PFS Rule Revision / Modification #1


Pathfinder Society

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Sovereign Court

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

I am in favor of a 6 player limit, from both sides of the screen.

Silver Crusade

Since we are getting way too combative about this topic, I think the decision should just be: "Leave it as is". As a coordinator and a GM, I understand the pains of having to take a big table on. Sometimes, it's just the price we pay to remain an OPEN society. The minute we start putting down table rules, is honestly the moment we become an "exclusive" society. I don't think I nor any of my player are okay with that.

I would rather deal with a table of 7 (or heaven foreffingbid 8) to keep my society successful.

Does this mean, I am going to have to step my game up as a coordinator and train more GM's to play PFS so I don't have to go this far? Indeed, but that needs to be my problem to address and not the Pazio big wigs job.

I firmly believe that the top should be helping us on the ground via supplies, marketing materials, easier ways of accessing modules and building socities, and supporting FLGS who support society coordinators in their endeavors. (Whether that be store accounts, or marketing kits or whatever your awesome marketing team can come with ^_^)

Personally, that's what I wish Pazio would do for us coordinators, than for us to sit here and argue about something, that the big wigs at the end of the day are going to have no control over when game time begins. If you make my job easier, trust me, more money will be in your pockets soon enough ^_^


I'm not in favor of playing or GM'ing 7-player tables...but I'm not in favor of making them illegal.

CJ

2/5

Michael Brock wrote:
However, even though a 7 player table can kill the fun in a game, it is ok if the need arises. You either want to keep the game fun or you don't. You can't really have it both ways.

Not all of us have had horrible experiences with 7 player tables. It depends on the GM and players. It's undesirable, but as long as it's rare, it's ok.

There's no question it has the potential to be a lesser experience. Does that make it a "bad" experience? Not necessarily. My seven player table at Gen Con this year (during the special) was actually a very good experience.

My only horrible experiences have come from 4 and 5 player tables. Yours have only come from 7 player tables. So?

Michael Brock wrote:

Of the 78 games I have GMed, 12-15 of them were 7 player tables.

Michael Brock wrote:
As a convention coordinator for four cons over the past year where we ran 80+ tables at each, most players at 7 player tables at those cons had a lessened experience due to the 7 player table.

So either there was a lack of GMs or there was a lack of organization/planning or tables. The coordinator *could* have turned the 7th player away, but he CHOSE not to. Why didn't he turn the 7th player away if it makes for a 'lessened' experience? If you were *forced* to turn the 7th player away, how does that help the organizational dilemma which wasn't solved in the first place?

And in 30 games I've GMed or played, I've had 3 seven player tables. So what you should be asking yourself is why you've had so many seven player tables? And if you dislike them so much, why did you organize them as a coordinator and why did you accept them as a GM?

Michael Brock wrote:
I'm a skilled GM, but no matter how hard you try, the combats are cakewalks

It's been my experience that most scenarios are cakewalks even with 4 players, so of course it'll be too easy with 7. It's almost a given that I have to change the scenario tactics, at least.

Liberty's Edge 4/5

As someone who has ran way more 7 tables than less, im okay with it, because it allowed me to sit new players. I will say that I like 7 over 3 with npc. We are soon to try 2 smaller tables and may find i like better, but would still like option to sit 7 if cant do 2 tables.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
jjaamm wrote:
As someone who has ran way more 7 tables than less, im okay with it, because it allowed me to sit new players. I will say that I like 7 over 3 with npc. We are soon to try 2 smaller tables and may find i like better, but would still like option to sit 7 if cant do 2 tables.

For myself, 7 player tables at higher level are far more painful than running 7 players at low level. I would hate to turn away a new player from a intro mod just because I have 6 players already. Running 7 players through a tier 1 mod is not hard.

Silver Crusade 3/5

If I sat at a table of 7 I would feel honour bound to offer to GM so that the table could be split. Hasn't happened yet but I would offer.

7 player tables are bad. I would prefer a ban on them personally.

Scarab Sages

I will chime in to give my opinion: I think the rule should stay as-is. That is, table of 7 is not ideal, but can be run if the situation depends on it (ie, all other options to remedy the situation have been exhausted).

Once the rule is figured out, maybe discussions on changes to mechanics could follow for larger parties (6 or 7 players, depending on how the ruling goes) by adding baddies, henchpeople, etc (already discussed earlier in the thread).

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Lady Ophelia wrote:


I would rather deal with a table of 7 (or heaven foreffingbid 8) to keep my society successful.

And this is my other big worry. If the hard cap is currently set at 7, there shouldn't be any thoughts at all of running an 8 player table -- period. I'm not picking on Lady Ophelia. She just happened to be the latest one of numerous people who advised they had run an 8 player table.

So, when do you draw the line? If you have 10 people show up and only have 1 GM, are you going to turn 3 people away or are you going to run a table of 10? What happens if you have 12 show up and only 1 GM? Are you going to turn away 5 players since you have no other GM or are you going to run a table of 12?

There has to be a point when a coordinator takes responsibility to plan ahead, make sign-ups/reservations available, and apologizes to the players that can't be sat for the game.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Michael Brock wrote:
Lady Ophelia wrote:


I would rather deal with a table of 7 (or heaven foreffingbid 8) to keep my society successful.

And this is my other big worry. If the hard cap is currently set at 7, there shouldn't be any thoughts at all of running an 8 player table -- period. I'm not picking on Lady Ophelia. She just happened to be the latest one of numerous people who advised they had run an 8 player table.

So, when do you draw the line? If you have 10 people show up and only have 1 GM, are you going to turn 3 people away or are you going to run a table of 10? What happens if you have 12 show up and only 1 GM? Are you going to turn away 5 players since you have no other GM or are you going to run a table of 12?

There has to be a point when a coordinator takes responsibility to plan ahead, make sign-ups/reservations available, and apologizes to the players that can't be sat for the game.

I've seen it happen as well. Unfortunately, changing the rule won't stop this. It will make those who do 7s now 'cheaters' as well. 3+NPC allows for 2 tables of 3 even, and really covers that extra gap, but I'd prefer to err on the side of less judges rather than more players. Not everyone is willing to step up, and to be honest not everyone is qualified for it.

My local group has gotten to the point where i rarely have this issue, I'm just concerned about the small guys

The Exchange 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

I'm well aware of the problem Mike has with 7 player sessions in the Atlanta area. If anything, the issue can be attributed to TOO MUCH planning rather than too little. Every FLGS in the area coordinates their game days through the georgiapfs.org website. The GMs are listed ahead of time along with number of available slots. Some of the game days can be running five slots at a time (as much as a small convention). Often its not a case of not having more GMs, its not having more physical table space available. So most players sign up well ahead of time. But there are always some who show up without signing up ahead of time. These fall into two categories:

1) Players who are "too important" to need to sign up.
2) Players who are new and didn't realize they needed to sign up.

When these last minute additions become the seventh person, the fun level drops. The first person needs to have everything revolve around him, and the second type just needs some things explained (I like him better than type 1.)

Also the potential for side conversations increases exponentially. Not only are their more people, but each person has less "limelight" time and may venture to the side.

So why do I say all this? Because I don't think things need to change. There has to be a breakpoint. Dropping it to six precludes any possibility of adding that new player. The responsibility HAS to be left up to the GM to just say "no, we can't handle a seventh." Just as it has to be up to the GM to ask a player to leave. Pathfinder Organized play relies at it's core on trusting the GMs and coordinators. Unless we start declaring a "winner" rather than "a huge group of people had a lot of fun" there has to be latitude.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My two coppers.

The last thing i would want to do is run a 7 person table. I would much prefer to run two 3 person tables with 2 GMs. But on the other hand, I don't like turning people away.
I would prefer to have the option of a 7 person table, in case i get a couple of walk ins, and my two "back up GM" players are not present.

Elyas.

Andrew Philips- Hey it is good to see you back on the boards...I hope everything is going well.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

My opinion on how to muster given the current rules:

Seat your players who preregistered on tables up to size 6.
Seat your new players potentially up to 7 player tables and or make new tables with back up GMs.

Seat returners who have not preregistered up to 6 player tables.

It drives me nuts as a player who is organized and preregistered to have my fun diminished by somebody who doesn't bother to preregister being seated as a 7th.

I don't begrudge the new player though and will even give up my seat if necessary to make sure all the new players fit.

Silver Crusade

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Michael Brock wrote:
Lady Ophelia wrote:


I would rather deal with a table of 7 (or heaven foreffingbid 8) to keep my society successful.

And this is my other big worry. If the hard cap is currently set at 7, there shouldn't be any thoughts at all of running an 8 player table -- period. I'm not picking on Lady Ophelia. She just happened to be the latest one of numerous people who advised they had run an 8 player table.

So, when do you draw the line? If you have 10 people show up and only have 1 GM, are you going to turn 3 people away or are you going to run a table of 10? What happens if you have 12 show up and only 1 GM? Are you going to turn away 5 players since you have no other GM or are you going to run a table of 12?

There has to be a point when a coordinator takes responsibility to plan ahead, make sign-ups/reservations available, and apologizes to the players that can't be sat for the game.

As a note: I've never run a 8 player table in society, I have done many times in personal games, but in PFS, we have been very lucky to stay at six with the occasional 7th person table.

Does this mean I wouldn't do it if I had to? No, I would for the good of the society. Let's really be real here, we can plan and sign up all we want, but sometimes we have to succumb to the nature of the beast no matter how hard we try to plan ahead. This is an OPEN SOCIETY. Meaning we are going to get drop ins and new players whether we like it or not.

For example: What I would do, if I had a 10 player table, is I would seat six, and then tell the other four to come back or stick around, because if I can find a GM to run, then guess what, they would get first dibs because I could not fit them on my table. Regardless, I would have a "spare" GM in the works to begin with, and we would fit them in accordingly with the spare GM. In our home society, we are lucky to have forced diligence and kicked players to the curb for not RSVPing.

Do I like doing that? No. 99% of people I kick out for dropping in or not RSVPing, don't come back. What do I do then? Why do I get stuck being the bad guy and lose a player or even a potential GM, for a stupid mandatory table rule?

Please do me a favor, leave the rule alone. Let me do my job and figure that out. I personally guarantee, putting a hard rule on us, will be broken. And I will do what it takes to satisfy my society and get everyone playing FIRST AND FOREMOST before invoking some stupid table max rule.

I don't mean to sound condescending or rude, but we really should be talking about something else, like having more modules come out in one month, or helping local societies succeed with a 7 player table instead of condemning them. Or heck, we need to learn how to train more GM's so we never have this said problem.

Come on Pathfinders, let's talk about something a little more helpful to me as a coordinator than a table rule.

Cause we're really not helping ourselves here.

We need to be talking about improving the quality of our tables, not how big or small they need to be.

Liberty's Edge

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I hate three-player tables.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Belafon wrote:
Organized play relies at it's core on trusting the GMs and coordinators .

Belafon - sorry for taking this sentence out of context but it explains a lot why I have reacted so strongly to the suggested change.

With this change in the rule I feel I'm no longer trusted as GM or coordinator to do the best decision for PFS and for players for a given situation in deciding table size.

I'm aware this is not the intend. But this is how it feels for me.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Thod wrote:


With this change in the rule I feel I'm no longer trusted as GM or coordinator to do the best decision for PFS and for players for a given situation in deciding table size.

The rule hasn't been changed. It is being discussed. And, I keep seeing people say the same thing -- that GMs and coordinators should be trusted. However, in the same threads, I see multiple people saying they will break the rule no matter what. So, how do you work out the quandry of trusting folks when they say they are going to break the rules so they can make the Society how they think it should be and don't care what is written in the Guide to Organized Play?

I trust my GMs and coordinators. Ask any of them in Atlanta. I didn't make appearances at their individual game days for months because I knew I could trust them. A large part of that is I knew they would follow the rules that were in place and I didn't have to check up on them. I just went back and counted over the four rule revision threads and there are multiple instances were people claimed to have already broken the rules as written or will in the future if it is something they don't like. Help me rationalize that please?

Grand Lodge 5/5

Michael

I will send you an email in private in regard to some bits better left off the board.

To rationalize it why I would break a rule. It is the age old discussion between Rule as Intented and Rule as Written.

Step 1: . I try to understand why you want the rule changed - the Rule as Intented. I did read the whole thread and try to take every opinion on board.
Step 2: I will try to follow the rule old or new as written.
Step 3: If I'm confronted with a situation where RAW seems strongly contra dictionary to RAI I need to make a decision and don't follow blindly RAW.

I'm not trying to be awkward or to disregard rules. I'm trying to do what is best to PFS, the players and fun at the table. I try to do this while staying inside the rules to the best of my knowledge. But 100% following the rules will never happen.
Most times I break rules because of a mistake, misinterpretation or in error.

Thod


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Michael Brock wrote:
Help me rationalize that please?

In the case of table-size: A coordinator's gotta do what a coordinator's gotta do. The show must go on.

-Matt

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Michael Brock wrote:
Help me rationalize that please?

I worked for a retail store as a customer services manager many moons ago and we had a strict policy of no refunds (except where legally required). I was surprised, but as I was a new employee I adhered to that rule as if my job depended on it. When a customer complained to head office they authorised the refund and told me I should have used my initiative instead (and authorised it). What can you do? :-)

I believe LG had a strict limit of 6 players. I saw any number of 7 and even 8 player tables running but the tables were reported as two 4s or the like instead. I'm pretty sure the triad members consented to such behaviour if it got the games played, but that may have varied between regions. It was never official, but that didn't stop it happening.

If you ban 7 player tables I don't expect anything to change, you'll just get an increase in the number of smaller tables reported and GMs at problem venues will gain stars more rapidly than before as they're 'running the mod twice'. LG didn't have a star system so no-one really cared, but if stars mean prizes in PFS then that could cause friction. It also reduces the accuracy of your reporting information, such as average table size, or number of tables.

Assuming someone complains and you find out the numbers are being gamed somewhere then what are you going to do? Ban the organiser from organising PFS and watch them switch to LFR? Ban the GM at the venue that doesn't have enough GMs? Punish them in some way, when they're only volunteers in the first place? I think you'll just make life difficult for yourself to be honest.

I would tackle the 7 player problem by encouraging people to step up and GM at short notice. That comes down to adding incentives:
1. Allow people to gain GM benefit from a scenario more than once (different character each time they run it). Some of us like to create stables of characters and there are more archetypes now than we'll ever get the chance to play.
2. Provide unique benefits based on the number of stars, such as social status for characters, or access to normally restricted items.

And removing barriers:
3. Provide bullet point fast-play summaries in an appendix for people who don't have time to read everything in detail:
i. BBEG was double-crossed by VC Bob and hates the society.
ii. He's now holed up in an old temple after joining an evil cult.
iii. He's activated their ancient golem and set it to defend the hide-out.
iv. On the way there the PCs have to fight an adult dragon, a titan and a jabberwocky.
v. Advise the players this is a tough Tier 1-2.
4. Provide monster details even from the bestiary, as the last-minute GM may not have access to it; and don't use templated creatures unless the stat blocks are pre-prepared.
5. Increase the volume of new scenarios being put out so people are less worried about eating something.
6. Allow replaying when a table has to split due to numbers and you can't get two tables of the same scenario running.

I know there are people who hate replaying, but I have no problem with it personally. There could be any number of other options there, but tackling the "I don't know the mod" "I don't have the books" "I've already played it" and "I've already had credit for it" issues is a good start. Local organisers can offer additional incentives, so Paizo may want to discuss that with them directly.

That's just my ha'penny anyway.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Okay, some background for my opinion on the matter...

I personally prefer a table of 1 GM and 4 players for most roleplaying I do, regardless of system, that IMHO is the optimal number. Some games work better with less than more (e.g. James Bond works better with 3 agents than 5) whereas other games tend to work better with more rather than less (e.g. D&D where 5 players is often better than 3).

I personally only ever play and GM tables of 6 players (and 1 GM) at conventions because that seems to be the standard operating practice. I wouldn't want to play or GM in a home game with a table that size.

So onto this potential new rule...

If we keep the 7 upper limit, but make it clear that it isn't recommended, then I personally would also want it written up that such a table of 7 players is allowed only where the GM agrees to it and so do all the players.

If I have taken the time off work to make sure I get to a game, make sure I sign up so I am in the first 6 for a table, I personally would not be happy if someone rushes in at the last minute due to lack of organisation or some such reason, and gets a 7th player place at my table - that is directlt impacted on my fun.

It may mean an uncomfortable seating arrangement (all squished around a table), less "screen time", a general slowness in getting through the scenario (especially as a 7th player could mean an extra faction mission now that we have 10 different factions) and thus could mean we don't get the scenario completed or we run way over (which could mean me having to leave before finishing if I have another slot to go to, or another appointment. This is especially the case at the conventions I go to where slots are only 4 hours long.

So, yes, I personally may be unhappy if my PFS table got a 7th player pushed in its direction, hence why I as a player (as well as a GM) would want the option to veto the extra player joining. Selfish? Yes, but my gaming time is precious and I personally would decline joining as a 7th player so as not to reduce any other players' fun.

Trouble is, peer pressure means that even if the group of players is asked - if only one player would like to veto the 7th player, they are likely to say yes to avoid being subject to potential resentment by the other players and even GM (especially if the would be 7th player was a friend of the other players or GM).

So yeah, I personally would prefer a hard limit of 6 players (especially considering the scenarios are written for 4) - but I recognise not everyone plays in the same manner I do, e.g. at conventions where everyone knows they have to sign up. So I wouldn't be strongly opposed to keeping the current rule - as long as the veto option by players was added.

On a related note re splitting 1 GM and 7 players into 2 GMs with 3 players each; if this is purely to accommodate that 7th player I as a player would again like the option to veto this (and play as a 1 GM and 6 player table) if I can't be part of the group with the original GM.

The reason for this is that the player stepping up to GM may have to spend some time skimming the scenario (and maybe even getting it printed) which eats into the slot time, and even then is likely unprepared and so the play experience would likely be less fun than if I had played under the original GM (even with the larger number of players).

TL;DR version:
Either change the hard player limit to 6
...or...
Allow 7 players but only if the GM agrees and so do all the players

Also...
Allow a GM with 6 playes to accomodate a 7th player by splitting into two tables of 1 GM + 3 players (with a player stepping up to GM) only if all players agree to it, or those players who don't agree get to play under the original GM.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—Chester aka Paz

How about this: when a 7-player table is reported on the Paizo site, the GM/co-ordinator needs to fill in a text field explaining why a 7-player table was necessary. It would reinforce the message that 7-player tables are only to be done as a last resort, would give Paizo some info on why it is being done, and highlight repeat 'offenders'.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

DigitalMage wrote:


If we keep the 7 upper limit, but make it clear that it isn't recommended, then I personally would also want it written up that such a table of 7 players is allowed only where the GM agrees to it and so do all the players.

And if all seven players are present and correct during roll-call, with no advance sign-up sheet listing an order?

I'd prefer to allow seven players and if someone doesn't want to play with that many characters they can step away, leaving six. The opportunity to play is there for all of them, they choose whether or not they take it, rather than deciding what someone else gets to do.

The GM gets veto because if he steps away there's no game. I'd also like that veto on gunslingers to be honest, but I've resigned myself to the fact I may end up GMing one. I suspect some GMs have similarly resigned themselves to the fact they may GM seven player tables even though they don't like it.

If the player turns up late then I'm more in favour of asking players first, depending on how late we're talking (not if a couple of minutes, but yes if an hour). If the seventh player has that vital cleric then few will object!

Sovereign Court

I'm not sure anyone actually enjoys seven player games, but with the idea of Play Play Play being an important element to PFS, and the incredibly varied situations in which tables are formed, I still see their usefulness.

Some groups out there might handle everything in a very strick and hyper organized fashion, regardless of the venue, but to expect that kind of organization to be replicated across the world isn't realistic.

Our group is composed of a lot of people with busy lives and who and how many people are running games is an ad-hoc situation from week to week. That isn't going to change. Sometimes only one person can run that week, and between vets showing up and surprise walk-ins, it's easy to get to seven players. Other people present aren't always able or willing to just spring into action and run something cold at another table.

That situation isn't happening all the time, but every once in awhile it does. The bulk of us in our PFS group value the informality of PFS compared to LG. There are always going to be people that mess and game with the system, and sometimes hard and clear rules are needed to reign them in a bit, but you don't want to keep adding in elements that create a siege mentality against these players. It's more important when it's a GM/Organizers role, such as table setup, to have an informed set of tools to use to make the situation work.

If I were making the call, what I'd do is put into the guide more language which describes the impact that larger tables has on play, so that it informs GMs and organizers a bit more on making the choice of staying with a 7 player table, versus splitting into two tables.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Stormfriend

I can't resist to comment

One of my 2(?) games with 7 players on the table as GM did include a gun slinger.

And this game did break a few stereotypes mentioned here.

1) We had a lot of fun despite 7 players on the table. It ranks as one of the better games I GMed and certainly among the top 5 memorable ones due to role play (and ineptitude) at the table

2) We had a lot of fun at the table thanks to the gunslinger - see 3)

3) It wasn't a cakewalk for the group. The gunslinger died a horrible death having his brains eaten out slowly. This took me 4 combat rounds to achieve with a monster that didn't survive the surprise round when I had played the same scenario with 4 players. Actually it never survived more than 2 combat rounds in the 6 other times I played with smaller tables.

4) It was the only time I remember having a player leave the table and thank me for a great game despite having just killed his character

No - I don't advocate to kill off the character class you like least as a solution to the 7 player table. But strange things happen at the gaming table. Sometimes you can't make them up. It was just one of these times when several things happen at the same time and add up to hamper the players.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

The death of any gunslinger is a time to rejoice, but I wouldn't unfairly target them. Not often anyway... :-)

Edit: a seven player group that works well as a team, pays attention, can all hear the GM clearly, and undertands the need for brevity can work just fine. If its noisy, or the players aren't getting along, or some of them are hogging the limelight, then it can quickly go wrong...

For home games we know what to expect, but at conventions it can be rather pot luck, just because of different personality types. But then that's half the fun of a convention!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
Stormfriend wrote:
DigitalMage wrote:


If we keep the 7 upper limit, but make it clear that it isn't recommended, then I personally would also want it written up that such a table of 7 players is allowed only where the GM agrees to it and so do all the players.

And if all seven players are present and correct during roll-call, with no advance sign-up sheet listing an order?

As I said in my post "I recognise not everyone plays in the same manner I do, e.g. at conventions where everyone knows they have to sign up." - in the situation you describe I guess yes, if there is no sign ups by table, or even an order of sign ups so you cannot determine a first come first serve basis, then yes 7 players at the table it would be - like you say if someone doesn't want 7 players but everyone else does they are the one who can miss out.

Personally I would hate to game in situation where the organisation is like that though, and if I had to that is when I personally would prefer the 6 player hard limit - in which case you would have to use the same system to choose your 6 as you would choose your 7 if 8 players turned up.

Stormfriend wrote:
I'd prefer to allow seven players and if someone doesn't want to play with that many characters they can step away, leaving six. The opportunity to play is there for all of them, they choose whether or not they take it, rather than deciding what someone else gets to do.

That would be fine in the situations you describe, but I would not want that to be the rule across the board, if I was at a con and had been the first to sign up to a PFS game that showed as having 6 spaces and then a 7th person turned up, just because I wouldn't want to play with that many players I don't feel I should be the one to walk.

Basically if 7 is the hard limit with only the GM veto, then at conventions or anywhere with pre-sign up, if the GM is happy to run for 7 players, then 7 places be advertised as available.

Maybe the better way is to keep the rule as is, 7 player tables are allowed as long as the GM is okay with it (players have to like it or lump it) but are not recommended. However then make it clear that some conventions or venues may also put a lower limit on it irrespective of whether the GM would be happy with 7 players.

So for example, if I go to a convention they could put sign up sheets for 6 players and that is it, no possibility of a 7th player. That way I can sign up knowing I won't have to fight peer pressure to let a 7th player in - because if I sign up and then get that peer pressure I might have chosen not to play PFS but to play another game which did have a hard limit of 6 (be it Savage Worlds, Traveller, D&D etc) - but by then it may be too late.

Dark Archive

Well since we're not going to discuss a small table limit so to improve play, let's keep it the way it is. 6, and if needed 7.

Majority doesn't like it (including me), but I much rather have that rule in place so I can seat players and grow PFS as opposed to saying "I can't do it because of the rules, sorry" and lose a player.

There will be times when players just do not want to DM for whatever reason. Being the person who is running anyways, I will take the hit and run with 7. I'm okay with this since I'm running anyways. Players might not love it, but I guarantee they rather play than not play at all. Nobody wants to travel for a distance and get nothing out of it.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
BYC wrote:

Well since we're not going to discuss a small table limit so to improve play, let's keep it the way it is. 6, and if needed 7.

Majority doesn't like it (including me), but I much rather have that rule in place so I can seat players and grow PFS as opposed to saying "I can't do it because of the rules, sorry" and lose a player.

There will be times when players just do not want to DM for whatever reason. Being the person who is running anyways, I will take the hit and run with 7. I'm okay with this since I'm running anyways. Players might not love it, but I guarantee they rather play than not play at all. Nobody wants to travel for a distance and get nothing out of it.

Nod, I don't think anyone has said that 7 man tables are ideal, I really don't think they are.

GM: Crud, we've got 7

PC: Ok, we'll have another judge.

GM: Don't have one today

PC: Ok, someone willing to step up?

GM: Just checked, nope.

PC: So someone isn't going to get the play then.

GM: Yup, and it's you.

Put yourself in the place of the guy being forced to go home. Now imagine you are a new player. Now imagine you drove 3 hours this morning to come play (Yes, this does happen in my Omaha group). What's the fair thing to do?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber
cblome59 wrote:
Put yourself in the place of the guy being forced to go home. Now imagine you are a new player. Now imagine you drove 3 hours this morning to come play (Yes, this does happen in my Omaha group). What's the fair thing to do?

But what happens when there are 8 would be players? Same thing happens.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

DigitalMage wrote:
cblome59 wrote:
Put yourself in the place of the guy being forced to go home. Now imagine you are a new player. Now imagine you drove 3 hours this morning to come play (Yes, this does happen in my Omaha group). What's the fair thing to do?
But what happens when there are 8 would be players? Same thing happens.

Yes, but less frequently. The higher the hard cap, the less often you have to turn someone away due to a lack of a GM for another table.

Basically, you have a graph with two lines: one is fun had due to table size, which goes down as table size increases. The other is fun had due to not being sent home, which instead goes *up* as table size increases. Somewhere, those two lines cross, and that's the hard cap where you get the most fun overall.

I guess really what we should be doing in this thread is deciding whether or not that intersection is at "7". Which in turn, I suppose (I'm going kind of stream-of-consciousness at this point) means that you have to decide which line is steeper - if more net fun is lost by having more players than is lost by people being sent home (at each interval, mind you), then the first line is steeper and points to a low Optimal Hard Cap. If the reverse is true (more fun lost by people being sent home than by large tables, per interval) then the second line is steeper and you'll get a higher Optimal Hard Cap. If the two sources of fun-loss are comparable, then you have similarly-sloped lines and an Optimal Hard Cap somewhere in the middle.

Which I guess leaves us trying to decide whose fun is more important: the people who stay or the people who go. Yikes. I suddenly feel a lot more sympathy for Mike, trying to make this decision. O_o

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Jiggy wrote:

I guess really what we should be doing in this thread is deciding whether or not that intersection is at "7". Which in turn, I suppose (I'm going kind of stream-of-consciousness at this point) means that you have to decide which line is steeper - if more net fun is lost by having more players than is lost by people being sent home (at each interval, mind you), then the first line is steeper and points to a low Optimal Hard Cap. If the reverse is true (more fun lost by people being sent home than by large tables, per interval) then the second line is steeper and you'll get a higher Optimal Hard Cap. If the two sources of fun-loss are comparable, then you have similarly-sloped lines and an Optimal Hard Cap somewhere in the middle.

I think you nailed it Jiggy, in a very mathy sort of way :P

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
cblome59 wrote:
Jiggy wrote:

I guess really what we should be doing in this thread is deciding whether or not that intersection is at "7". Which in turn, I suppose (I'm going kind of stream-of-consciousness at this point) means that you have to decide which line is steeper - if more net fun is lost by having more players than is lost by people being sent home (at each interval, mind you), then the first line is steeper and points to a low Optimal Hard Cap. If the reverse is true (more fun lost by people being sent home than by large tables, per interval) then the second line is steeper and you'll get a higher Optimal Hard Cap. If the two sources of fun-loss are comparable, then you have similarly-sloped lines and an Optimal Hard Cap somewhere in the middle.

I think you nailed it Jiggy, in a very mathy sort of way :P

SO I did the flat math here. And all things being equal it comes down to this:

With a 7-man table are you going to have more or less that 83% of the fun you'd have at a 6? More, than the 7 doesn't hurt. Less and he does.

Of course this doesn't take into consideration things like "Will the player who goes home return?"

Sovereign Court

Michael Brock wrote:

1) Make 7 player tables illegal. This is the single biggest complaint I had as a Venture-Captain in Atlanta. It almost always make for a poorer experience at the table for both GMs and players. That one extra player at a table really does drag the game down.

Thoughts?

Please do not do this. While large tables are not ideal, and are generally avoided they are occasionally necessary. Conventions often have difficulty finding enough judges or players of the correct levels to balance well into tables of 6 or less. So occasionally they have a 7 person table. Without that then someone would have to sit out. It is no fun to be the person at a convention with nothing to play.

7 is the odd number. If there were 8 people then you could easily make two 4 person tables and work things out that way. But with 7 you cannot split things well (if there is a judge available) I'm not sure a table of 3 is legal or not I forget but it shouldn't be if it is.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Doctor Smite wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:

1) Make 7 player tables illegal. This is the single biggest complaint I had as a Venture-Captain in Atlanta. It almost always make for a poorer experience at the table for both GMs and players. That one extra player at a table really does drag the game down.

Thoughts?

Please do not do this. While large tables are not ideal, and are generally avoided they are occasionally necessary. Conventions often have difficulty finding enough judges or players of the correct levels to balance well into tables of 6 or less. So occasionally they have a 7 person table. Without that then someone would have to sit out. It is no fun to be the person at a convention with nothing to play.

7 is the odd number. If there were 8 people then you could easily make two 4 person tables and work things out that way. But with 7 you cannot split things well (if there is a judge available) I'm not sure a table of 3 is legal or not I forget but it shouldn't be if it is.

3s are legal with the judge playing one of the pregens to make it a 4 man table.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Doctor Smite wrote:
7 is the odd number. If there were 8 people then you could easily make two 4 person tables and work things out that way. But with 7 you cannot split things well (if there is a judge available) I'm not sure a table of 3 is legal or not I forget but it shouldn't be if it is.

A 3-seater is legal if the GM rounds out the party by playing a pregen.


Jiggy wrote:


A 3-seater is legal if the GM rounds out the party by playing a pregen.

Which imho is not a great experience either. Couple this with the great possibility that the GM wasn't planning on GMing but rather playing hence is running the mod cold... and it's just not all that great.

Planned and staffed perfectly things will go fine. But this is an ideal and not the norm in many places for a myriad of reasons.

Personally I think that tables should be aimed for 5 players rather than either 6 or 4. Having a divergence of 2 from this would not be nearly as common as aiming for 6 and happening to have an odd one higher.

-James

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Croatia & Slovenia aka shadowcat

cblome59 wrote:


Put yourself in the place of the guy being forced to go home. Now imagine you are a new player. Now imagine you drove 3 hours this morning to come play (Yes, this does happen in my Omaha group). What's the fair thing to do?

Don't you guys use some sort of registration tool? Its a hell of a risk to drive 3hrs if there is a chance of overflowing tables and it makes sense to give the organizers heads up to prepare more GMs than to demand of them to regularly be prepared to bend backwards to accomodate 'possible' player overflow?

I get the need to be flexible if someone just walks in but it makes more sense to ask people to preregister or something, just to have enough time to prepare everything. In the end that will help both GMs and players to have a better experience and those rare walk-ins shouldn't be a problem.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
shadowcat wrote:
cblome59 wrote:


Put yourself in the place of the guy being forced to go home. Now imagine you are a new player. Now imagine you drove 3 hours this morning to come play (Yes, this does happen in my Omaha group). What's the fair thing to do?

Don't you guys use some sort of registration tool? Its a hell of a risk to drive 3hrs if there is a chance of overflowing tables and it makes sense to give the organizers heads up to prepare more GMs than to demand of them to regularly be prepared to bend backwards to accomodate 'possible' player overflow?

I get the need to be flexible if someone just walks in but it makes more sense to ask people to preregister or something, just to have enough time to prepare everything. In the end that will help both GMs and players to have a better experience and those rare walk-ins shouldn't be a problem.

We don't use a registration tool. For multiple reasons that annoy the dickens out of me, but basically come down to lazy players. I'm trying to change that but the club is resistant to change (and other than organizing PFS, I have no real authority). There are many groups out there that don't use a registration tool. And I have had to send the distance guy home before. I feel like a dirtbag when it happens, I'd rather not associate bad feelings with providing gaming opportunities.

The club has worked for a decade by dealing with player overflow as it comes. It generally works for us; I rarely make a 7 man table. But, it can still happen, and I'd rather have that option than to send soemone away. I'm more than willing to deal with restrictions to the 7-man table if Campaign Staff believes it's being overused. Just don't remove it completely.

Sovereign Court

shadowcat wrote:
Don't you guys use some sort of registration tool? Its a hell of a risk to drive 3hrs if there is a chance of overflowing tables and it makes sense to give the organizers heads up to prepare more GMs than to demand of them to regularly be prepared to bend backwards to accomodate 'possible' player overflow?

There are plenty of problems with a registration system:

-Not friendly to walk-ins.
-Someone has to manage it, and that can be a chore.
-The vast bulk of gamers in my experience, bizarrely, aren't netizens the way people who post on forums are.
-Dealing with the complex web of each player having different characters that have played different modules needs in-the-moment face time.
-People don't show up or cancel at the last minute for all sorts of reasons.

I can see becoming draconian once you get to a high attendance level, where 40 people are showing up each week, but when it's 15-20 and there is normally enough space and time to just wing it, then only someone who is hard core and wants this to be a part time job is going to be on top of everything.

I also suppose you've got "anal culture" and "laid back culture" that emerges just from the participants, and can thus shape how this whole issue is perceived. We're composed of a lot of laid back people. What anal people are in our group who get wound up about things are greeted with a chorus of shoulder shrugs.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Croatia & Slovenia aka shadowcat

I hope that changes for you because preregistration is an awesome thing. I know I barely started organizing PFS but it's a tool I wouldn't want to be without. It also helps players plan their time in advance and I can pull some of them off players list if it looks like we'll have more tables.

and I do hope it will stay like that :)

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
shadowcat wrote:

I hope that changes for you because preregistration is an awesome thing. I know I barely started organizing PFS but it's a tool I wouldn't want to be without. It also helps players plan their time in advance and I can pull some of them off players list if it looks like we'll have more tables.

and I do hope it will stay like that :)

I plan on doing in store sign up sheets for the next game day (we do 2 days a month). I'm doing this in order to prep judges more than to prep players though.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:
Doctor Smite wrote:
7 is the odd number. If there were 8 people then you could easily make two 4 person tables and work things out that way. But with 7 you cannot split things well (if there is a judge available) I'm not sure a table of 3 is legal or not I forget but it shouldn't be if it is.
A 3-seater is legal if the GM rounds out the party by playing a pregen.

Pathfinder is a game, but it is a social game. Tables of 4 and 5 are fine, but given a choice between a 7 person table or two tables with 3 players, carrying a pregen, likely a cleric, to make 4 that someone needs to run does not seem all that enjoyable. I regularly travel several times a year to play with friends at cons, were we have sat 4-6 tables sometimes, others have 3 tables of 6-7 players due to the judges available, level differences, and other factors. I also play with friends from decent distances a few times a year were there are 8 of us - the option of breaking up to play to 3 person tables when we have setup and travelled to play together and socialize is unattractive and far removed from the idea of us playing this campaign to have fun together. Circumstances very in every case and opinion, but the 7 player table issues that are voiced may be concern to some, but do not assume that everyone believes that playable and fun absolutely ends when 7 player tables occur.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Croatia & Slovenia aka shadowcat

Mok wrote:


There are plenty of problems with a registration system:

-Not friendly to walk-ins.
-Someone has to manage it, and that can be a chore.
-The vast bulk of gamers in my experience, bizarrely, aren't netizens the way people who post on forums are.
-Dealing with the complex web of each player having different characters that have played different modules needs in-the-moment face time.
-People don't show up or cancel at the last minute for all sorts of reasons.

I can see becoming draconian once you get to a high attendance level, where 40 people are showing up each week, but when it's 15-20 and there is normally enough space and time to just wing it, then only someone who is hard core and wants this to be a part time job is going to be on top of everything.

I also suppose you've got "anal culture" and "laid back culture" that emerges just from the participants, and can thus shape how this whole issue is perceived. We're composed of a lot of laid back people. What anal people are in our group who get wound up about things are greeted with a chorus of shoulder shrugs.

I'll try keeping it walk-in friendly with 5 people tables.. so it will be easier to squeeze more players.

Where I live, english is not native language so all players have to know english to use books so it ends up most of them (or all) are netizens. Also starting this thing up from scratch gives me enough space to lay ground rules.

I suppose I'll be running into these issues at some point but I'll stay an optimist for now :)

Grand Lodge 5/5

Shadowcat

I do agree - good organization and pre-registration should be done if possible. But sometimes it just can't be done.

I remember a CON I organized a year ago. I had 3 tables a year earlier and not a clue how many people to expect. The CON doesn't do pre-registration. To allow some planning and to advertise I posted the PFS schedule and offered to reserve places for players.

I tried to make it attractive for old players and to allow higher tier scenarios as well as having more than enough space for new players.

What happened next took me by surprise. One poster - not a PFS player - started to accuse PFS of elitism, that we didn't wanted any fresh blood, that you would only be allowed to play if you know 'the secret hand-shake'. It bordered on hate-mail just because I dared to allow partial pre-booking.

I tried my best to aliviate all concerns and tried not to inflame anything further. Later a moderator and CON organizer stepped in and gave PFS an official exemption status.

In the end we had several old players and about 30 walk-ins - most first time players. And we didn't send any away - not even the group that showed up 5 minute late after all tables had been seated.

What helped was to have reserve GMs which either joined a table to play last minute or which I could pull at a moments notice.

Having a decent pre-registration. I would love to have that at this specific CON. But this only works if CON organizers or other venues also do the same.

I also did a few games to attract new blood at my local wargame club. They have no pre-registration. And I wouldn't expect them to start one just because I show up once in a while.
You either chat up people in advance or just show up and join in. So the best you can do as a guest - organize a core of players to ensure you have enough to have a legal game (at least 3 players) and hope for walk-ins whom you accept on the spot.
After all this is the reason you try to spread the game. A problem arises if you suddenly have a group who might join - and drive the table size to 7 or to play something else. On one hand it is the best what can happen - to attract multiple players at once. At the same time you can't send one back home as in this case likely all will just play something different.

That reminds me - I should try a new recruitment drive there again.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:
(I seem to recall Josh Frost once suggesting that one person could GM the same adventure at two tables, simultaneously, offering that as a possible solution.)

My home group has 8 players. They do not all make it to every session but there are times that they do. It is still very common to play 6 or 7 at the table. The few times I have had 8 I did split the table and run both sessions at the same time.

It worked (and would only ever work for a home game) but I found it to be a bit stressful. I alternated rounds between the A Team and the B Team. Because of character make up they were playing at different tiers.

All that said, I think there is a need for the 7 player table. I would hate to see that go away. It would limit our group's participation in PFS.

I also see this as an issue for events. There is a finite number of GMs, meaning a finite number of tables and ultimately players. If you want the events to remain inclusive, there needs to be flexibility to expand the tables.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Croatia & Slovenia aka shadowcat

@Thod: Thank you for sharing the experiences :)

I am aware of differences between Con play and different kinds of regular games. What I proposed is connected to regular, local games that are open to everyone.
When Cons come to play (next big one here is in March) I'll probably go with a combination of preregistration and on the spot lists (depending on how many GMs I'll muster).

Also, there are certain specifics in my area - one single gaming store, no available paizo stuff, very small, almost closeted RPG scene that has barely even heard of PFS (although Pathfinder definitely won over 4th ed), and because all that, geeks mostly *have to* use computers to stay informed on anything connected with gaming in public (and that in itself is still extremely uncommon, unless board or cardgames are in question).
That's why this approach with preregistration has a better chance to work in my area

So I guess my bottom line is that this whole monster-thread boils down to exactly where we started - it would be best to keep tables at manageable size unless we as GMs have to choose between turning someone away and blowing the table up to 7 players in which case its preferable to *not* turn anyone away, be it by allowing larger groups or fragmenting tables to 3PCs + NPC

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

So this is the vibe I'm mostly getting: 7 player tables are not the optimal PFS experience but the flexibility they give coordinators is good. Not everybody agrees and it's dangerous to assume us yahoos on the PFS boards accuratly represent the PFS population as a whole.

Here's an idea which solves the stated issues but probably wouldn't be especially popular:

Cap tables at 5 with "play play play" allowing 6 to be seated so player's won't be turned away.

Scarab Sages

Stormfriend wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Help me rationalize that please?

I worked for a retail store as a customer services manager many moons ago and we had a strict policy of no refunds (except where legally required). I was surprised, but as I was a new employee I adhered to that rule as if my job depended on it. When a customer complained to head office they authorised the refund and told me I should have used my initiative instead (and authorised it). What can you do? :-)

I believe LG had a strict limit of 6 players. I saw any number of 7 and even 8 player tables running but the tables were reported as two 4s or the like instead. I'm pretty sure the triad members consented to such behaviour if it got the games played, but that may have varied between regions. It was never official, but that didn't stop it happening.

If you ban 7 player tables I don't expect anything to change, you'll just get an increase in the number of smaller tables reported and GMs at problem venues will gain stars more rapidly than before as they're 'running the mod twice'. LG didn't have a star system so no-one really cared, but if stars mean prizes in PFS then that could cause friction. It also reduces the accuracy of your reporting information, such as average table size, or number of tables.

Assuming someone complains and you find out the numbers are being gamed somewhere then what are you going to do? Ban the organiser from organising PFS and watch them switch to LFR? Ban the GM at the venue that doesn't have enough GMs? Punish them in some way, when they're only volunteers in the first place? I think you'll just make life difficult for yourself to be honest.

I would tackle the 7 player problem by encouraging people to step up and GM at short notice. That comes down to adding incentives:
1. Allow people to gain GM benefit from a scenario more than once (different character each time they run it). Some of us like to create stables of characters and there are more archetypes now than we'll ever get the chance...

IMHO the best post here, and I agree 100%

Liberty's Edge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

Pirate Rob wrote:


Cap tables at 5 with "play play play" allowing 6 to be seated so player's won't be turned away.

To make sure people are aware of this, Play, Play, play! is no longer in the rules, Though parts of it have been put in the PFS rules in other ways, changed and clarified.

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