How level is your playingfield?


Advice


Do you think a GM should limit his players to core only while useing other source materiel himself?

What would be your reasoning for not allowing a player to take a feat or a level in a class that he has encountered other NPC's using?


Roflganger wrote:

Do you think a GM should limit his players to core only while useing other source materiel himself?

What would be your reasoning for not allowing a player to take a feat or a level in a class that he has encountered other NPC's using?

I'm a big fan of reciprocity. Anything I have access to, the PCs have access to (within reasonable limits.) Conversely, anything the PCs have access to, I have access to (which means that stuff from those sources will be used against them.)

Personally, were I to GM I would just keep things to Core/Paizo products only. Just because it makes life easier for me. :)


If the GM is slowly introducing new material, that's fine. He's trying it out. It'd be reasonable to not be able to get stuff from a given book while it's in clinical trials. Once it's official that the GM likes it, not letting PCs have access to it is a bit unfair.


I hav enever encountered a Dm using source material he does not allow players. That said though because a DM thinks the Funky Muffin Tribe prestige class is OP doesnt mean he cant decide it is appropriate for an NPC bad guy.

as far as Feats go it likely depends. Not all feats are avaible to anyone but usually when they are restricted its because Group X has to teach them.

So in this case if the Funky Muffin Monk does the Rare Quivering Napalm attack. its likel ybecause its is a secret known only to their Order.. and if they are the bad guys in your campaig.. good luck learning it.

Otherwise just ask to find an appropriate teacher of something you saw an NPC use if thres no reason for it to be guarded by a secret cult or Elite duelist organization or whatever.

Sovereign Court

I prefer the asymmetric approach. The GM can use anything, but the players have a limited list.

My experience is that given a group of gamers, there is an inevitable gravity pull towards powergaming, at least with D&D type games. It might not be every player, but there is always one or two people who are always angling that way. So keeping a lid on what they can do just makes life easier.

As for me as the GM, I'm trying to come up with interesting things. I'll design encounters to create a great cinematic moment, which in that one moment is really cool, but if left to a powergaming player, could likely be used to spam the campaign with some effect that just ends up sucking the life out of the game.

I'm also just not that interested in GMing a "gamist" game of step-on-up competition. My real desire is to aim for cinematic emulation, a kind of "dramatism" and so it's more about shaping the events so that they feel more like events in movies and books, and not the anything goes tournament feel that a lot of games I've seen have.

If someone else wants to run gamist competitive games, that's cool. There are players in my group that eagerly want to run games that way. I just know that it's the kind of GM experience I want to have. It's vitally important that the players are having fun, and I'll work hard for that, but I also have to have fun.


Roflganger wrote:

Do you think a GM should limit his players to core only while useing other source materiel himself?

What would be your reasoning for not allowing a player to take a feat or a level in a class that he has encountered other NPC's using?

I would agree with the sentiment that everyone has access to the same things but I tend to say "core only" for both GM & Players. This is due to hideous experiences with that POS called "Unearthed Arcana" back in 1985. If I ever actually get a chance to run Pathfinder I might, eventually, allow APG materials... check with me in a year or three from now :eek: ;)

That said, if there is something a PC sees an NPC using (feat, spell, gadget, etc) well, they're welcome to try to gain it. But that's an adventure or three in itself :)

Grand Lodge

Of course the DM can use stuff the Players can not!

And not just the Bestiary.

The DM can bend or break pretty much every rule while designing his NPCs. I, for example, give all my monsters max HP and free Improved Initiative. Sometimes I won't even roll init for one of them; it'll just go first (unless a Player designed his PC to be an Init freak). I'll also give my monsters cooler (evil-aligned) gear and/or another free Feat or more.

Of course I can use stuff from BoVD or LM and deny it for play for a PC.

But, after the Cardinal Rule of DMing (Fun trumps all), the second Cardinal rule of DMing is The DM always Loses! That's the first rule I give as advice to new DMs. If you're the DM, you're the LOSER. Sure, you get to bend or break the rules. You get to create whatever you want -- but all the monsters you create are gonna die.

The Players HAVE to follow the rules of PC generation (including what supplements they can't use) for two Major reasons.

First, they're guaranteed winners. Even when a PC drops he can be healed. If he dies he may be raised. As long as a PC doesn't do something stupid, he's very likely to survive. He may drop to below 0HP, but he can be brought back with a touch from the Happy Stick.

Second, the PCs have to be pretty equal. If one is more powerful than another, that's not fair.

Dark Archive

for the first time i'm limiting players to pretty much pf core, with a few feat exceptions, however I, as dm, fell free to use any older or even homebrew material.

double standard? yes. but i don't really have the time to check every wacky thing a player asks about, and they know that i know most of the broken 3.5 combos (shock trooper, leap attack, frenzy bezerker anyone?)

Paizo Employee CEO

The thing I like about using material that my players don't have access to is the feeling that they are fighting the unknown. When a bad guy does something that they can't, their eyes get big and everybody starts talking at once, trying to figure out what just happened. It adds a sense of excitement when it is a monster or a spell or a feat or whatnot that they haven't seen and have no experience with. It makes battles much more exciting IMHO. So I do it all the time.

-Lisa


Quote: "When a bad guy does something that they can't, their eyes get big and"

Reminds me of the first time I used Pounce on a player, and they left the table because they thought I was breaking the rules. he he.

I think whoever brought up balance among the PC's nailed it. As GM, I balance every encounter in one way or another, but players are generally expected to play to the best of their abilities in every encounter.

With that said, I find that there isn't much outside of core that I feel the need to bring into my games. If I want to create an effect or specific creature, I can usually find a way to do it (or fake it) within the core rules.

I would also point out that it has always been accepted that with GM approval, players are capable of making their own spells, items, magic items, and whatever wacky stuff they are capable of flushing away their gp on. And if you really REALLY want something, outside of core, we can figure out a solution.


Lisa Stevens wrote:

The thing I like about using material that my players don't have access to is the feeling that they are fighting the unknown. When a bad guy does something that they can't, their eyes get big and everybody starts talking at once, trying to figure out what just happened. It adds a sense of excitement when it is a monster or a spell or a feat or whatnot that they haven't seen and have no experience with. It makes battles much more exciting IMHO. So I do it all the time.

-Lisa

Sure, but once your players meet an enemy using Screaming Monkey Mace Blitzkrieg Technique (e.g.), I think it's fair to allow the PCs to learn that technique too (given enough time and effort).


Lisa Stevens wrote:

The thing I like about using material that my players don't have access to is the feeling that they are fighting the unknown. When a bad guy does something that they can't, their eyes get big and everybody starts talking at once, trying to figure out what just happened. It adds a sense of excitement when it is a monster or a spell or a feat or whatnot that they haven't seen and have no experience with. It makes battles much more exciting IMHO. So I do it all the time.

-Lisa

+1 The Unknown is a good thing. Keeps the players awake :) If they have the chance to pick up something later (after having encountered it) that's OK too.

*edit* In short, pretty much what hogarth said (that I read right after posting...).


W E Ray wrote:
...smart stuff...

I think I agree with almost all of this.

M

Sovereign Court

hogarth wrote:
Sure, but once your players meet an enemy using Screaming Monkey Mace Blitzkrieg Technique (e.g.), I think it's fair to allow the PCs to learn that technique too (given enough time and effort).

It would be rare for this kind of thing to happen in my games, mainly because I wouldn't ever describe what is going on in meta-game terms. I work hard to stay descriptive to what is going on in the game and ensure that I'm not pulling back the curtain by describing the mechanics behind what is going on.

Sometimes this can be kind of painful, because I'll have spent hours and hours working on some elaborate boss battles with complicated builds, and I'd love to say... "hey, look what I put together!" especially when the inevitable meta-talk starts at the table with the players, but I just keep my mouth shut.

But in a broader way I use a lot of the 4e tweaks to monsters because they are simple and easy to modify things and make it possible for interesting fights to occur without the power gamers making duds out of what ought to have been cool combats.


Lisa Stevens wrote:

The thing I like about using material that my players don't have access to is the feeling that they are fighting the unknown. When a bad guy does something that they can't, their eyes get big and everybody starts talking at once, trying to figure out what just happened. It adds a sense of excitement when it is a monster or a spell or a feat or whatnot that they haven't seen and have no experience with. It makes battles much more exciting IMHO. So I do it all the time.

-Lisa

I agree. There are several magic items and spells, as well as classes, that I have stolen from sources the players don't have access to. I will never allow their characters to have those things. But, that makes for pretty interesting bad guys.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Having been shafted by a few cheating gms who 'handwaved' rules in order to win, I prefer to keep as level a field as possible in my games.

As an experienced (42 years) and superior wargamer with a less than sunny attitude, I admit that I tend to overwhelm the lesser gms with a wargamers' lethality and focus (I was actually accused of 'metagaming' for following Aerlyinth's excellent tripping build format!). I have a Fighter/Rogue that provides the all important flanks for the 'real' Rogues in a game where I am of the lowest level, yet am counted THE most dangerous player. That gm actually refused to let me play anything other than a 'lowly' Human for fear I would wreck his game (Please B'rer Fox, don't throw me in that briar patch!). For some reason, I cannot find an smith capable of providing me with a MW bastardsword and we haven't fought a creature using one in 8 levels. I do have 3 magical Kopesh, though...

Players are supposed to be the heroes and should never be denied the chance to shoulder the mantle. That said, Heroes don't butcher orphanages to power their hot tubs.

Liberty's Edge

Bwang wrote:

Having been shafted by a few cheating gms who 'handwaved' rules in order to win, I prefer to keep as level a field as possible in my games.

As an experienced (42 years) and superior wargamer with a less than sunny attitude, I admit that I tend to overwhelm the lesser gms with a wargamers' lethality and focus (I was actually accused of 'metagaming' for following Aerlyinth's excellent tripping build format!). I have a Fighter/Rogue that provides the all important flanks for the 'real' Rogues in a game where I am of the lowest level, yet am counted THE most dangerous player. That gm actually refused to let me play anything other than a 'lowly' Human for fear I would wreck his game (Please B'rer Fox, don't throw me in that briar patch!). For some reason, I cannot find an smith capable of providing me with a MW bastardsword and we haven't fought a creature using one in 8 levels. I do have 3 magical Kopesh, though...

Players are supposed to be the heroes and should never be denied the chance to shoulder the mantle. That said, Heroes don't butcher orphanages to power their hot tubs.

This is going to sound hostile and maybe it is a little bit, but from the way you describe yourself I would be extremely hesitant to play with you.

Regardless of the side of the table you sit on it seems like you want to dominate the field and that isn't fun for anybody except maybe the player doing it.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16

Bwang wrote:
Having been shafted by a few cheating gms who 'handwaved' rules in order to win, I prefer to keep as level a field as possible in my games.

I certainly understand where you're coming from, having occasionally met adversarial DMs who treated their players as opponents. It's unwise for a DM to build their ego at players' expense, but it happens.

On the other hand, if the players cooperate at all, their PCs have a massive advantage: They can draw on the imagination and savvy of an entire team, while the GM generally has only himself. Sometimes a GM needs to fudge things a bit to offer a decent challenge.


Roflganger wrote:

Do you think a GM should limit his players to core only while useing other source materiel himself?

What would be your reasoning for not allowing a player to take a feat or a level in a class that he has encountered other NPC's using?

I believe that if I can use some material against the PCs then they should have access to it as well. Seems hypocritical to me to do otherwise

Shadow Lodge

What if the big bad evil guy has the class you didn't allow a player to use because it would have ruined the story's plot?

With some classes, it would be easy for the group to figure out what's going on. If a wolf is harder to take down than it should be, odds are it's an animal companion, which means the person behind it is a druid, ranger, or a cleric(with the Animal Domain).

What about the strange draconic creature that occasionally rampages though town? With it's breath weapon and coloration, it looks like a green dragon, but why are it's wounds closing so fast? Why does it have a burrow speed? Knowledge(Arcana) reveals nothing, but maybe you didn't beat the DC for the check...


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Themetricsystem wrote:

This is going to sound hostile and maybe it is a little bit, but from the way you describe yourself I would be extremely hesitant to play with you.

Regardless of the side of the table you sit on it seems like you want to dominate the field and that isn't fun for anybody except maybe the player doing it.

LMFAO

Actually, I try to match the group's intensity and direction. In a straight up combat game (the latter from above...), I play that way. In the RP heavy game a friend's wife runs, I run a Changeling Rogue that specializes in streetwork, shadowing and contacts, providing valued sources of information, etc. In both games, I sit away from the GM in order to allow others their moment to shine. Aerlyinth's tripping build is hardly metagaming, just one of the most efficient crowd control systems I have ever run. I just want GMs to do their job. Ruling swimming rules 3 different ways in the course of 5 rounds is cheating, especially when the GM will not consult any of the 9 PHBs at the table. Giving one player 23 minutes to do their turn (Yes, I timed it) then giving the next player 5 seconds is fair?

I will grant that 42 years of wargaming and 35 of D&D might make me formidable (actually, I'm ADHD and playing loose with the rules throws me for a loop), but I just want the chance to play a fair game.

"...it seems like you [b]want[b] to dominate the field" is your impression? I'm sorry if I come off that way. I also play Dwarves in Blood Bowl.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Sir_Wulf wrote:
Sometimes a GM needs to fudge things a bit to offer a decent challenge.

Fudging is fine! I get hot with the dice on occasion and my players prefer I roll behind a screen (I rolled 10 d20s for charging stirges once, 8 hits, 5 criticals, 3 confirmations. They begged me to never roll open again.) I shamelessly pawn jobs off on the players.: A gets to move the opponents, B is in charge of the initiative cards, C keeps an 'adventure log', D draws 'rules Lawyer' duty, etc. And yes, I have been over ruled by the RULES. Now that I'm switching to Pf, I am getting slapped around a lot (Skills seem to be my biggest flaw at the moment.) and am learning game by game.

I prefer fair play.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16

This instantly breaks down if we take this to it's logical conclusion.

Can the PCs play evil characters?
Can the PCs play as trolls, lantern archons, mimics, and bebiliths?
Can the PCs tip over dice to avoid getting a critical hit?
Can the PCs summon large piles of treasure to make up for deficits?
Can the PCs declare "this important person from your backstory just showed up and needs you to go on a quest for her"?
Can the PCs arbitrarily remove all monsters in the dungeon between the current location and the BBEG because it's already 9:20pm and the game has to end at 10pm and it would be good to end on a meaningful fight?
Can the PCs hand out XP?
The DM can!

DMs & PCs aren't even in the same role: they're playing fundamentally different games. Keeping them to the same rules just doesn't make sense, not in my worldview.


I know a GM who would use stuff he deemed to broken for players to keep things interesting, but he also played with a powergaming group. I sometimes try new things out on the PCs and if it went well, I might let them use it. rarely would I deny the players the same things I use myself (without good reason and an explanation).


Erik Freund wrote:


Can the PCs arbitrarily remove all monsters in the dungeon between the current location and the BBEG because it's already 9:20pm and the game has to end at 10pm and it would be good to end on a meaningful fight?

It is this kind of fudging, that really makes the difference between a decent game and a great game. I do all my rolls in the open when I GM, but I often bend the game based on out-of-game considerations. As a player, I'm not really able to do that in a meaningful way most of the time. As a GM, I need all the tools and options to present a fair and fun game to the players.


Like said before I generally do keep to the same rules as the players do, similar creatures (orcs, humans and such) are generally ruled the same way as the players are.

Players sometimes are looking outside of core for something that suits their character concept, like a custom bloodline or a spell/ feat that seems especially suitable and often I allow it with or without adjusting it.

For creatures it is easier ofcourse I do not have to haggle with my players what I think is fair, as long as I stick to the same rules, spirit more than RAW, and assign a proper CR they don't mind.


I let them use what I use, but they also know my bad guys have access to the same things they do.


Mok wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Sure, but once your players meet an enemy using Screaming Monkey Mace Blitzkrieg Technique (e.g.), I think it's fair to allow the PCs to learn that technique too (given enough time and effort).
It would be rare for this kind of thing to happen in my games, mainly because I wouldn't ever describe what is going on in meta-game terms.

You would never say "he hit you with his mace; take 20 damage and make a DC 20 Fortitude save", for instance?

--

For what it's worth, as a GM I have no problem with tweaking some things (e.g. giving a monster more hit points or a higher AC). But I still like to obey the "laws of physics". I.e., if an NPC can learn a certain spell or feat, than so can a similarly qualified PC.

Otherwise, as a player, I feel that the game world tends to fall apart without a certain amount of logical consistency. I.e., "we're supposedly fighting an enemy wizard, but that description is meaningless because he could suddenly grow a thousand feet tall, or he could be made out of cheese, or he could be fatally allergic to dog farts, or any of a million other things that the GM makes up on a whim; instead of D&D, we're playing 'Guess What I Have In My Pocketses'".

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