Where is the Balance? Where is the fun?


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Rogue Eidolon wrote:


I'm in agreement here, with the caveat that the character in question isn't like a 10 Con d6 hit dice type who put favored class bonus into skill points. Tier 1-2 opponents really shouldn't be able to do more than 20 damage in a blow without critting, and players should make level 1 characters who can be alive at the end of taking 19 damage from full health. Multiple hits that tally up to more than that are fair game, though, in my opinion, even though unfortunately sometimes that can lead to bad parity. If you're particularly squishy and the enemy is a big damage dealer on a full attack, keep them at a distance, using withdraw action if necessary.

Level 1 character able to take 19 points from standing. I think 1 out of 10 or so of mine pass that test...

Completely agree about multiple hits are fair game.

The secondary issue with the d8+8 type of attack isn't really for the characters that get knocked over in one hit, its the ones that survive (on 1-2 HP) then get killed in the next blow... (this issue reappears at higher level too)


Funky Badger wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:


I'm in agreement here, with the caveat that the character in question isn't like a 10 Con d6 hit dice type who put favored class bonus into skill points. Tier 1-2 opponents really shouldn't be able to do more than 20 damage in a blow without critting, and players should make level 1 characters who can be alive at the end of taking 19 damage from full health. Multiple hits that tally up to more than that are fair game, though, in my opinion, even though unfortunately sometimes that can lead to bad parity. If you're particularly squishy and the enemy is a big damage dealer on a full attack, keep them at a distance, using withdraw action if necessary.

Level 1 character able to take 19 points from standing. I think 1 out of 10 or so of mine pass that test...

That's "can be alive at the end of taking 19 damage from full health", not has 19 hp. CON + hp > 19. That should be trivial for any class with more than a d6 and easy for them. Don't sell down CON and you've pretty much got it. With a d6, take a 12 CON and put the favored class bonus in hp: 6 + 1 + 1 = 8 hp and dead at -12.


thejeff wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:


I'm in agreement here, with the caveat that the character in question isn't like a 10 Con d6 hit dice type who put favored class bonus into skill points. Tier 1-2 opponents really shouldn't be able to do more than 20 damage in a blow without critting, and players should make level 1 characters who can be alive at the end of taking 19 damage from full health. Multiple hits that tally up to more than that are fair game, though, in my opinion, even though unfortunately sometimes that can lead to bad parity. If you're particularly squishy and the enemy is a big damage dealer on a full attack, keep them at a distance, using withdraw action if necessary.

Level 1 character able to take 19 points from standing. I think 1 out of 10 or so of mine pass that test...

That's "can be alive at the end of taking 19 damage from full health", not has 19 hp. CON + hp > 19. That should be trivial for any class with more than a d6 and easy for them. Don't sell down CON and you've pretty much got it. With a d6, take a 12 CON and put the favored class bonus in hp: 6 + 1 + 1 = 8 hp and dead at -12.

Yes I know, and my count remains the same. 1 out of 10 or so characters pass that test.


As a gm, IF I edit it is adding 3 hp to NPCs, or +1 to attack. The encounters are generally not tough enough. This makes effectively 1 attack more getting through. Also, if the PCs are having a tough time spread out the damage. Everyone should get attacked at least once in every scenario. Most of the scenarios I have played the NPCs do not fight to the death. I think that if the encounters are too tough that is a result of bad GMing

I agree that the plot leaves something to be desired, but I think that most of this is the nature of the demon for non-modules. In Cincinnati, the events hop all over the scenarios, society members are not always current.

For the record, Crits are the only thing that should 1 hit kill, and NPCs don't have to finish off an unconscious PC. 1 hit drops are the name of the game. If they have a 1d8+8 and you think you are going to have to worry about a TPK take 2 off attack, it does wonders for letting tanks survive to run away. If they don't run when they should KILL THEM


I think the balance comes in with having a GM that is prepared to run the scenario. The fact of the matter is, later season 3 and season 4 simply take longer than 30 minutes to prep.

There are monster spell lists (by monster I mean HUGE), and all from different sources. There are tons of unstated monsters with templates (my personal pet peeve), and in the case of the more roleplay heavy ones; tons of NPC information that you have to know. Running one of these scenarios cold just lends itself to everyone being frustrated with the game.

The fun comes from the same thing, if the GM has time to prep the scenario and can add it bits and pieces from the intro, etc., then there is more immersion for the players and everyone has fun.

As GMs we shouldn't have to feel that we have to change stat information in order to make the game more challenging or more funner than it was originally written (caveat being a couple first drafts that got published).

Simply put, for me at least, is prep on the scenario to provide the best possible experience for all involved. A GM that doesn't take the time to prep isn't one I want to play under. A GM that can't take the time, I feel sorry for and try not to put them or I into that situation.

5/5

Funky Badger wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:


I'm in agreement here, with the caveat that the character in question isn't like a 10 Con d6 hit dice type who put favored class bonus into skill points. Tier 1-2 opponents really shouldn't be able to do more than 20 damage in a blow without critting, and players should make level 1 characters who can be alive at the end of taking 19 damage from full health. Multiple hits that tally up to more than that are fair game, though, in my opinion, even though unfortunately sometimes that can lead to bad parity. If you're particularly squishy and the enemy is a big damage dealer on a full attack, keep them at a distance, using withdraw action if necessary.

Level 1 character able to take 19 points from standing. I think 1 out of 10 or so of mine pass that test...

That's "can be alive at the end of taking 19 damage from full health", not has 19 hp. CON + hp > 19. That should be trivial for any class with more than a d6 and easy for them. Don't sell down CON and you've pretty much got it. With a d6, take a 12 CON and put the favored class bonus in hp: 6 + 1 + 1 = 8 hp and dead at -12.
Yes I know, and my count remains the same. 1 out of 10 or so characters pass that test.

Wowzers! Well if you dump Con, of course the scenarios are going to be deadly. I also have 10 PFS characters, and I believe 0 out of 10 could be killed that way at level 1. Let's see:

-1: 22 to kill at level 1 (I think she later took Toughness though)
-2: 27 to kill at level 1 (he's a fighter)
-3: 25 to kill at level 1
-4: 22 to kill at level 1 (she definitely took Toughness)
-5: 22 to kill at level 1 (he's an elf)
-6: 29 to kill at level 1 (he's a barbarian)
-7: 22/25 to kill at level 1 (can't remember his Con right now)
-8: 23 to kill at level 1 (and she's a wizard)
-9: 22 to kill at level 1 (kitsune sorceress, so no hp from favored class)
-10: probably 23 to kill (only has GM credit so far, so it could change)

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

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My first character, a sorcerer, started with 11 HP and 14 CON. I didn't think it was hard to find those 5 points to spare. Your casting stat REALLY doesn't need to be as high as a lot of people think it needs to be.

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

Oh, and Thod, could I get some clarification on something? You say that you ran Voice in the Void 7 times, and "[i]n all these games [you] killed one character." Is this 7 dead PCs or 1 dead PC? When I first read it, I thought it was 7, but on a reread, I think it's just 1.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

thecarrotman wrote:
As a gm, IF I edit it is adding 3 hp to NPCs, or +1 to attack.

You may not be aware, but mechanical modifications to encounters (such as changing hit points or attack mods) is strictly forbidden in organized play. The campaign coordinator has made his stance abundantly clear: do not do it.

If you feel you need to "adjust", then have a dangerous enemy fight defensively (-4 to hit), or move+attack instead of charging, etc. If you need to make it tougher, use tougher tactics: disarm or trip the PCs, take advantage of terrain, etc.

But do not, ever, change their actual stats.

Grand Lodge

Netopalis wrote:
Oh, and Thod, could I get some clarification on something? You say that you ran Voice in the Void 7 times, and "[i]n all these games [you] killed one character." Is this 7 dead PCs or 1 dead PC? When I first read it, I thought it was 7, but on a reread, I think it's just 1.

One total

And the player left shaking my hand and saying it was epic.

It took me five rounds with a monster that didn't survive a single combat round in half of the other games.

It was an epic kill and a combination of errors by players and ineptitude.

Epic Death:

I was eating his brains. Half the group knocked themselves out through non letal damage in a neighbouring room. The remaining parts of the group failed in an epic way.
Never had a player leaving the table before thanking me for a great roleplayed death.

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

Wait, THAT killed him? Egad...

I'd hate to see what would have happened to that party if they got up to the BBEG.

Grand Lodge

Netopalis wrote:

Wait, THAT killed him? Egad...

I'd hate to see what would have happened to that party if they got up to the BBEG.

They got to the BBEG. The death and delay ensured

Spoiler:
Mage armour expired = -4 AC

It was a group of 7 - so still 6 left facing the BBEG.

Might have been 3 left standing when they finished it. But no further death.

Edit: and at the same con I had later a group of 6 level 2/3 experienced players.
I pulled all the stops and played the BBEG as hard as possible.
It also ended with 3 characters down but not dead.
No fudged dice, no changes to monsters. Just a GM knowing the scenario and all options.

Silver Crusade

I believe that the deadliness of Balder's Gate, Icewind Dale, and the ADD 2nd Ed. gold box classics all put the deadliness of PFS modules shame. However, PNP games shouldn't be quite that lethal. On the other hand, my tabletop players have all played those games, and thus, overly lethal games are just part of the routine (thought, I did have a bit of a laugh the other day, when I hit the paladin with an anti paladin using smite good and an unholy weapon in a homebrewed campaign, good times).


Rogue Eidolon wrote:


Yes I know, and my count remains the same. 1 out of 10 or so characters pass that test.

Wowzers! Well if you dump Con, of course the scenarios are going to be deadly. I also have 10 PFS characters, and I believe 0 out of 10 could be killed that way at level 1. Let's see:

-1: 22 to kill at level 1 (I think she later took Toughness though)
-2: 27 to kill at level 1 (he's a fighter)
-3: 25 to kill at level 1
-4: 22 to kill at level 1 (she definitely took Toughness)
-5: 22 to kill at level 1 (he's an elf)
-6: 29 to kill at level 1 (he's a barbarian)
-7: 22/25 to kill at level 1 (can't remember his Con right now)
-8: 23 to kill at level 1 (and she's a wizard)
-9: 22 to kill at level 1 (kitsune sorceress, so no hp from favored class)
-10: probably 23 to kill (only has GM credit so far,...

Ranger, Monk, Summoner, Cleric, Inquisitor, Gunslinger (forgot about him), Bard, Fighter...

Actually I'm misremembering - the Ranger, Gunslinger, Bard and Fighter all pass the check, but only the Ranger, Bard and Fighter have CON bonuses (Fighter and Bard have got 12 CON, for the record, the Ranger has 16)

None of them took hitpoints at first...

1st level deaths = 0.

5/5

Funky Badger wrote:


1st level deaths = 0.

Yup, I'm not saying a 10 Con is a guaranteed death sentence (particularly if you get most of your level 1 credit from Tier 1 scenarios rather than 1-2, like me), just that I would say a 10 or lower Con character doesn't really have a right to complain about being one-shotted by a big bad at level 1. I know if I ever made a 10 Con character and didn't put the point into hit points, then I would be very cautious with him or her, and if I somehow did get into the fray, I wouldn't consider it unfair if I got one-shot killed.


Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:


1st level deaths = 0.

Yup, I'm not saying a 10 Con is a guaranteed death sentence (particularly if you get most of your level 1 credit from Tier 1 scenarios rather than 1-2, like me), just that I would say a 10 or lower Con character doesn't really have a right to complain about being one-shotted by a big bad at level 1. I know if I ever made a 10 Con character and didn't put the point into hit points, then I would be very cautious with him or her, and if I somehow did get into the fray, I wouldn't consider it unfair if I got one-shot killed.

I actually think that extra 1 or 2 HP is more likely to get you killed.

E.g. if I have 6 hp, the hypothetical d8+8 bad-guy could kills me 1 time out of 8, 7 times I'm down and bleeding.

If I've got 12 HP, say. Half the time he gets me down and bleeding, but the other half I'm on 0-3 HP waiting for the *next* d8+8 which is more likely to kill outright. Mmmm... statistics are week, but I think its works out at about 25% kill rate if both attacks hit...

Shadow Lodge

Drogon wrote:


S Creating a Tier 1-5 (sub-tiers 1, 2-3, 4-5) would be cool, but I think Paizo isn't in a position for a larger work load.

I think that would be an awesome idea. I personally find it rather weird that all the tiers essentially have a dead level in the middle (1-5 has 1-2 and 4-5, 5-9 has 5-6 and 8-9, 3-7 has 3-4 and 6-7, 7-11 has 7-8 and 10-11).

5/5

Funky Badger wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:


1st level deaths = 0.

Yup, I'm not saying a 10 Con is a guaranteed death sentence (particularly if you get most of your level 1 credit from Tier 1 scenarios rather than 1-2, like me), just that I would say a 10 or lower Con character doesn't really have a right to complain about being one-shotted by a big bad at level 1. I know if I ever made a 10 Con character and didn't put the point into hit points, then I would be very cautious with him or her, and if I somehow did get into the fray, I wouldn't consider it unfair if I got one-shot killed.

I actually think that extra 1 or 2 HP is more likely to get you killed.

E.g. if I have 6 hp, the hypothetical d8+8 bad-guy could kills me 1 time out of 8, 7 times I'm down and bleeding.

If I've got 12 HP, say. Half the time he gets me down and bleeding, but the other half I'm on 0-3 HP waiting for the *next* d8+8 which is more likely to kill outright. Mmmm... statistics are week, but I think its works out at about 25% kill rate if both attacks hit...

Let's see. So we're talking a d6 hit dice class. With 6 hit points (10 Con, no favored class), you've got it just right--1 in 8 to die, 7 in 8 to live (though sometimes you're going to bleed to death on your next turn). To have 12 hit points is pretty crazy--you'd need 20 Con and the favored class bonus. So half the time you're bleeding and have many rounds to live. The other half, as you say, you're between 0 and 3. You now could withdraw from combat, be healed, or something else. If not, then you take up to 16 more damage and are still alive regardless. More realistically you'd have 9 hit points and 14 Con. Then you have a 1 in 8 of being conscious at 0 (in which case you will die with a 3 in 8 chance if you don't withdraw, get healed, etc) and a 7 in 8 of being unconscious, but with plenty of hit points to go before death. Still better odds than the 6 hit points, even if you don't withdraw (and of course, more turns means time for your allies to help you or kill the monster, and it means fewer turns attacking the other PCs in any case).

Remember--every 2 Con gives only 1 hit point at level 1, but it gives you 3 hit points before you die.


Actually the second example was for a d10 class with 12 CON and favoured class HP...

Anything with 20 CON would be unkillable (one-shot) at first level...


And I'm not sure I've ever seen a withdraw... certainly not from a fightery type...

5/5

Funky Badger wrote:
And I'm not sure I've ever seen a withdraw... certainly not from a fightery type...

Over here it's used an awful lot, in just the situations you describe (low health against high-damage opponents and no healing in sight). This can keep melee enemies from hitting the weakened front-liners unless they are willing to take plenty of AoOs.

Grand Lodge

Firstly – I just have such a different experience with this than you, its hard for me to answer. I recently just started running for level 1's. There are five of them, 2 of them its their first Pathfinder game ever, the other three where experienced players. While they had a hard time starting off on 1-2's, only one player died once. Luckily there wasn't a huge level difference(none at the time) so it was easy to make a nice new character. He also happened to be one of the experienced players at the table, so I didn't pull punches.

I've killed five characters, and one was in Dalsine Affair, which is a killer anyway, and it was a one shotter on someone who was actually a level above the scenario recommendation.

The other three all happened at once. The party was all experienced players, and they made one of the worst decisions they could've made. It activated four separate encounters at one time. It ended up being one of the most epic battles I had ever ran as the two surving party members actually went on to beat the encounter (A CR 7/8, while they were both three). Now, if they weren't all experienced players, I would've pulled punches, but when a party who KNOWS BETTER makes terrible decisions I am relentless on them.

But it comes down to GMing as well. I can run on different difficulties. With my normal group online (there are about 10-15 of us who always play together) I run on hard difficulty. Even at hard difficulty they often smoke my baddies in a round or two. I use more advanced tactics, don't follow the "what the bad guys do" rules a lot of the time, and maybe even add a henchmen or two. I know what they can handle though.

When I GM at the local game store, I run on easy-moderate depending on my table. Enemies don't play as good at tactics, they follow whats written for the most part, and sometimes even do out right wrong tactical moves.

Its hard at the store sometimes, because often I(or the other) GM is running blind, so certain things get left out/moved around. I tend to be good at improving things in this situation, but some of the other GM's at my store are...lacking in that capacity. Honestly, with those guys I try to burn past the plot asap because they will never make it cognitive enough to be a good story anyway, so might as well grind it.

Secondly – I find the current season (4) to have the best plots and RP moments I've had in PFS. Now, they are tending to go longer (about an hour or two) as well, and if you don't have time I could see that being a problem. I'd say cut an encounter and get the RP back.

Thirdly – Faction missions piss me off sometimes. Especially when its one where the player is asking every 5 minutes "Is she wearing an amulet" or "does he have a tattoo on his face." It really starts to get annoying to me as a player and a GM, but I understand why they do it. All in all I think they make sense for the most part, I just wish they'd have less ambiguous faction missions that derail the game for 30 minutes of a four hour time block, particularly when its one the player must do alone. I feel faction missions add to Golarion immersion but take away from table RP. Most the interaction gameplay that happens at my tables are not faction related at all, and I love when we get the good elitism/racism/nationalism thing going at the table. WARNING: Mature RPers only!

Grand Lodge

Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:
And I'm not sure I've ever seen a withdraw... certainly not from a fightery type...
Over here it's used an awful lot, in just the situations you describe (low health against high-damage opponents and no healing in sight). This can keep melee enemies from hitting the weakened front-liners unless they are willing to take plenty of AoOs.

I withdraw. I also spend rounds setting up to take actions the next round, and use delays/readys for tactical reasons. I do notice many players fail to take advantage of these things.


Rogue Eidolon wrote:
Funky Badger wrote:
And I'm not sure I've ever seen a withdraw... certainly not from a fightery type...
Over here it's used an awful lot, in just the situations you describe (low health against high-damage opponents and no healing in sight). This can keep melee enemies from hitting the weakened front-liners unless they are willing to take plenty of AoOs.

Oh, definately can be the right thing to do... its just I can't remember it happening very often.

If anything, my experience of lower level play has been front-liners desperately staying in there (prone and healed an awful lot of the time) waiting for the rogue to get into position to murder the beast of the day...

Grand Lodge

Withdraw

Fight defensively

Play dead

All of this are options for players that help me as GM NOT to kill you. Not all of these are always applicable. But please - there are alternatives to hack.

Withdraw and regroup has the advantage to disrupt an enemies full attack. And it buys time for buffing / healing.


Just never go full defense.

Grand Lodge

I have always been perplexed by the uneven and often contradictory nature of PFS organized play.

How can a scenario be written to make both casual and hardcore players have fun? What about tactical players who have knowledge on (and use) combat maneuvers, delaying, etc. and players that are "there for the story" and not masters of the rules? Optimizers with their tweaked out character and someone playing an iconic pre-gen? In reality, you cant write a scenario to make everyone happy so someone is going to leave the table having not had fun. It does not help that the current replay rules punish players that are not successful during the scenario.

To GM correctly for PFS a lot of work is required. You have to be knowledgeable of several sources of information aside from just the rules of the game. You also have to prep each scenario you run which, depending on the GM and the scenario, can take hours. It seems a bit absurd to have to spend more time prepping a scenario than it will take to actually run it. Part of that is due to the incomplete nature of the scenarios themselves (missing stat blocks) and their content. I dont like seeing the same flip mat every time I go into a forest, but having a unique forest area in a scenario adds significant prep time (either at the table or before the session). So how do you keep areas in scenarios from getting stale but not adding undue prep time?

Despite all the prep time needed PFS encourages "anyone to be GM" and scenarios are often run blind at events with no prep time by a GM due to how PFS events get organized. The skills and competency of GMs vary, of course, but even the best of us would have a hard time running a scenario blind with no prep time. And if a scenario is not run properly players dont have fun and are less likely to return to the table next time. So how do you reconcile the "open" nature of PFS with the work associated to play in it?

PFS also has to cater to a variety of different clients. What you do to attract and retain hardcore gamers is different than what you do for new or casual players. Some people would argue that organized play is not for "casual" players but that is wrong, in my opinion. PFS and all the events associated with it are often how new players get introduced to Pathfinder (if you want to play Pathfinder at a convention, and often at you FLGS, its a PFS game). Maybe that is an error on Paizo's part. Maybe PFS is not how the game should be introduced to new players as it requires a severe dedication by a GM (prep time and rules knowledge) and by players (chronicle sheets, additional layers of rules). I think running the Beginners Box at the last Gen Con was a great move, but if players want to continue playing in public games at cons and stores they have to leap into PFS.

Maybe what is required is some streamlining of PFS and some honest clarification of who it is meant for. In my opinion the target audience of PFS should be knowledgeable, dedicated, hardcore players and GMs. Something else should be created and run at conventions, stores, etc. to allow more access for new and casual players. I honestly cannot recall how many times I have seen the eyes of a new player gloss over at a convention or a store when they come the realization of what it really takes to play in PFS.


Relmer wrote:
Something else should be created and run at conventions, stores, etc. to allow more access for new and casual players.

You mean like Beginner Box Bashes, The First Steps series, Quests, and the Kids Track program?


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A good GM can make ANY scenario match the style of game their players enjoy.

Grand Lodge

Kyle Baird wrote:
A good GM can make ANY scenario match the style of game their players enjoy.

While for the most part your right, I find most GM's, especially PFS GM's aren't good, or at least aren't that good. Some of us can adjust styles on the fly, other people can't.

Don't get me wrong, I have some really good ones, but I have some really poor ones in my local area and online.

And then there is dealing with players with different styles. If you have a RPer, an optimizer, a concept character and a tactician you have to appeal to a lot of people and keep everything going.

Not saying its impossible, I actually think I'm fairly good at adjusting my style MOST the time, but a lot of GM's I see in PFS do not have that capability.

Grand Lodge

Kyle Baird wrote:
You mean like Beginner Box Bashes, The First Steps series, Quests, and the Kids Track program?

The Beginner Box Bashes are great as a first introduction for one game. What about the next game? You could argue that the First Steps series is there for the second game, but now you have brought that player into PFS with all the additional work associated with the PFS as I outlined above. For new players getting a hold of the rules can be hard enough and they need more than just playing through the Beginner Box before PFS adds even more things to read, understand, and retain.

Kids Track is great... for kids. What about new adult players? The spouses of existing players that may not have the same accumulated knowledge and gaming background of their partner? I think there is merit in creating something that would allow new players to get up to the same (or similar) level of the hardcore PFS gaming crowd without throwing the additional work of the PFS on them. Home games are one option, but they do not work for public play (i.e. something the less experienced player can play at a convention during a time slot when the more experienced player is participating in a PFS game).

Kyle Baird wrote:
A good GM can make ANY scenario match the style of game their players enjoy.

Yes a, subjectively, good GM may be able to make everyone at a table have fun, even if all the players at the table need different things to have fun. But anyone can GM in PFS and is encouraged to do so (often because the GM to player ratio is off, perhaps because of the reasons I stated). Not everyone has the ability to become a 5-star uber-leet GM god that is loved by forum goers and convention attendees alike. If that is what it takes to create an enjoyable experience for a table, or is merely the expectation of a GM, than that should be made a clear and upfront point in PFS.

I am all for having anyone and everyone GM. Maybe something can be done to make it easier for them to do so than what the PFS honestly requires from them in both a time and experience. The PFS, as it is structured now, is not new GM friendly.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Relmer wrote:
The PFS, as it is structured now, is not new GM friendly.

The very first table I GM'd was the result of another GM not showing up. I was handed the scenario and asked to run it, even though I'd only even been playing for a couple of months, and had never GM'd.

We finished on time, had no deaths, had one of the most memorable final fights of my PFS career, and even got a compliment or two.

I have to disagree that the state of PFS is as dire as you make it out to be.


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Have a new player at your table? Try this:

Tell them, "Don't worry about the rules, just tell me what your character is thinking, doing, and saying and we'll figure out how what you want her to do fits within the rules."

Then, when they say something like, "I want to hit the bad guy with my sword," you walk them through move actions, drawing weapons, possible AoO's, rolling a d20, adding their attack bonus, rolling damage, etc. All in bite sized pieces. If they seem flustered, repeat "Don't worry about it, just keep telling me what you want to do, and we'll figure it out. No need for the rules to get in the way of what you want to do and us having fun."

Shadow Lodge

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And then once they play enough to get attached to their precious little snowflake, you POUNCE! Destroy them! Rip out their heart and shove it down their throat! RAWR!

Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Missouri—Cape Girardeau

It's not a scenario, but level 1 of Thornkeep. It is said to be a level 1-2. It has 3 CR4 encounters and a CR5 encounter. And one of the encounters requires a magic weapon to be effective. The dungeon should be re-rated as a 2-3 MINIMUM.


As with most tier 1-2 modules played in PFS, it's best NOT to play with a brand new level 1. A first level with some gold and XP under their belt should do just fine.

Are there tactics that state the incorporeal thing (shadow?) pursue the PCs?

The Exchange

Care Baird wrote:
And then once they play enough to get attached to their precious little snowflake, you POUNCE! Destroy them! Rip out their heart and shove it down their throat! RAWR!

you forgot drink their tears in front of them so they know you're relishing in their sorrow.

Shadow Lodge

I prefer to drink the tears in front of the surviving players. It sets the mood for the next encounter.

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

Relmer wrote:
The PFS, as it is structured now, is not new GM friendly.

Perhaps season 4 isn't as GM-friendly as it could be -- however PFS is a great tool for new GMs and players.

Last year when we started doing PFS in my area, I introduced three people that had never played a tabletop RPG before to it. Now they are some of our best players and GMs, each with their own style and mastery of the rules. One already has her first star, too.

Were it not for PFS, not only would these people have never taken that first step into the world of tabletop, but they would have never gotten to experience the ownership and awesomeness that comes with running a table.

Contributor

For what it's worth, my first and only experience GMing so far was with a Season 4 scenario, The Blakros Matrimony. It required a lot of prep, but for me, that's part of the fun.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Southwest

Kyle Baird wrote:
A good GM can make ANY scenario match the style of game their players enjoy.

This. A thousand times this.

A good community works to make all of their judges and players the best that they can be in order to increase the fun for all involved.

Grand Lodge

Tim Statler wrote:
It's not a scenario, but level 1 of Thornkeep. It is said to be a level 1-2. It has 3 CR4 encounters and a CR5 encounter. And one of the encounters requires a magic weapon to be effective. The dungeon should be re-rated as a 2-3 MINIMUM.

I've just done half of it with a group of 4 - 2 fighters, rogue, sorcerer. A single level 2 - one of he fighters.

I told the level 2 - buy a wand of Cure Light Wounds. The other fighter and the rogue have one game played - this means they have a potion CLW each. The sorcerer has a feat - to stabilize people.

They did relatively well. It would be a TPK if they go on as the last fight drained there resources. So I told them - leave the dungeon - recuperate. THIS will make likely all the difference between a TPK or if they should manage.

There is no time limit - so they should not feel rushed. It can be simple bits like this that can make a lot f difference. I wouldn't tell a much stronger party to go out and rest but might hurry them on.

Grand Lodge

I think the idea that a scenario can't appeal to everyone is nonsense.

One of the most recent scenarios, 'Green Market' for example, totally debunks this.
There's a historical and social investigation to get to the bottom of mysterious phenomena. There's a tough boss battle with plenty of tactics required. There's strange fantasy cultures and a memorable setting. If you're a roleplayer or rollplayer, you'll be satisfied with part of the scenario, even if your GM *isn't* a pro.

Thornkeep ain't so bad:
First level of Thornkeep is not so bad. I have GM'ed it twice and have not seen any fatalities, despite some poor rolling by the PCs.
A wand of cure light wounds or a party that knows about holy water can manage. It teaches them to be prepared, not just run in with a greatsword (though that can help). A party that underestimates the dungeon, forgets to rest, forgets to be prepared will be punished.
As for Galwan Silvercrown, intelligent tactics are required. Fighting defensively, guerilla tactics, short sharp blasts of offensive actions on one target all do the job.

3/5

Tim Statler wrote:
It's not a scenario, but level 1 of Thornkeep. It is said to be a level 1-2. It has 3 CR4 encounters and a CR5 encounter. And one of the encounters requires a magic weapon to be effective. The dungeon should be re-rated as a 2-3 MINIMUM.

There is some scary s%$! in that dungeon, probably the scariest out of any tier 1-2.

Especially:
The wight. Level 1? According to my understanding of negative levels it touches you once and Bam!, you're dead with no save.


Rogue Eidolon wrote:
hogarth wrote:
I'm less concerned about one-hit knockouts than I am about one hit kills (on a non-crit).
I'm in agreement here, with the caveat that the character in question isn't like a 10 Con d6 hit dice type who put favored class bonus into skill points.

I don't think there's anything particularly magical about 17 points of damage vs. 16 points of damage. YMMV, obviously.

5/5

hogarth wrote:
Rogue Eidolon wrote:
hogarth wrote:
I'm less concerned about one-hit knockouts than I am about one hit kills (on a non-crit).
I'm in agreement here, with the caveat that the character in question isn't like a 10 Con d6 hit dice type who put favored class bonus into skill points.
I don't think there's anything particularly magical about 17 points of damage vs. 16 points of damage. YMMV, obviously.

Well I did say 'like'. I personally think being d6 hit dice and 10 Con (and no Toughness) is pretty risky even if you do dump every favored class bonus into hit points. Even if you survive level 1, if you're ever the low end of a party (like a 5 in a 6-7), no matter how much you stand in the back, you risk an instant death from Area of Effect or an ambush or something--a simple increase to 12 Con increasing your til-death amount by nearly 20%. The worst I've ever seen in Organized Play was an Elf proto-Mystic Theurge with 6 Con. He somehow made it up to level 5 and was going into one of my games. I warned him that he would die from incidental AoE at some point. He did manage to stay in the back enough to make it to the BBEG, who used a Flame Strike to hit some of the other characters and incidentally hit the elf, killing him from full health (he had about 14 hit points and the attack hit for 29).


We played this recently at a con. 3 brand new PCs being played by two first time PFS players and myself, one second level paladin played by a somewhat novice player and a 5th level cleric, who left halfway through the event (did not feel well). It didn't affect our tier but would have saved the TPK.

The final fight ended up being comprised of one attack on each PC plus two for the paladin. Nevermind that special ability being used which nerfed the PCs before combat even began.

I saw this TPK coming a mile away when the BBEG hit an AC of something like 26 on his first attack.

During the final combat, I asked the new players (who were already down - paladin was dead) during the final fight if they minded dying in their first adventure -- I explained since there is really no penalty other than the PC's "twin brother" showing up for the next slot if that is what they wanted to do. I did this while stalling on my own turn during the combat -- and made sure it wasn't a big deal for my PC (the only one still up) to run into the combat.

By doing this I was also testing the GM. I thought he had forgotten that there were two brand new PFS players and three essentially level 0s in the party. I thought by reminding him of this fact he would realize what he was doing before the TPK.

So I ran in. I rolled a nat 20 and confirmed the crit, doing 17 points of damage, after the bad guy had already taken damage during the fight (and apparently healed himself when we pulled back to try ranged attacks earlier). I don't know how many HP the bad guy had left, but it could not have been many.

The GM rolled and knocked my PC down as well in the next round. He actually seemed surprised that we were all down after he asked "who is up next?"

After I told him we were all down (and the rest of the table was kind of just staring at him) he actually left the table to go find out what to do and that "don't worry, we're not all dead."

He really felt bad. I tried to warn him. I cared little for losing a first game PC and I think the other players were OK with it - which is why I ran in, but the point is that table awareness needs to be high on every GM's list of skills to take. ;)

I could see a table like this being one that drove players away. The moral of the story after that long diversion is that the GM needs to realize not just what PCs he or she has at the table, but also the level of experience of the players.

Funky Badger wrote:
Mark Moreland wrote:
To the OP and those echoing his concerns, can you please cite specific examples of encounters that you found too difficult or scenarios that felt plotless? I have several suspects in the first category, but the less vague this sort of feedback is, the more it helps the campaigns authors and those of us working on scenario development and campaign management. Thanks for the honest feedback; we appreciate it.

Rise of the Goblin Guild:

** spoiler omitted **

Contributor

Pretty epic way to go out, at least, Some Random Player! And good for you being and ambassador for the game and the campaign.

Haven't played this scenario yet. Sounds like a tough one, alright.


Random Player... bit of a derail, but why didn't you pick the other characters back up?

I ended up moving in to trip the guy and got lucky that he missed with his AOO... everyone then biffed him when he tried to stand up...

I did manage to fall in the bit earlier though. I always forget to actively search from traps when going from playing high level to playing low...

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

Some Random Player wrote:
During the final combat, I asked the new players (who were already down - paladin was dead) during the final fight if they minded dying in their first adventure -- I explained since there is really no penalty other than the PC's "twin brother" showing up for the next slot if that is what they wanted to do.

There actually is a penalty, one I think is a big one.... They will never be able to play that scenario again in hopes of getting xp, gold and any boons if it had any. Basically when you have a TPK during the scenario (Or even just a Final death) you still are marked down as playing it and you get a chronicle.

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