Character Audit at large Conventions - a proposal


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Grand Lodge 5/5

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I'm just back from Conception. Most of it was a very good experience and I enjoyed all the players at my table. But one incident left a slight taint on it.

As GM I felt forced to perform a character audit during game session.

Playing tier 1-2 and facing the most deadly monster (AC17, DR 5/good, 30+ HP) it got 'killed' with the first action in combat by a player using a bow and rolling mediocre.

Feeling that this was a little bit too good to be possible I felt forced to do a on-the spot review. I felt I uncovered enough issues to re-instate the monster with half HP and carry on. In addition I asked the player to stay on after the game for a more in detailed review.

The gory details as far as I remember them:

Everything below is as far as I remember it and I tried to check I'm correct. But I might do mistakes.

The players tried to bluff their way past the monster but failed. They approached (assuming they where save) giving the monster a suprise attack -> not flat footed.

The player in question did win the Initiative with a value in the mid 20ties. He claimed a +7 initiative that helped him to act first.

He then double attacked with dice rolls of 10 and 12 (as far as I remember - certainly low 10+)

The player claimed a +7 on to hit and did damage in the low 30ties with both shots combined. This was 2 or 3 higher as the monster total HP.

His point buy was okay with a 10, 10, 14, 14, 14, 16(14+2) array. Of importance here are only

Str 10, Dex 14, Wis 16

So how was this incredible feat possible with average dice rolls?

The character was a Human Inquisitor lvl 3 (playing down), he did have 2 holy arrows that they had picked up earlier.

He claimed 4 feats during the combat:
Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Deadly Aim, Rapid Shot

The rapid shot was necessary to attack twice, deadly aim to boost the damage, precise shot to avoid the minus for shooting into combat, point blank shot for another bonus.

With hindsight I calculate
BAB +2, Dex +2, +1 (inside 30 feet), no minus from combat, +1 Magic Bow, -1 Deadly Aim, -2 Rapid Shot, +1 Bracers of Archery +1
+7 / -3 for a total of +4

A +7 was claimed (100% of positive modifiers) and I reduced it to a +5 as a on the spot decision after the quick review to allow 1 hit. With hindsight this was too generous as I should have subtracted at least -4 from the rolls (see also equipment).

I didn't query the damage of 17(?) and 16(?) as the main issue was hit or no hit.

The audit after the game revealed the following

Feat overspend - he should only have 3 feats as Human Inquisitor level 3. The whole attack wasn't possible in the way it happened.

Money overspend - In his posession was a Ring of protection, Cloak of Resistance, +1 Composite Longbow, Bracers of Archery (lesser), +1 Buckler, one other magical 2K item

I calculated approx. value of 13K+ (only calculating a magic bow as 2K).
He played up once (?), mainly GM credit including a chronicle for subtier 5-6 with 2.5K.
I re-calculated his gold from the chronicle sheets - assuming 500 for tier 1-2 GM credits and ignoring items used up. This gave max gold of 5.3K (? - only get to 4.3 now when I add 5*500 + 1800 for one scenario played up but maybe he played up twice)

He did remove excess items from his sheet after the game and deleted some 7K of items (I think I had missed the buckler when I did the original calculation and didn't go back when I spotted this one)

Not everything I feared wrong was wrong:

The initiative of +7 was actually valid as I wasn't aware of Inquisitors having cunning Initiative resulting in a correct value (+2 Trait, +3 Dex, +3 Cunning Initiative)
I didn't recalculate the damage but anyway I did short change him here as nobody looked up holy and they accepted +1d6 extra damage instead of +2d6

Other issues:
I think he was claiming his +1 Buckler (+2 AC) all time for his AC despite for an total AC off 20 (should have been 18). This wasn't game altering as he had enough HP - but I might have done one or two more hits on him.

Audits at the game table in general are bad in my view.

Reasons I dislike audits at the table:

An audit during game play in general is bad. You don't have the time to unravel the exact value if you have a hand written character sheet and the player doesn't know where all his boni are coming from. In this case there were at least 8 different modifiers that resulted in the to hit modifier.
An audit during the game with overruling the player results also has the issue that you more or less accuse a player in front of an audience that he is wrong. I tried to do this assertive but non-confrontational. Once I had convinced myself that at least part of the numbers were wrong I did a ruling and carried on. Postponing a more in depth audit for the time after the game.
It takes time and disrupts game flow. All other players are relegated as watchers.
The surounding sometimes can be bad. In this specific case I had a 6 player table in a noisy area with my young daughter at the table as well who also needed the occasional extra attention from me.
You have to be careful as GM not to send in 'grudge monsters' or target a player because you feel his actions are questionable. An audit will reinforce this.

An audit after the game is preferable but also has issues if you are at a CON

Even a GM needs a break:

As GM you should have a right to a break. This was one of three slots I GMed on this specific day. This was probably taking away 20 minutes from my break that I could have used for food, taking care of my family, just relax or chat with fellow players / GMs instead.

There is always the Venture Captain / Organizer. But settling him with these issues isn't great either

Organizers and VCs might be busy as well:

In this specific case the Organizer and VC were one and the same. I did share a lodge with Dave. So I know that he had even less chance of a break as I had. He was GMing as well as you never (seldom) have enough (too many) GMs. And he was the man to go to when an on-the-spot volunteer GM needed a scenario print-out or chronicle sheets. Conception is one of the more chaotic conventions and you can't preplan everything as sign-up happens on the day.
It is not a good time to saddle him/her with even more issues.
Yes - it is important that he/she gets informed (as I did). But I felt I should try to settle as much on my own as possible - at least in the heat of the moment.

But there is also an issue with audits. You don't want to catch the wrong players and discourage them.

Innocent (mainly) players:

I did spend up to 11 at night before the convention to ensure the characters of my wife had proper accounting. She loves to play and finds book-keeping a chore. She also has her 'own' way of accounting that she is doing in Hero-Lab and not on the chronicle sheets. She mainly penelizes herself that way as she often runs around with lots of unspend money. Apart of a full audit it is difficult to figure out exactly her wealth. We nearly had an argument about this ahead of the convention.
I did have another player that I checked and reminded that she still had 2 traits to assign as well as 1 more language.
Players like these won't get a clean sheet in any audit. But in 90% they hurt themselves and forget stuff in their favour more often as claiming something they shouldn't be allowed.

So what about the home GM doing the audit.

In many cases the best solution - but:

I think in most cases that this is the best solution. As a GM I try to keep all my local players legit. I do so by offering a level-up service using HeroLab including advice. This keeps characters legit every time I update them, often makes them better and the players get a free print-out as well.
This unfortunately doesn't work if the audit is needed for a GM (in this instance the character was build using GM credits)
It also doesn't work if players don't have a fixed home GM.

No audits is unfair to other players

Why it is bad for other players:

After I ruled that the enemy was still 'up' I had my daughter use her longbow as she had the other 2 holy arrows that the group found. She also had a level 3 character (rogue), an even better Dex as well as a better roll of the dice. But lacking the proper feats and equipment she missed by 1 and a round later by 2.
It would have helped her a lot to have a small moment of glory at a full table of adults but that was taken by another player who hit the monster when he shouldn't.
And maybe daddy spend too much time the night before to get his wifes characters up to scratch to go through an audit that he didn't optimize hers and left too much money unspend and maybe forgot her point blank shot +1.
All in all she only had items with a total value just shy of 2K with a similar amount of games (need to audit this one and rectify it as well).

So what are the options then?

To me the last convention has unfortunately reinforced my view that audits are necessary. Without them you will slowly erode the motivation of GMs who don't like to handle these issues but who will feel bad to let it just pass.
An audit by the GM often doesn't work. VC and organizers only work if they are not GMs themselve.

But there should be other possibilities.

1) It would be possible to have a table with a Knowledge Rules 10+ player (make use of the often dreaded Rules Lawyer) whom you could send character sheets to. He would have this 'slot' as either a games slot (big convention) or a slot in a break. You could treat him similar in reward as a GM by giving him a GM boon or similar incentive. I guess some players would be pretty good suited for such a role and would be able to contribute this way. Especially if they dislike GMing.

2) You could take photocopies of character sheets and get them reviewed later. Surely there are players / GMs around who love to disect character builds.
This could even be done for a small random population - like doping tests in sport.
You probably wouldn't need all chronicle sheets as well as you roughly know the general wealth curve and only need to check if characters seem widely off that curve.

3) You build up a good community were such things just don't happen. Unfortunately this likely only works locally.

Downsides

A lot of players will see this as 'control' and the initial reaction likely will be negative by most players.

Upsides / Marketing

Put a positive spin on it. Don't call it an audit - rather character help or I'm sure someone here finds a better word for it. I do advertisments for my audits as I more often help players as I do point out illigal issues. We should not come down too hard on minor issues. They happen to the best. And more often then not a more experienced player will be able to rather find missing bits and could give back the sheet with advice for optimization. If there are 4 issues - 3 in disfavour and one in favour of a character then he likely didn't want to take advantage.
Yes - I once did 'find' some 8 missing HP in such an audit that hadn't been applied. That would make it a lot more acceptable and maybe some people even would like to get their sheet 'looked over' by someone experienced to make it better.

Off course - grass errors should be noted, rectified and reported. What happens to players who fail again and again isn't up to me and should be discussed elsewhere.

If you reply - please try to be constructive. Try to make my solutions better or come up with an alternative. The example I gave and that motivated this post should be irrelevant to the general discussion. I know the post would have been better if I left it out. But sometimes the negative aspects motivate you to vent your frustration. I still tried to come up with something workable (at least in my view).

This is an issue I think most of us would like to ignore. But I felt long time it needs attention for the better health of the Pathfinder Society.

Sovereign Court

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An idea that might work is to have some sort of a station.. and most importantly.. TIME set aside prior to game slots scheduled start. Probably need to be run by someone OTHER than the GM(s) so that they can still prep as normal... and have someone to run the audit station while the inevitable lateys trickle up.

Why would a player subject himself to the scrutiny? Well, as you thought, some might appreciate honest criticism. But another idea that I'll throw out is piggy-backing off the t-shirt reroll idea.

Allow anyone who got their character audited a free reroll in the session.

Shadow Lodge 2/5

I've considered an opt-in audit. I (the event organizer) would show up 15+ minutes before game and conduct audits on anyone who wanted them. I feel most errors are just that, errors and not intentional.

Still, it's more of my time spent, and I'm not perfect either so I'm sure I'll miss things too. And the truly nefarious player will just avoid the audits.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Yes - time is an issue. But I guess once it becomes more accepted you will find the time.

100% optional wouldn't work in my view. But 80% optional might go a long way.

Back tomorrow to reply again.


Thod wrote:


As GM I felt forced to perform a character audit during game session.

Playing tier 1-2 and facing the most deadly monster (AC17, DR 5/good, 30+ HP) it got 'killed' with the first action in combat by a player using a bow and rolling mediocre.

Well as a theoretical exercise:

If he had divine favor active (which seems unlikely, but let's go with it) for +1/+1 luck then he could

swift action: judgement for +2 to hit.

Then he would be +7 to hit (+2BAB +2DEX +1magic +1PBS +1luck +2sacred +1comp -1deadly aim -2rapid shot) for 1d8 +2d6 (holy) +1(magic) +1(luck) +1 (feat) +2 (deadly aim) which would average 16.5 per hit, or 33damage on average.

Now forensically I would guess that he put down a teamwork feat (bonus at 3rd level) then went back later and thought 'I'd rather have this feat instead' and not realized where the teamwork feat was from.. This happens a lot for both players and for writers.

Now to the main thrust of your post:

I think it would be a GREAT thing to do! I also think that the idea of a re-roll would be nice incentive along with a 'stamp of approval' so to speak, should such a situation come up.

-James

5/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—NSW—Sydney aka lastblacknight

Auditing vs Help

We do a fair bit of 'help' in store and on our games days as well.

I enjoy using Herolab the only issue I have is we haven't been able to get an 'audit view report' working from them yet. (PC Gen has a nice little report - it's a bit ugly - but it shows what makes up each calculation.

New players don't really get the same understanding that you get by manually performing each step on a manual character sheet. It's become a trade off as we get more time-poor. It's often easier to put together a legal character quickly and get them started rather than hold up the table whilst someone explains all the intricacies of character creation.

I am thinking of running a Character Generation workshop on one of our off weeks.

Perhaps you could talk to you VC about helping out in preparation to upcoming cons?

Lone Wolf Development

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One option is to require all characters at the table be built using a software tool of your choice. The Character Creation Stations we did for Hero Lab at PaizoCon and GenCon have been very well received as a means of allowing players to quickly enter their characters before games and have them vetted by the software. There are quite a few stores and Cons that have begun adopting this approach as well, with some now even requiring characters to be built with Hero Lab (although you could instead use PCGen or your favorite spreadsheet).

For those of you considering this option, Lone Wolf Development often provides free product licenses for the computers that will be used at these stations. If anyone is interested in pursuing this idea further, please drop us an email and we can figure out how best to support your efforts.

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

lonewolf-rob wrote:
There are quite a few stores and Cons that have begun adopting this approach as well, with some now even requiring characters to be built with Hero Lab (although you could instead use PCGen or your favorite spreadsheet).

I know of no stores or Cons that require characters to be built in Herolab or in any other particular format. Do you have an example of this?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Personally, I feel it would be wrong for a store or convention to require its players use a particular software package to create/maintain their characters, unless said entity was providing the app for free. I love HeroLab and wish more players would use it, but I stop short of requiring it.

As a GM/organizer all I ask is that you use a character sheet that is similar in layout and readability to the standard PFS version. Whether that be a custom excel sheet, a printed HeroLab sheet, one from PCGen, etc. doesn't matter to me. But it reduces the amount of confusion when the GM asks to audit your sheet.

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

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Personally, I feel it would be wrong for a store or convention to require its players use a particular software package to create/maintain their characters, unless said entity was providing the app for free.
lonewolf-rob wrote:
For those of you considering this option, Lone Wolf Development often provides free product licenses for the computers that will be used at these stations. If anyone is interested in pursuing this idea further, please drop us an email and we can figure out how best to support your efforts.

Well there you go Bob!..

Though most likely will not include all the additional books.


Thod,

An additional note for you on the audit you did. If that sub-tier 5-6 chronicle he had really was from GM credit, then his character was also illegal for that, as you cannot apply a GM chronicle to a character til that character reaches the minimum level of the chronicle. So his level 3 character could not have a sub-tier 5-6 GM chronicle at all. Anything he bought from that chronicle and the 2.5k gold would have all been invalid. He would not have had the PP or XP from that chronicle and may not have even been 3rd level because of this, thus even more invalidating his build.

I know a lot of GMs either do not have the time or simply do not like to audit, but by the rules it is supposed to be done before the scenario starts. Even if you do nothing other than count the chronicles, and the sub-tiers of the chronicles, to make sure the character is legal, it really should be done.

Lone Wolf Development

Pirate Rob wrote:
I know of no stores or Cons that require characters to be built in Herolab or in any other particular format. Do you have an example of this?

I'll have to get the answer from our Bus-Dev guy. All I remember is that he told me about an upcoming Con where the organizers were planning to have *eight* machines available to players and require every character to go through Hero Lab for vetting. Players did not have to purchase anything, as all the necessary resources were being provided. So it would entail a few minutes for each player to enter the character and print it out with the validation report at the bottom. Everybody is happy.

We've been doing the equivalent with our Army Builder product for miniatures tournaments for more than a decade. There are many stores and tournaments that require Army Builder rosters, while many other venues simply say they prefer them.

Hero Lab has reached the point where it's well-respected among Pathfinder players and makes perfect sense as a vetting tool for Pathfinder. It's a logical next step in environments where the organizers feel that vetting is important. That's obviously a subjective decision that will vary from one group of organizers to another. And that's why I floated the idea simply as an option for those who consider vetting important.

Lone Wolf Development

Dragnmoon wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
Personally, I feel it would be wrong for a store or convention to require its players use a particular software package to create/maintain their characters, unless said entity was providing the app for free.
lonewolf-rob wrote:
For those of you considering this option, Lone Wolf Development often provides free product licenses for the computers that will be used at these stations. If anyone is interested in pursuing this idea further, please drop us an email and we can figure out how best to support your efforts.

Well there you go Bob!..

Though most likely will not include all the additional books.

Please don't quote me on this, since I'm not the guy in charge of this stuff. However, I believe that we generally provide all of "core" books, including the APG, UC, and UM. If anyone wants the specifics, you can email us and ultimately talk with John - he's the one coordinating all this stuff.

2/5

I've seen mistakes on some players PCs, blatant mistakes like a 1st level PC having full plate +2. When I asked how he got it, he showed me how he "played up" to subtier 7-11.

When I said you can't do that, he said "I don't make the rules, I just do what the GM tells me.". Unfortunately his GM was right there and I was outnumbered and a guest at their home game, lol. But you get my meaning.

I can tell when a player is the type of person that cheats (or make "mistakes") without even looking at their sheet tbh. Maybe it's a skill left over from high school D&D sessions.

Most Gencon people are precise though, their PCs are 100% accurate, it's mostly local conventions and home play.

I'm all for doing some kind of audit, the question is always about time. Best case scenario is you have a dedicated auditor / troubleshooter, if someone doesn't mind doing that.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Lonewolf Rob

Thanks for the suggestions in regard to HeroLab. I more or less do this already as a service for my local players using my private copy. It is great to hear you do support bigger conventions. I will suggest this to the organizer for PaizoCon UK. Maybe this could be done for Conception next year - having a dedicated PC running HeroLab (and a printer) at the reception area.

All

I don't think that only HeroLab generated characters should be used at any conventions. This would likely drive away participants. I much more like it as 'a service' to help out.
But I would advocate that as a table GM you should have the rights to send a player who shows suspicious builds to such a station to show a valid build.
This shouldn't be done for minor issues - but it would be helpful if as GM you have support to demand this if you see gross errors in a build.

Enevhar

Yes - to a certain degree the build was non-legal. But I rather prefer to have it corrected as to send a player away. In regard to do audits ahead of the game. This was the 9 o clock morning slot. Mustering started at 8:45. I might have walked with my group to the table at 8:55 and also had to take care of minis, sheets, dice for the rest of my family in addition to be ready as a GM.
So no - all I did was to ask for the level of the character and trust that all is okay.

James Maisson:

Yes - it is theoretically possible. But no buff or special Inquisitor power was claimed to reach these values. That made me a little bit suspicous. I had also been 'warned' about that player to look closer.

The player forgot to
deduct -1 for Deadly Aim
deduct -2 for Rapid Shot
had a non-affordable Bracers of Archery (lesser) for 5000gp that he took of the sheet after the audit (after the game)
Seems to have one feat overspend which made the whole action not possible. He either needs to take off Deadly Aim or Precise Shot or Rapid Shot. Depending which feat you take off you would affect the result in different ways. So either he would hit - but with a single arrow (taking off Rapid Shot) or he wouldn't hit in melee (taking off Precise Shot) or would do less damage (taking off Deadly Aim). Unfortunately I didn't spot the feat overspend while doing the audit. He was human - so I thought it adds up.


Thod wrote:


James Maisson:

Oh, like I said it sounded like the player made a lot of mistakes (whether intentional or not).. much like you misspelling my last name there.

My point was that simply the result was not AS out of line as you alluded originally.

But again I think the idea is simply wonderful. I recall going out to a con with a friend who asked me to audit their LG character 'just to make sure' as they wanted a second pair of eyes on it. This was far more detailed a task then than it is now in PFS as this was back in year 2 of LG (nicknamed at the time 'living accounting')!

As to cons 'requiring' it, I'd suggest the following: Have a place where they can enter this in online BEFORE the con. They can then pick up character sheets AT the con, as well as know that the judges they have been preassigned to have copies of their characters.

I know that before warhorn became the staple that some of this was done way back. It greatly aided mustering because it would account for a player having multiple characters. Now then they didn't have full character sheets entered, but it's quite possible.

-James


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james maissen wrote:


As to cons 'requiring' it, I'd suggest the following: Have a place where they can enter this in online BEFORE the con. They can then pick up character sheets AT the con, as well as know that the judges they have been preassigned to have copies of their characters.

-James

so in addition to lugging all of my crap with me and prepping to run games I'm supposed to have time to read over unfamiliar character sheets and audit them? Please tell me I'm misunderstanding you.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I can't speak for James, o wondrous catbunnygnome thing, but I'm understanding him differently.

Any time there's an audit, there has to be somebody taking the time to do the audit. 15 minutes per character or something doesn't sound like much, but a mid-size convention like Winter War probably had 80 or 100 PCs. So, 20 - 25 hours.

But those people doing the auditing don't need to be the same people who are volunteering to be table GMs.

Having said that, if it were possible, I would dearly love to have the opportunity to look over the PC sheets before a PFS session, to acquaint myself with their capabilities, look up the effects of their wonky items, and fine tune the scenario to their benefit. So, if something like that were implemented, I would probably choose to volunteer to audit the PCs for my tables, myself.


Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:


so in addition to lugging all of my crap with me and prepping to run games I'm supposed to have time to read over unfamiliar character sheets and audit them? Please tell me I'm misunderstanding you.

You are and Chris has the meat of it.

I'm not saying that a judge HAS to look over the group they will run. But being ABLE to do so would be a plus.

Being able to know what factions you will have at the table, if there is a faction mission requiring skill X but the table doesn't have that skill/ non of the faction members have that skill, whether the undead heavy scenario will be tackled by a group with multiple clerics and undead favored enemy rangers with undead bane arrows or a bunch of enchantment specialty bards and sorcerers...

Moreover you might get an idea that as you prep the scenario that you will want to highlight this or that based on the party makeup.

Also you get a chance to see any strange feats, items or the like that you would otherwise have to look up DURING a combat.

In short it lets you prep the slot more thoroughly should you so choose.

As a side benefit glaring mistakes like the one prompting this thread would not occur, and should someone be making mistakes (intentional or not) you could have a very accurate idea of where they should be to highlight that for you.

We live in a digital age, we should take advantage of it to some extent,

James


It is the responsibility of a GM to check over peoples character and chronicle sheets. From my experience mistakes do happen, my last audit of a table only 2 people had everything that I noticed correct. What I saw was a single fame/item cost issue. An eidolon with max hp, less than max HP or Skill points from a player.

When I do a quick inspection it is about 3-5 minutes per character, I check off attributes and HP and skill points then I move to chronicle sheets looking for item purchases.

Now the problem comes with higher level characters and higher level resources and archtype builds.


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so answer me this ... when does it become the responsibility of the player to take responsibility for their own things..

case in point.. as a judge I already

bring all the books
bring the scenario
bring the minis
bring the chronicles
am supposed to know the rules

Why to players get to get away with having me, as their judge, look over their character to make sure that they have done things right. If, as a judge, I'm required to know the scenario, understand the basics of the game that I'm going to be running, etc. Why can't players take responsibility for making sure their character is correct.

I'm not saying that an audit is wrong, but why does that have to become just one more thing that I already have to do? If I'm judging at a major convention the absolute last thing I want to do is to have 7/8 slots worth of characters to audit and check off. To be perfectly honest I don't want to have to care that player X has this feat and that trait. I'm not going to change how I prep the scenario based on the party make-up.

I can see offering the option of having someone at the convention/gameday/party whatever audit a character, but I don't believe that it should fall on the judge to audit all the characters for each slot they are running, that is asking way to much from people who volunteer their time and again, in all honesty, if it comes down to that as much as I love judging and playing the game I'd probably quit all together.

As for looking things up in advance, maybe I'm naive, but I trust the player to understand what his feat or item X does and if I have a question about it or question their explanation of it, then it can be looked up, generally players know where to find things in the CRB and other books.

In regards to faction missions, I've gotten fairly good (close to 80 scenarios judged I would say gives me this) at making adjustments on the fly and making it work for both the theme of the scenario and for the players.

James; I know you don't like this being thrown back at you, but in this instance I'm going to. When you judge a full major convention (like Gencon with 10 slots) and have time with all the preparation that that takes to audit all the characters for all your slots, then you can say that that is something that should be done. Until then, please stop trying to make a volunteer position into more than it should be. I'm loathe to take critiques and advise from someone who (on the surface) has had no involvement with PFS play/judging.

**I'm basing this information on what I can view from clicking on your name .. not from any insider knowledge; ***


Chris Bonnet wrote:


When I do a quick inspection it is about 3-5 minutes per character, I check off attributes and HP and skill points then I move to chronicle sheets looking for item purchases.

And you take the first half hour of each slot for this?

I think that's a solid reason to do this ahead of time when possible.. beyond all the other reasons already brought up here.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

james maissen wrote:
Chris Bonnet wrote:


When I do a quick inspection it is about 3-5 minutes per character, I check off attributes and HP and skill points then I move to chronicle sheets looking for item purchases.

And you take the first half hour of each slot for this?

I think that's a solid reason to do this ahead of time when possible.. beyond all the other reasons already brought up here.

It seems that character audits/checkups/overviews should ideally happen at the local gaming store before each game (or at least routinely). If we have lots of people doing the legwork for the people that attend cons, it makes the workload at the end lighter and more manageable. I don't know how this would work in practice for other gms, but I've started taking the first 30 minutes before my local games to skim through other players chronicles, just to make sure everything's kosher.

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

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
Stuff

Though I understand where you are coming from Thea and I would not expect you to look over every character sheet every time, I will say this...

It is listed as a responsibility of a GM

PFS Guide Pg 24 wrote:

Your Duties as Game Master

  • Look over each player’s character sheet and previous Chronicle sheets, quickly checking wealth, equipment, calculations, and so on.

With time permitted I try to do so, though I will admit it does not happen all the time, But I have found myself doing so as the OP did after seeing something possibly inaccurate during a game.


Dragnmoon wrote:
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
Stuff

Though I understand where you are coming from Thea and I would not expect you to look over every character sheet every time, I will say this...

It is listed as a responsibility of a GM

PFS Guide Pg 24 wrote:

Your Duties as Game Master

  • Look over each player’s character sheet and previous Chronicle sheets, quickly checking wealth, equipment, calculations, and so on.
With time permitted I try to do so, though I will admit it does not happen all the time, But I have found myself doing so as the OP did after seeing something possibly inaccurate during a game.

Dragnmoon... point taken, however, what is being proposed is that judges look over each and every character before they judge at a convention. I think that exceeds the bounds of what the rule states.

If there are glaring errors I can certainly see looking over a character sheet ... but not only does that eat up game time, it only serves in embarrassing the player and possibly contributing to the society losing a member.

Liberty's Edge 4/5

Thea,

Bad news.

From the PFSOP Guide to Organized Play, v4.1:
Your Duties as Game Master
Look over each player’s character sheet and previous
Chronicle sheets, quickly checking wealth, equipment,
calculations, and so on.

Sorry, but it is, indeed, something you have already been supposed to be doing.

On the positive side, players are ALWAYS supposed to be the primary person responsible for their characte4r being completely legal for PFS play.

Unfortunately, because some people are either really bad at math, or aren't paying enough attention, or just outright cheat, the GM has to step up and run an occassional character verification, which is part of their responsibility to the other players at the table.

Hope the knowledge of this responsibility accruing to GMs doesn't drive you away from GMing PFS...

Grand Lodge

This is a great idea but is difficult to do in reality.
Luckily, we have something called PLAYER JEALOUSY that quickly identifies errors when they arise.

Here's a silly example:
-MOWGLI the 3rd level barbarian deals 36 damage on a charge-
RULESY the fighter: How the hell did you manage to deal that much?!
MOWGLI: I have, er, strength 20, and a +1 holy greataxe, and ah, weapon specialisation and power attack.
GM: Can I see your sheet please? I think I'll need a red pen too.

It disturbs combat, but that's the way it's got to be.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Chris Mortika wrote:

I can't speak for James, o wondrous catbunnygnome thing, but I'm understanding him differently.

Any time there's an audit, there has to be somebody taking the time to do the audit. 15 minutes per character or something doesn't sound like much, but a mid-size convention like Winter War probably had 80 or 100 PCs. So, 20 - 25 hours.

There are some people who seem to think that we have some huge surplus of convention volounteers that devoting 80 or so manhours to this kind of audit process is something that can be done blithely.

So yes... the OP may have caught a cheater at his table. The fact is people cheat. They cheat at PFS, they cheated at ARcanis, they cheated at Living Greyhak, and there were cheaters in Living City.

It's a sad fact of life that there are people who view playing this game as a game of winning and losing, and among them there are those will do anything not to be what they term as "losing".

It would take much to convince me of the merit that because of these scattered few that we should put EVERYONE who plays at our games against the wall like a bloody suspect.

Or we could do our job as bloody GM's. Be alert. If you've got reason to suspect someone... look at his sheet right then and there. And keep in mind that before you call someone a cheater that it's more likely they might be making a mistake.

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

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
but not only does that eat up game time, it only serves in embarrassing the player and possibly contributing to the society losing a member.

If the player does not want to see it as help given, and sees it as a malicious act, and refuses to see it otherwise, losing him is no lost to me.

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

LazarX wrote:
It would take much to convince me of the merit that because of these scattered few that we should put EVERYONE who plays at our games against the wall like a bloody suspect.

Wrong position and attitude.

Though yes it may catch Cheaters, the idea is to help players who made mistakes not accuse them of cheating.

I don't look over character sheets to find a cheater *Though I have* I look over characters to help find and fix mistakes.

Edit: The vast Majority of mistakes I have found have been fixed in the players favor *Missing traits, not spending all ability points, forgetting a bonus here or there, missing favored class bonus*

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

As volounteers we do a lot when it comes to working at conventions. We organise, we print, we marshal, and a bunch of other donkey work things that are required to make conventions go off as far as PFS or any other Network game you can think of.

But we don't get credit for any of that stuff. Because when it comes down to deciding if you're going to be comped for your room and tickets, only one thing counts.... the tables that you judge. And there's only so much comping that's going to be spread around.

So unless a bunch of people who are not going to comped get together to spend all those manhours... it's not going to be done.

Shadow Lodge

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:
case in point.. as a judge I already

All the other judges assure me that you have more than enough time to give finely detailed critiques of player characters and to run two scenarios in a four hour slot. What exactly are you complaining about?

Shadow Lodge

As a GM you are in a bind. If you call a player on something it is absolutely going to embarrass them. It is also very likely to trigger a rules argument at the table in the middle of combat. At most conventions you also have a very small window to fit a game into, generally a four hour slot to fit a 4-5+ hour game session (or in the case of Sewer Dragons apparently 6+). The GM's time before the scenario starts is generally to meet and greet the players and to facilitate introductions. It's very tough to fit an audit into that window of time.

The idea of having an audit table at the con is appealing, but it is also a bit unpleasant, particularly if it's perceived a place where bad players get sent to have their characters fixed. I was thinking it would be less unpleasant to have a reward for players who volunteer to have their character audited. Perhaps players with audited characters would get preferential seating or get access to a special scenario or higher level game.

The other problem with audits is finding someone with the right personality and a strong understanding of the rules. Sitting at a table for hours at a time dealing with players who are not going to be happy when you tell them there is a problem with their character is not going to be a rewarding volunteer job... and if someone does find that rewarding, it's not very likely you want them doing it.

Silver Crusade

I know my character is a bit off on what items he has purchased. I forgot to add on what chronicle he upgraded his weapon, and when he picked up what wands, since I use HeroLab for all of that. However, I *do* know that its all within what he can afford, and his exact CPA/TPA. Having about 8 wands and only 1 real item makes it simple, however.

Grand Lodge 5/5

As I started this thread I just want to be clear:

1) I dislike auditing at the table and like to spend my own time in a more productive manner.

2) Adding a compulsory audit for GMs is not feasible and will drive away players and GMs

3) A just trust everyone and look away attitude doesn't work longtime either

I hope the first two bits address the issue from the fluffy bunny. But I hope Thea also agrees that 3) can be an issue. I started this thread to look if there are any ways to address 3) and not burden the GM too much.

Grand Lodge 5/5

What alternatives are there?

I played a tier 7-11 and one player took on the initiative. Something I have to say I'm not used to as I do this at home myself.

What about a character review done by one or two DF the most experienced players at the table. While the GM preps, draws maps, etc. one player checks sheets and gives advice.

This doesn't always work. But it might be one small step. And that player than can advice others - hey - you forgot Point Blank shot, you forgot favoured enemy, etc.

Actually I'm doing this already when I have my children at my table or when I introduce brand new players to PFS.

Maybe others here have different ideas. Don't burden the GM even more. But also don't just look away.


Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:


Dragnmoon... point taken, however, what is being proposed is that judges look over each and every character before they judge at a convention. I think that exceeds the bounds of what the rule states.

If there are glaring errors I can certainly see looking over a character sheet ... but not only does that eat up game time, it only serves in embarrassing the player and possibly contributing to the society losing a member.

Ok.. first you are WRONG. It is NOT what is being proposed.

What is being proposed is that a player would in essence give his character ahead of time to the con. The PC would be vetted. Either by hand & human or with the probable aid of a computer.

This would SAVE judges time in NOT having to look over a character DURING a slot, which is bound to be disruptive and eat up a lot of game time. While this is in the rules, it does not occur often due to time constraints unless ambiguities arise which, frankly, is the worst time to have to do this (as witnessed by the OP's story).

FURTHER, it would give a judge prepping the mod for a slot the opportunity to see the stats of the party that they will be running ahead of time.

This lets the judge elect to do a few things:

1. Look up any weird feats, items, spells, etc that they are not sure what they do.

2. Look over the rules for a new class that they'd been putting off learning because suddenly they will be judging one. Just as much as you would do if the BBEG were one.

3. Elect to tailor some of the background based on the fact that there are clerics of X at the table or that one of the players has boon X that gives them more information on Y, etc.

4. See ahead of time what factions are represented, and how much difficulty they might have in completing the faction mission.

5. Allow the judge to have a copy of each of the players, so that they never have to ask for a character sheet to see who has what knowledge, make some secret roll, etc.

Now all of these last 5 points are OPTIONAL, and but they are options that currently only exist for home games where you have the same group of people.

-James


Callerek:

Thanks for pointing that out yet again. Yes I see that that has been considered as one of the duties as a judge, and I understand (and personally interpret it this) to mean that if I feel it's necessary based on play at the table, I can certainly audit a character – or probably what I would do would be to have someone else that is better at it look over the character sheet. Do I feel that I need to look at the character sheet of each and every player at my table?? No.. and I'm not sure how many other judges feel they need to either.

The auditing of characters in general certainly does not drive me from judging, however, having to add that one top of prepping for a convention as was suggested is not something I'd be willing to do.

Ogre:
I'm going to take that as a joke.. mkay

James:

I don't feel my interpretation of what you are suggesting is wrong, it may be a wrong interpretation in your book. But from reading the post as it was written, the idea was thrown out there with a level of "this is the way it should be".

I get the point that you're trying to make. However, I don't think it's practical in a large scale setting. Organizers, judges, etc., have more to do to get ready for the con than looking over character sheets and "vetting" them. Perhaps if there was someone dedicated to just that task, but at the same time that can be daunting given the size of the convention. Smaller cons would benefit from having someone dedicated to auditing characters – in fact I would love it if I could just simply say that something doesn't seem right, although I can't put my finger on it so would you mind taking your character over to "con person Y" to have a quick audit done.

What you've suggested though is entirely different. That the judges would receive copies of all the characters slotted to play at their tables over the course of the convention. So that the judges can look over the character sheets and prep accordingly, look up all the nuances of the different characters, see what changes needs to be made based on party make-up, factions etc.,. That is what I see being said and what I'm objecting to.

This is something that would be more beneficial for local gamedays than in a convention setting.. in my opinion.

The Exchange 5/5

gee... maybe I shouldn't mention this but I feel I must.

You are expecting a Judge to know all the rules on character creation. This will never happen. I would like the Judge to know basic combat rules - and mostly this is true, but not always.

The statement "What is being proposed is that a player would in essence give his character ahead of time to the con. The PC would be vetted. Either by hand & human or with the probable aid of a computer."
means that you will have to type into a form everything about your character - about all your characters (any that you would like to play) before each CON you intend to visit, do it after you have played the PC (did you play the Tuesday before the Friday you left for the CON? gives you two evenings to input ALL your characters), but before the CON, and get it all RIGHT. Basicly this would be re-copying each possible character in the two days before the CON...

all I can say is wow...

I have 6 characters. If I needed to re-copy them, or enter them into HeroLab or whatever, I would expect it to take me most of a week... and even then I KNOW I am going to make mistakes. This would make me glad I've decided not to do any more CONs.

And it wont even catch the guys you are wanting to. He'll just input a different character than he is playing at the CON. Or tell you your monster missed when you say "It got a 19 to hit" and his PC has an AC of 17.

The Exchange 5/5

I played last night at a table with the local Cheat. We started late and were pressed for time. Everyone at the table is aware that this guy is a problem. He's "got history". During the start up he asks to buy Black Lotus Extract poison and as the judge is trying to determine if he can use poison I chime in that a PC would need access to buy it. No one questions how he could have +4K in gold to blow on poison (pressed for time).
In the first encounter the DM calls him on cheating on dice rolls. Judge Issues a warning.
In the next encounter he uses a 2nd level spell potion while talking about using several scrolls of 2nd level spells in his last game (more one-shot money items). Everyone rolls eyes.
In final encounter he does a bone headed thing and gets smacked around taking a lot of damage for a 3rd level PC - and the judge has to stop the game to examine his HP (he has about double what he should have had). (just before the final encounter, the Cheat had questioned the HP on the guy beside him - who was running the 4th level Iconic Cleric. So I guess he might have been suffering from HP envy).
At the end of the game the Judge takes time to formally warn the Cheat that if he sat at his table again he better have his character in order.

Would anything we are suggesting here fix the Cheat? I really don't think so. But heck - I've been wrong before, and I'd love to hear some suggestions. In the drive home, three of us gamers figured the only way to "fix" this problem is for the PLAYERS to enforce it. Don't play with the Cheat.


IMO, audits are a royal pain and should be used only if a character shows discrepancies that the player cannot answer for. As a GM I would only do it if I suspected something and as a player I hate waiting around for it to be done to others' PCs.

As a GM, I expect the players to handle their PCs and I handle the event. If there is a question, I will simply ask "tell me how that works" or "tell me what that does." If needed, other players at the table chime in to help and the situation is almost always resolved on the spot.

The only excuse for auditing a PC at the *table* is if letting that PC continue detracts from the rest of the players' experience.

Take the PC's sheet and glance at it for 30 seconds per PC at the beginning of each slot. If something catches your eye, ask about it. The answer should tell you if you need to audit the PC.

When I am asked, I hand the GM my netbook or tablet with herolab on it, where it is immediately recognizable if there are any errors.

That said, there are many reasons why a player cannot answer a question immediately -- for example, not having played that particular PC in over a year and not expecting to play it at that table, but making a last minute change for the sake of the table.

IIRC one of the reasons we now have 3 game slots instead of four at most con days, is because of the need for a bit of extra time for record keeping. If auditing is to happen, I say only between slots unless not doing so would ruin the game.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

I can agree that audits should occur more frequently and under better conditions than during the game. However, IMO this has to happen at the local level. Conventions are not conducive.

First of all, the GM's do not have the time. Outside of actually running the game, which by the way is increasingly taking more than the four hours normally allotted, they have to set up, tear down, and still get their lunch. Adding the responsibility of doing anything other than the occasional impromptu audit at the table will be a fail.

The idea of having dedicated auditors is, at best, wishful thinking. Most conventions struggle to get enough GM's to cover all their offerings, not to mention there are no rewards for it. You are asking someone to donate a slot (4-5 hours) worth of time to reviewing the nuances of someone else's character. This will not be a consistent win.

Advanced submission of characters is not effective either. There are too many reasons, that start with, many players just don't preregister. Also, many who do sign up early have multiple characters that could be used depending on the table mix/APL. If you add in that many conventions offer the same scenario more than once in a slot and you don't know who is getting which GM. Large conventions like GenCon and this becomes even more challenging. There is also the players that do not use a digital character sheet and therefore, cannot submit it. So it would hav to be a voluntary submission. If you are a cheater, you're either not going to submit or you will submit a different version fro review and swap at game time. Cheaters are gonna find a way to cheat.

Character audits should occur at the local level where you theoretically have the time to do so. Not necessarily at the table, but I have asked for a character to take home with me to review. If your FLGS has a copier, use it and audit at your leisure. If you arrive early for a session, audit characters as they arrive prior to the start of the session.

In my experience, the vast majority of errors are not due to cheating, i.e. knowingly/intentionally manipulating the numbers. The game can be very complicated depending on the build and anyone can make an error. Even Venture-Officers are not immune to character sheet errors. The best thing to do is find someone knowledgeable in your local group and ask them to review it for errors. Most of our players are capable. You could do the same for them in return.

At the table, if something comes up, the GM should not automatically assume that the player is cheating, and the player should not automatically assume the GM is accusing them of same.

LET'S PLAY!

Grand Lodge 5/5

nosig wrote:

I played last night at a table with the local Cheat.

[snip - lots of stuff]

Would anything we are suggesting here fix the Cheat? I really don't think so. But heck - I've been wrong before, and I'd love to hear some suggestions. In the drive home, three of us gamers figured the only way to "fix" this problem is for the PLAYERS to enforce it. Don't play with the Cheat.

We are a community. Reading nosigs post makes me sad. We only 'fix' this problem we as a community pull into the same direction.

If a player is behaving like above he should expect he needs to clear up his act and ensures he comes up with a legitimate character next. For this to happen audits need to be acceptable by the community and must be seen as something positive.

If we shy away from them, then it makes it even more difficult for the GM. Not only is it additional work - you also target a player if you do them.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Bob Jonquet wrote:
If your FLGS has a copier, use it and audit at your leisure.

Bob

Sorry for just taking a single sentence out of context:

Yes - a photocopier at a big convention would be a great addition. It allows to look at a character after a CON. You often have new all-in-one printers. Why not use them to copy the most problematic characters. For example one like nosig describes.

But I bring this up here as I don't like to be seen as the GM who is a zealot and goes after players. I think I'm the opposite - but there is only as much as I'm willing to accept at a table. Once 'errors' get too big we have to ensure they get fixed and don't spoil it for other players.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

Bob Jonquet wrote:

Character audits should occur at the local level where you theoretically have the time to do so. Not necessarily at the table, but I have asked for a character to take home with me to review. If your FLGS has a copier, use it and audit at your leisure. If you arrive early for a session, audit characters as they arrive prior to the start of the session.

This is the proper attitude to have about audits IMO. If we can take care of it at the local level it won't be such a burden at the con level.

Bob Jonquet wrote:

LET'S PLAY!

This!

nosig wrote:
Stuff about cheaters

Hearing this bums me out. I can't fathom why people would cheat in a basically honor based game system. Players trust the GM to be fair, and the GM trusts the players not to lie about dice rolls etc. I don't think that character audits could eliminate people like this that want to bend the rules, but if everyone - players included - keeps an eye out for cheating, it will make it harder for games like yours to happen.


I should add that in HeroLab the GM can look at the gold total of all equipment right at the top of the screen, in addition to looking for the red and gold exclamation point at the top or description of errors at the bottom of the screen. This step, plus clicking on the "adjustments" tab (to make sure there haven't been a bunch of custom adjustments added to make it seem legal on the front page) would ensure that in 10-15 seconds a GM can know if a PC is within normal guidelines.

If TPTB could publish an "expected" gold range for PCs of every level (if it hasn't been done somewhere already), then seeing gold totals outside that range would be an immediate red flag, in addition to the *actual* red flag HeroLab uses for character discrepancies.

I know this sounds like an ad for the software, but if everyone used it (you're buying books anyway, which are more expensive than the software) we could handle auditing in seconds. Anyone going to Gen Con or any of the larger cons shells out more than the cost of the software, including all expansions, in just one weekend trip.

All feat descriptions and items grant descriptions upon a single click, so there is no problem with ambiguity.

Maybe Lone Wolf techs could have a printable character sheet in the software with a stamp on the page denoting status as within expected parameters or something. Given cooperation with Paizo this seems like it would be an easy addition. If the stamp appears on your printed character sheet, the only ambiguity could be in item access.

Just a thought.


Bob Jonquet wrote:
Advanced submission of characters is not effective either. There are too many reasons, that start with, many players just don't preregister. Also, many who do sign up early have multiple characters that could be used depending on the table mix/APL. If you add in that many conventions offer the same scenario more than once in a slot and you don't know who is getting which GM.

It depends on how you set things up.

I've done cons that have been pre-mustered with judges assigned. If you are mustering at the spot then you've got bigger issues when a table doesn't fit well based on levels involved, etc.

Likewise it's not just a case of making a human look at it, but getting the player to enter it into a database then letting a computer scan over things. You could have a place where total wealth is calculated, etc.

Most of this is already done by character sheet programs.

-James

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

duhtroll wrote:
I should add that in HeroLab the GM can look at the gold total of all equipment right at the top of the screen, in addition to looking for the red and gold exclamation point at the top or description of errors at the bottom of the screen. This step, plus clicking on the "adjustments" tab (to make sure there haven't been a bunch of custom adjustments added to make it seem legal on the front page) would ensure that in 10-15 seconds a GM can know if a PC is within normal guidelines.

I like the idea, but HeroLab can be set up to let you break the rules. You can select the option to use PFS rules as a baseline, but allow you to select banned items. You can turn the warnings off so they don't print on the sheets. And for the wealth, it get's skewed when you spend prestige for items. For every character I have their gear value exceeds their gp awards because I have spend PP on things like wands of CLW, etc. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that it's more complicated.


PP could be included for purchases, as could the cost tables, since PA awards are already included.

If the aforementioned certification or stamp were on the sheet, it would indicate that no custom rule sets were being used and no banned items are selected.

Lone Wolf does such a good job configuring the program it would seem this could be done without too much hassle.

EDIT: Of course if one were to hack the software to cheat, they are going well beyond what a "normal" cheater does, but I see that as being extremely rare.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

james maissen wrote:
I've done cons that have been pre-mustered with judges assigned. If you are mustering at the spot then you've got bigger issues when a table doesn't fit well based on levels involved, etc.

Unless you are on the convention staff, PFS organizers don't necessarily control this. Whatever system the convention uses to preregister may not support such a program. Very few of the conventions I have attended pre-muster the players to the tables unless it is the only one offered for a particular scenario and they have encountered just as many problems with party mix and APL matching.

james maissen wrote:
Likewise it's not just a case of making a human look at it, but getting the player to enter it into a database then letting a computer scan over things. You could have a place where total wealth is calculated, etc.

Good luck. I have attended roughly 15 conventions in the past year and a half, all as a GM, and some as the organizer. In my experience, you're lucky if you can get players to identify which character they are playing let alone enter additional details. Most of the problems that occur are not something that is easily checked by a simple spreadsheet. The rules are complex and varied with varied stackable modifiers and I doubt anything short of a human auditor is going to be successful.

james maissen wrote:
Most of this is already done by character sheet programs.

Believe it or not, for every player that uses a digital character sheet, there is one that doesn't. I am not familiar with PCGen or other systems, but HeroLab, while a great system, has settings that let you ignore errors. I can easily create a PFS character that with a cursory view would appear legal, but there wouldn't be any obvious indications it wasn't.

We have to ask ourselves what is the point. Are you trying to catch cheaters? We do not benefit from an intensive process to try and catch the 0.01% of players who are cheaters. If we are just trying to help players build legal characters and catch errors, then there are better ways than to add to an already stressful convention environment with extremely limited time frames.

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