Policing the Core Assumption


Pathfinder Society

Contributor

The short version of what follows is: "Man, I'm a wuss--I really don't wanna."

The long version is that I am a "content creator" by profession and, after much reflection and study, a copyright traditionalist by inclination. The document that makes our games--our fun--possible, is Version 4.2 of the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play and it says this on page 5 of that document:

"Pathfinder Society Organized Play assumes that every player has the following resources.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
• Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Pathfinder Society Field Guide
• Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play
(this document)"

It goes on to say that GMs should have a physical copy of the Bestiary and "access to" all of the hardcover books in the line.

I recently played my very first PFS game as a judge and it went off gangbusters if I do say so myself. Locals meet up at the game shop on Tuesday nights and this was my second time playing with this particular bunch of people. I made sure to bring my CRB and a printed out copy of the Guide to Organized Play and even though I own a .pdf of the Bestiary (I own a LOT of .pdfs), I showed up early and bought a hard copy of it before the game, both because I like to buy something whenever I play at a shop and because I wanted to meet the letter of the rule. I'm on the lawful axis.

Like I said, everything went pretty well. We finished a little early, and I did kind of an after-action information gathering session, asking what I could have done better, filling in details of the backstory of the scenario that didn't quite come out in roleplay, stuff like that. And one of the things I brought up was the Core Assumption, reminding everybody that we should support the game (and the shop) by meeting its minimums.

This went over okay with everybody except one guy who uses the HeroLab program to create his characters. He said, I'm quoting from memory here, "Why should I buy the books when all the info is online or in HeroLab?"

I wanted to answer, "So as to not be a jackass," but what I did answer was something like "To have some skin in the game, to play by the rules, and to support the creators of the game that's giving us a good time." I also pointed out that the .pdfs are only ten bucks for the CRB and less than fifteen for the Field Guide, which totaled out to probably less than he'd paid for his HeroLab modules, and his reply was that Paizo gets licensing fees from whoever makes HeroLab so it all comes out in the wash.

I don't want to really get into my reasons for thinking that's wrongheaded and selfish, I don't even really want to get into my philosophical ideas about character design and the differences between coming up with a concept and then diving into the books (or files) to find a way to make it real versus choosing a bunch of options from drop-down menus. I just want the people I play with to meet the Core Assumption, for, yes, mostly personal reasons.

But here's the thing. I'm the new guy. This was my second week there, first time (ever) as a GM. I'm not sure I have the standing to call people out on stuff like this.

Heck, if you can't afford the .pdfs and want to play at a table I'm at, I'll buy them for you. But if you just won't buy the books or .pdfs for some other reason, I'm not sure what to do with you. But I'm not sure that I'm in a place to police you on it either.

Anyway, that's what I'm thinking about tonight. Any thoughts and suggestions are more than welcome.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

I don't think a physical copy of the bestiary is all that necessary when everyone has ipads and tablets these days. I mean paizo gets its 10 bucks and I have all the info I need whether It gets 30 for the book and pays the printer 20 or i just hand then 10 to inconvenience some electrons.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

The wording in the Guide 4.3 will remove "physical" since many GMs do use the PDF on a tablet or some such, including yours truly.

BTW, Chris, I enjoyed Sandstorm. Great job with it.


Pretty sure "assumes all players owns" means we don't have to police it. This stands in contrast to the necessity of having legal copies of additional materials if you wish to use them for your character.

Contributor

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
I don't think a physical copy of the bestiary is all that necessary when everyone has ipads and tablets these days. I mean paizo gets its 10 bucks and I have all the info I need whether It gets 30 for the book and pays the printer 10 or i just hand then 10 to inconvenience some electrons.

Wow, that went south quick.

You're not "inconveniencing a few electrons," you're entering into a lawful transaction, trading money for intellectual property--intellectual property worth a sight more than ten bucks in my opinion, but hey, it's working for them.

I don't want to derail my own thread, though.

Contributor

Michael Brock wrote:

The wording in the Guide 4.3 will remove "physical" since many GMs do use the PDF on a tablet or some such, including yours truly.

BTW, Chris, I enjoyed Sandstorm. Great job with it.

Thanks so much. For both those things!


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Also, I'm pretty sure the decision to say that GMs need to have "access to" the hardcover books is very specifically worded to mean that GMs can use the PRD for non-core stuff. God knows getting players to GM is hard enough without asking them to buy in for a bunch of books they might not already own.

Edit: Also also, if you buy books for your players, I want to play at your table. Shall I submit a wishlist? :D

Scarab Sages

Nope. If he purchased the license to Pathfinder material through Hero Labs he paid his money and Paizo got some of it! That satisfies the "pay to play" thing you've got going. (And don't assume it's all that cheap. They get a decent cut.) I fully understand your urge to support the system and the vendor. But just because I can afford both Hero Lab licenses and the books doesn't mean I feel the next guy has to. I bought the books with almost the same sense of reverential respect that you seem to have for the vendor and the game. And I'll loan my books to anyone who needs one at a session. You're right. You don't have to police it. And I think everyone appreciates that.

Lantern Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Asia-Pacific aka DarkWhite

You don't have to police it - a GM has enough on his plate organsing a gameday, preparing the scenario, and managing the players at the table, it's not something you have to check before the start of each session, you should be able to quickly get the game started assuming players have the required material with them to play their character.

However, you are within your rights to police it, and should probably make players aware of the requirement. Certainly if it comes to your attention that someone is playing without the required materials, you have a responsibility as a PFS GM to bring it to their attention. Other players at the table who have purchased the required books (in pdf or book form) may not appreciate that others are getting a free ride.

Having a Herolab printout, or even Herolab running on a laptop, isn't the same as having the PDF or physical book, if there's a rules dispute about something on the character sheet, or how an ability works, you'll need access to the original source material, eg the full book.

Shadow Lodge

Stephen White wrote:
Having a Herolab printout isn't the same as having the PDF or physical book, if there's a rules dispute about something on the character sheet, you'll need access to the full book.

Or the relevant pages printed out from the PDF.

Regardless of what is on your Hero Lab print out I won't be accepting it as a substitution for a book or PDF unless the ruling in the guide changes to allow it. I'm fine with people using Hero Lab print outs, I do it often myself for spell descriptions, but I still bring my book/relevant page print outs and would expect other players to do the same.

Lone Wolf Development

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My understanding is that you're supposed to have access to the actual rulebook (PDF version is fine, per Mike above). If a question arises and you don't have the rulebook for whatever mechanism is under scrutiny, then the GM is fully within his rights to declare the mechanism as non-applicable to the situation. Essentially, if you don't have the rulebook, you don't get to use the feat, ability, item, whatever.

Hero Lab is not perfect, although we're continuously working towards that goal. And Hero Lab is definitely not the final arbiter on any rules question. That's what the rulebook is for - along with the FAQ.

And, yes, this is coming from the guys who create Hero Lab. :)

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Agent, Colorado—Colorado Springs aka Dust Raven

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The need to own the books you use the build your character has nothing to do with pay to play or funneling money to Paizo. It's about proof the rule the player is using is being used correctly and is allowed as presented per the Additional Resources. It may be assumed the GM has access to a small list of books, but if you have something on your character sheet that's not in one of those books, it's the player's responsibility to have purchased a copy of that book and bring it to the table to show the GM.

As far as policing this, I'm very flexible. I have just about everything every published by paizo on pdf (falling behind on the newer books and still need ARG, UE and NPC Codex). If a player can quote me the book and page number the rules for his whatever is from, I'm satisfied as I can verify it. If they don't, it's not my responsibility to find out for them.

By all means though, buy more books and support the people who makes this game possible. And buy the physical books from your FLGS; spread that support to your local community too.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

Wayne Clemmer wrote:
Nope. If he purchased the license to Pathfinder material through Hero Labs he paid his money and Paizo got some of it! That satisfies the "pay to play" thing you've got going. (And don't assume it's all that cheap. They get a decent cut.) I fully understand your urge to support the system and the vendor. But just because I can afford both Hero Lab licenses and the books doesn't mean I feel the next guy has to.

Owning Hero Lab doesn't count as owning an authoritative copy of the rules for reference. While it is a wonderful product, and tracks new rulebooks pretty darn quickly for a third-party product, there will always be discrepancies. Rob and his gang of squirrels are pretty good at fixing bugs as they are brought to their attention (although my Kitsune is still getting flagged as not legal for PFS :-), but the only definitive source for rules is the hard copy rulebook (or the PDF of same) with current errata applied, supplemented by the "Additional Resources" list (and the FAQs and postings on the Paizo messageboard).

When the "Additional Resources" file says that the feats on pages xxx-yyy of rulebook zzzz are allowed for PFS play, you need the actual rulebook to know what these feats are (and, just as importantly, what additional feats on other pages are not allowed).

If you want to buy HeroLab, that's fine. But if you can only afford either HeroLab or the PDFs of the rulebook, you should buy the books.

Lantern Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Asia-Pacific aka DarkWhite

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We've run the Ruby Phoenix Tournament PFS sacntioned module for 11th-level characters three times now, and each time My VL RyanK required a character audit before confirming a player's registration to the table. In almost every case, those who built their characters in Herolab were built correctly, while those who built their characters by hand were riddled with errors and incorrect rules assumptions.

Based on this experience, I wholeheartedly recommend Herolab to all Pathfinder players.

However, when a player needs to provide his character build to the GM at the table, for a full understanding of the rules in question, the original source is required.

Silver Crusade

My big issue right now is honestly 2 fold. One, just getting into pathfinder, I do want to use a gunslinger, oracle, or summoner, but I'm not going to buy it at whatever first couple of sessions, so physical books are out, but soon I'll start buying the physical. I'm also having a hard time convincing my wife that I need a game rule book for $50. Don't get my wrong, I am indeed planning on buying the books soon. I do want to support paizo and my local game shops.

That second part I do indeed do, but this is also part of the other problem I'm having right now. This is really more of a hand build sort of issue. Yeah, hero labs will tell you if you are 100% legal and it's a great resource, but I feel that there is a need to be able to create the same character by hand and by hero labs. It's good to have the flag pop up, saying, hey, this character is illegal, but in the end, I also really want to know WHY.

The core of the problem though is that I do play a couple of D20 system games, and while close, there are minor differences between PF, and the big one, and few other generic D20 system, that do throw me off. I was DMing another game too, and I threw in a character that was built mostly off of pathfinder stuff, because it was pathfinder stuff I knew off the top of my head, and thought it was actually the same in both systems, one of my non-pathfinder players called me on using that "crazy pathfinder stuff". Ultimately what I'm saying here, is that, yeah, you can memorize a bunch of rules, but there are other things that can muddy the water. Also, being in a transitional phase, or playing 2 games at the same time, I do want to confirm that the rules are or are not different before I start spouting stuff. Especially if one build is so much better in one game or another.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Unfortunately, this is something that we're going to have to deal with when it comes to gamers.

Let's face it, gamers are cheap (and in some cases broke). If information can be acquired at no-cost, gamers will acquire it at no cost.

Paizo knew what they signed up for. There's no reason to make a fuss over something that I'm certain they paid some market analyst a pile of cash to figure it out for them.

Lantern Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Asia-Pacific aka DarkWhite

Crit wrote:
My big issue right now is honestly 2 fold. One, just getting into pathfinder, I do want to use a gunslinger, oracle, or summoner, but I'm not going to buy it at whatever first couple of sessions, so physical books are out, but soon I'll start buying the physical.

PFS gives new players an opportunity to try the game in store, learn the rules, have some fun, in fact that's what the pregens are for. Playing a gunslinger, oracle or summoner require two books, Core Rulebook and APG (or Ultimate Combat), but you can build a satisfying character using the Core Rulebook alone, that's a player's choice to make, depending on the sourcebooks he has available. I wouldn't necessarily expect a new player to have purchased all the books they need before their first game, but certainly by second-level a player has had a feel for the game and demonstrated his intention to continue.

Feral wrote:
Let's face it, gamers are cheap (and in some cases broke). If information can be acquired at no-cost, gamers will acquire it at no cost.

The PRD is a great reference for GMs preparing scenarios, Adventure Paths played at home, quoting rules to respond to messageboard questions in the office while on lunch-break, and many other situations. But if playing public PFS sessions, you'll need the sourcebooks or PDFs with you at the table.

Feral wrote:
Paizo knew what they signed up for.

If they read the Guide to Organised Play, then players know what they signed up for too.

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

Also, if you can't justify $50 for the book, can you justify $10? The PDFS are very useful - I greatly prefer having all of my books in PDF on my tablet rather than having to lug around 6 different rulebooks to every game day. Also, for the price of one rulebook, you can buy 4 PDFs.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

It's probably not worth anybody's effort to try and police the Core Assumption, since that's what players are NOT required to bring with them; they could always just say "I have it at home", and your investigation is at an end. :/

Now, when it comes to Additional Resources...

Sovereign Court Venture-Captain, New Mexico—Roswell aka Rob Duncan

I bought <recent sandbox RPG with dragons in it> for about $60 for my <gaming console with green lights on it>. The game included all the rulesets and everything I needed to play the game.

I got my Core Rulebook for about $32 on Amazon. I got my Field Guide for about $12 on Amazon. The Guide to Organized play can be printed and bound at your local FedEx Kinko's for about $6.

PFS Core Assumption < Video Game With Dragons

I have a few sets of this when I run cons. Batteries die. Internet connections are lost. If you're a n00b and didn't bring your own 3G card and charger, you can borrow my books. If you're new and running First Steps or CoE with me, I have you covered.. ^_^

If you show up with a Chronicle Sheet, you've been around the block. Please buy the books. Or buy the PDFs. It's relatively inexpensive compared to the value of play you get out of it. (especially in PDF on a tablet or laptop)

This may be mean, but I seat people with Core Assumption first at my tables. If you have the books or the PDFs to meet the Core Assumption, you get a spot to play. If you don't have them, but you have your tablet or laptop, it's easy to get them on there with the wonders of the interweb and plastic.

Following the rules has its rewards!

Silver Crusade

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Okay then, bought my core rulebook today.

Lantern Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Asia-Pacific aka DarkWhite

Crit wrote:
Okay then, bought my core rulebook today.

Good move :-) You won't regret it - the Core is what everything else is based on, and you can go in any direction from there.

For the record, I think the Beginner Box also makes a great entry point to Pathfinder for new players. Although not specifically mentioned in the Guide to Organised Play as a Core Assumption or the Additional Resources page, the free PDF Beginner Box PFS Character Creation Guide basically permits Heroes Handbook characters built with 20-point-buy to play PFS as legal characters. The only caveat being you can only advance your character to 5th level using the Beginner Box rules, before needing the Core Rulebook, but you can worry about that when you get there.

Just thought I'd mention it as another option.

Sovereign Court

I like to travel light and I don't have a tablet to display pdfs on. I do have an iphone with a direct link to the PRD and d20pfsrd.com. Is it sufficient to just print out the title page of the pdf where you can see my name and watermark? Better to only lug a couple pieces of paper than the huge binders I see some people bring with all of their rules options.

The Exchange

The biggest problem with the paper books, is that they are not necessarily accurate as corrections are made to earlier editions.

You need to double check the latest errata when building your character or running an adventure and getting monster stats.

The Exchange

As for your core question:

It goes on to say that GMs should have a physical copy of the Bestiary and "access to" all of the hardcover books in the line.

<SNIP>

This went over okay with everybody except one guy who uses the HeroLab program to create his characters. He said, I'm quoting from memory here, "Why should I buy the books when all the info is online or in HeroLab?"

Has Paizo ever clarified this question?

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Sidney Kuhn wrote:

As for your core question:

It goes on to say that GMs should have a physical copy of the Bestiary and "access to" all of the hardcover books in the line.

<SNIP>

This went over okay with everybody except one guy who uses the HeroLab program to create his characters. He said, I'm quoting from memory here, "Why should I buy the books when all the info is online or in HeroLab?"

Has Paizo ever clarified this question?

They don't need to clarify it.

The rule is quite specific. You need to have the PDF or Book to access anything not of the core assumption.

Hero Lab or the PRD are not considered owning the source.

Contributor

Andrew Christian wrote:

The rule is quite specific. You need to have the PDF or Book to access anything not of the core assumption.

Hero Lab or the PRD are not considered owning the source.

Exactly. There's nothing unclear or hard to understand about any of this as far as I'm concerned. If you want to play Pathfinder Society games, then buy the texts you're using, either in hard copy or as .pdfs (or both).

Me? I think you should go even farther and actually read them.


Christopher Rowe wrote:
Exactly. There's nothing unclear or hard to understand about any of this as far as I'm concerned. If you want to play Pathfinder Society games, then buy the texts you're using, either in hard copy or as .pdfs (or both).

Right, but the core assumption is the core assumption. So it doesn't need to be policed.

This is important because if someone simply cannot afford the core book, and yes, there are people out there in this economy, it's still okay for them to play PFS. They just have to use a core-only character, because unlike everything else, ownership of core materials doesn't need to be demonstrated prior to use.

Liberty's Edge

RtrnofdMax wrote:
I like to travel light and I don't have a tablet to display pdfs on. I do have an iphone with a direct link to the PRD and d20pfsrd.com. Is it sufficient to just print out the title page of the pdf where you can see my name and watermark? Better to only lug a couple pieces of paper than the huge binders I see some people bring with all of their rules options.

According to the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play:

Quote:
In order to utilize content from an Additional Resource, a player must have a physical copy of the Additional Resource in question, a name- watermarked Paizo PDF of it, or a printout of the relevant pages from it, as well as a copy of the current version of the Additional Resources list. It is considered courteous to inform the Game Master that you plan to use Additional Resource material before play begins, so he has a chance to familiarize himself with the new material.

By the official rules, you need to have either the appropriate pages printed out or some other way to show your GM the entire actual PDF. Even very experienced GMs are not familiar with all of the Additional Resources; I myself don't own all of the Adventure Path books or softcover books.

It's also a good idea to talk to your GM before the game if you have anything unusual, as otherwise play will get interrupted by rules discussions.

The Exchange

WOW! I missed the requirement to have my hard copy of the book with me.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Sidney, old pal, did you stop reading too soon?

Either the physical book, or pages printed from your copy of the PDF. You don't have to bring a hard copy of the book.

The exception is the Bestiary for GMs. And Mike's looking to ammend that. For the time being, though, you do need to bring an actual Bestiary to any table you GM.

3/5

Christopher Rowe wrote:
Me? I think you should go even farther and actually read them.

Now that's just crazy talk... You and your reading

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Patrick Harris @ SD wrote:
Christopher Rowe wrote:
Exactly. There's nothing unclear or hard to understand about any of this as far as I'm concerned. If you want to play Pathfinder Society games, then buy the texts you're using, either in hard copy or as .pdfs (or both).

Right, but the core assumption is the core assumption. So it doesn't need to be policed.

This is important because if someone simply cannot afford the core book, and yes, there are people out there in this economy, it's still okay for them to play PFS. They just have to use a core-only character, because unlike everything else, ownership of core materials doesn't need to be demonstrated prior to use.

It is very, very poor form to play a game and expecting everyone else to have the information for you.

The PDF of the Core Book is quite cheap in comparison.

If you are so poor you can't shell out $50 for the hard back, or $10 for the PDF (especially this), then you are are probably also too poor to have a tablet or smart phone to be able to access the PRD. I'm not trying to be elitist here. I've been poor, barely able to scrape $5 for a week of food together before. It sucks. But then I didn't mooch off everyone elses materials either at the time.

It is incredibly poor form to show up to a game day, with zero materials, and then expect everyone else to let you borrow their book. Very poor form.


Andrew Christian wrote:

I'm not trying to be elitist here. I've been poor, barely able to scrape $5 for a week of food together before. It sucks. But then I didn't mooch off everyone elses materials either at the time.

It is incredibly poor form to show up to a game day, with zero materials, and then expect everyone else to let you borrow their book. Very poor form.

You say you're not trying to be elitist, but you're also saying that anyone who can't afford the book shouldn't play. I can't agree with either, under the circumstances.


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I think it's extremely situational and arguing about the hypotheticals of what could/would/should happen is kind of counterproductive personally.

No matter what kind of stance we take on the boards (where it's easy to be all hardnosed and a$$hatery) we handle things differently in person and in the situation... you make the judgement call that is right for right then.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

Removed several posts that add nothing to the conversation and are just arguing between two posters. Take it to PM if you want to continue. We don't want that in the public forum.

Dark Archive 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Midwest

Enough of the back and forth. The rules are clear, you have to have the physical book or a pdf of any book you use to build your character.

"Pathfinder Society Organized Play assumes that every player has the following resources.
• Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
• Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Pathfinder Society Field Guide
• Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play"

It doesn't state "has access to" it states "has", therefore you have to own these three resources.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

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Todd said it very well. Topic is now locked. Time to move on.

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