Modifying PFS Scenarios and / or Sanctioned Modules


GM Discussion

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Silver Crusade **

Hey everyone,

I've done a little bit of searching, and finding some conflicting answers to this, so I figured I'd get the "final" word straight from the source.

Anyway, I am new-ish to Pathfinder Society play (see my shiny new single star!) and thus far have been pretty good about sticking to the flow and statistics presented in the adventures. However, there are times where I've been scratching my head about some of the design ideas, most notably monster/enemy stat blocks.

So, my query is thus: Are we, as PFS GMs, allowed to modify feats, spells, and/or skills of said bad guys so long as it fits in the general theme of the adventure/scenario/module/thingy? Just how much leeway, if any, are we given?

I'm especially curious because I've volunteered and been chosen to run eight games at GenCon in August, and I just want to make sure I'm on the up and up. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, our local PFS gaming groups have been getting larger and larger somewhat rapidly (from 0 to over 25 regular players in about 9 months - which is awesome!) and do not want to do them any disservice by mucking things up as a face for Paizo (so to speak).

Thanks folks!

-SK

Liberty's Edge

For PFS play you are required to run it as written with no modifications. You are allowed to reward players for inventitive solutions but in terms of what is written treat it like it was written in stone (no matter how little sence it seems to make at times).

Martin

*

From the Guide to Organized Play (v4.3, page 35):

Quote:
Scenarios are meant to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters (unless indicated in the scenario), or changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, stats, traits, or weapons. However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

**

Mike Mistele wrote:

From the Guide to Organized Play (v4.3, page 35):

Quote:
Scenarios are meant to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters (unless indicated in the scenario), or changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, stats, traits, or weapons. However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

To give an example, I ran one module at Winter Fantasy 3 times. In one encounter, the 3 groups used radically different tactics and the encounter only took place in the module defined location for one of those groups. The other two groups had the encounter in a street I just made up to account for their tactics.

All the groups had fun and completed the same encounter with the same monster stats.

The Exchange *****

It was fun if you weren't wearing an expensive dress with a CMB of +3.

***** RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

If some part of a scenario doesn't make sense to you, sometime before the game day you should jump on the boards here and ask about it. This will resolve most issues.

I personally prefer to give GMs broad leeway about the way they run their chosen scenarios, but the campaign's previous attempts to give additional flexibility to GMs have often caused as many problems as they solved. One example was the "play, play, play" rule, which allowed limited replay (for character credit). Some people wisely used this to ensure that everyone got to play. Others abused the system, causing major heartburn for local coordinators.

One common GM error is to "increase the challenge" of an encounter, only to discover that the player characters aren't as capable as the GM expected. It's hard to explain afterward that you killed some PC using an item or monster that wasn't supposed to be in the scenario.

Having said that, I'd suggest that you only change details of a scenario under very unusual circumstances. These include tables with kids playing: Some scenario details are PG-13 and inappropriate for younger kids. Some challenges are meant for more capable roleplayers and require "softballing" to match the abilities of neophyte players.

You may also encounter players who sit in on a scenario they've already read or played. I prefer to "tweak" some details in such situations, perhaps moving rooms around or changing an NPC's personality or description. This helps keep the game fresh and engaging for the player.

*

Doug Miles wrote:
It was fun if you weren't wearing an expensive dress with a CMB of +3.

Your dress had a CMB of +3? Tough dress. :-D

Silver Crusade **

Mike Mistele wrote:
Doug Miles wrote:
It was fun if you weren't wearing an expensive dress with a CMB of +3.
Your dress had a CMB of +3? Tough dress. :-D

Well, yeah, it really was a...

....wait for it...

killer dress!

*

Squirrel King wrote:

Well, yeah, it really was a...

....wait for it...

killer dress!

Like so?

Lantern Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Frederick aka Azarius2010

What about year 0-3 scenarios that were made for 5 players, but you have 6-7 at the table?

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Yurius Papers wrote:
What about year 0-3 scenarios that were made for 5 players, but you have 6-7 at the table?

Actually they were made for 4 players (not 5), but to answer your question:

There are no adjustments to be made to encounters to deal with a larger table. Instead, a table of 6-7 players in a Season 0-3 scenario adds +1 when calculating their APL to determine which subtier is played.

This is spelled out in the current Guide to Organized Play (and quite a few previous versions, if I'm not mistaken).

Lantern Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Frederick aka Azarius2010

These 2 statements seem to contradict each other:

Page 34 1st Column: "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience."

Page 34 2nd Column: "Scenarios are to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters, or changes to stats, feats, spells, skills or any other mechanics of the scenario. GMs may use other Pathfinder RPG sources to add flavor to the scenario, but may not change the mechanics of encounters."

Lantern Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Frederick aka Azarius2010

Yurius Papers wrote:

These 2 statements seem to contradict each other:

Page 34 1st Column: "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience."

Page 34 2nd Column: "Scenarios are to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters, or changes to stats, feats, spells, skills or any other mechanics of the scenario. GMs may use other Pathfinder RPG sources to add flavor to the scenario, but may not change the mechanics of encounters."

I agree with the second statement with regards to CON play. I agree with the first statement when playing with a table of regular players at our weekly game.

Liberty's Edge **

Jiggy: Our new local policy is to try to limit to 4 players on a season 0 table where possible, if we get more we try to add a new gm. Of course with 'drop ins' this may not work (we might end up with 6 anyway), but we do try.

The Exchange *****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Please do not modify scenarios (or mods) in Society Play.
There are very good reasons for this. It has be discussed on the boards for what feels like once a week for years now. So to repeat.

Please don't do this. Please.

Silver Crusade *****

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Yurius Papers wrote:

These 2 statements seem to contradict each other:

Page 34 1st Column: "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience."

Page 34 2nd Column: "Scenarios are to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters, or changes to stats, feats, spells, skills or any other mechanics of the scenario. GMs may use other Pathfinder RPG sources to add flavor to the scenario, but may not change the mechanics of encounters."

I don't see a contradiction at all. Scenarios are to be run as written, but you, as a judge, can make whatever calls are necessary to ensure everyone has fun; this may be anything from interpreting a rules question to adding roleplaying material to make the module more fun. What you cannot do is change the number or stats of creatures in encounters. You also should not change their tactics unless player actions warrant it.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Yurius Papers wrote:

These 2 statements seem to contradict each other:

Page 34 1st Column: "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience."

Page 34 2nd Column: "Scenarios are to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters, or changes to stats, feats, spells, skills or any other mechanics of the scenario. GMs may use other Pathfinder RPG sources to add flavor to the scenario, but may not change the mechanics of encounters."

The first statement has been pulled away from its context. The immediately-preceding paragraph introduces the section on Table Variation by opening the topic of dealing with the unexpected. The two statements you cite are both from the second paragraph, and the sentence in between them reads: "This does not mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in this document, a published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game source, errata document, or official FAQ on paizo.com, but only you can judge what is right at your table for cases not covered in these sources."

The clear idea is that when the unexpected happens and you have to keep things moving, you make the best call you can, with a goal of a fun and fair experience. But you do that within, not instead of, the rules as best you understand them.

When you read that section of the Guide as a whole, it's very easy to understand that the sentences you cited are not contradictory, and both deal with the same main idea.

Lantern Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Frederick aka Azarius2010

Jiggy wrote:
Yurius Papers wrote:

These 2 statements seem to contradict each other:

Page 34 1st Column: "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience."

Page 34 2nd Column: "Scenarios are to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters, or changes to stats, feats, spells, skills or any other mechanics of the scenario. GMs may use other Pathfinder RPG sources to add flavor to the scenario, but may not change the mechanics of encounters."

The first statement has been pulled away from its context. The immediately-preceding paragraph introduces the section on Table Variation by opening the topic of dealing with the unexpected. The two statements you cite are both from the second paragraph, and the sentence in between them reads: "This does not mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in this document, a published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game source, errata document, or official FAQ on paizo.com, but only you can judge what is right at your table for cases not covered in these sources."

The clear idea is that when the unexpected happens and you have to keep things moving, you make the best call you can, with a goal of a fun and fair experience. But you do that within, not instead of, the rules as best you understand them.

When you read that section of the Guide as a whole, it's very easy to understand that the sentences you cited are not contradictory, and both deal with the same main idea.

This sentence, "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience.

also contradicts this sentence,"This does not mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in this document, a published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game source, errata document, or official FAQ on paizo.com, but only you can judge what is right at your table for cases not covered in these sources."

Not out of context. The first sentence contradicts all the proceeding text.

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

Yurius Papers wrote:

This sentence, "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience.

also contradicts this sentence,"This does not mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in this document, a published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game source, errata document, or official FAQ on paizo.com, but only you can judge what is right at your table for cases not covered in these sources."

Not out of context. The first sentence contradicts all the proceeding text.

I don't think it contradicts anything at all. It's saying that if the rules are ambiguous, or don't cover the clever idea the player has come up with, or nobody can cite the relevant rule in a reasonable time, then the GM should make a call and move on without fear of repercussions.

For example, if a player wants to have his character slide down a bannister and attack the enemy stood at the bottom, you could state that it would be a move action, provoking AoOs from enemies passed, requiring a DC15 acrobatics check but allowing full movement speed. You wouldn't have to worry about a player later finding rules for bannister-sliding buried deep in the hardcover 'Ultimate Stunts' or similar.

The Exchange *****

Not to be the Grammer Nazi, but...
"The first sentence contradicts all the proceeding text."???

if it's the first sentence, how does it have proceeding text? wouldn't everything else be following text?

Silver Crusade **

nosig wrote:

Not to be the Grammer Nazi, but...

"The first sentence contradicts all the proceeding text."???

if it's the first sentence, how does it have proceeding text? wouldn't everything else be following text?

I believe the term you're thinking of is "preceding", meaning "everything before". The term he used was proceeding, meaning everything afterwards.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Yurius Papers wrote:

This sentence, "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience.

also contradicts this sentence,"This does not mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in this document, a published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game source, errata document, or official FAQ on...

The sentences are only contradictory if the only way you know of to "make a call" is to knowingly disregard existing rules. Many GMs come from a home-game background where that's exactly what that means, so the Guide is clarifying that no, in PFS you can't do stuff like that; you make calls to cover weird corner cases or to prevent lengthy lookups and keep the game moving, but you don't knowingly break the rules.

The Exchange *****

Squirrel King wrote:
nosig wrote:

Not to be the Grammer Nazi, but...

"The first sentence contradicts all the proceeding text."???

if it's the first sentence, how does it have proceeding text? wouldn't everything else be following text?

I believe the term you're thinking of is "preceding", meaning "everything before". The term he used was proceeding, meaning everything afterwards.

???

pro·ceed·ing (pr-sdng, pr-)
n.
1. A course of action; a procedure.
2. proceedings A sequence of events occurring at a particular place or occasion: hectic proceedings in the kitchen.
3. proceedings A record of business carried on by a society or other organization; minutes.
4. Law
a. Legal action; litigation. Often used in the plural.
b. The instituting or conducting of legal action.

"everything before"??

Silver Crusade **

nosig wrote:

pro·ceed·ing (pr-sdng, pr-)

n.
1. A course of action; a procedure.
2. proceedings A sequence of events occurring at a particular place or occasion: hectic proceedings in the kitchen.
3. proceedings A record of business carried on by a society or other organization; minutes.
4. Law
a. Legal action; litigation. Often used in the plural.
b. The instituting or conducting of legal action.

"everything before"??

Well then... I guess it's a product of bad lessons on my part!

I'd always been taught that you can swap "succeeding" and "proceeding" to convey information that follows, hence my earlier statement. Searching about online tells me I've been wrong. Sorry to ruffle feathers. :)

Lantern Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Frederick aka Azarius2010

Squirrel King wrote:
nosig wrote:

pro·ceed·ing (pr-sdng, pr-)

n.
1. A course of action; a procedure.
2. proceedings A sequence of events occurring at a particular place or occasion: hectic proceedings in the kitchen.
3. proceedings A record of business carried on by a society or other organization; minutes.
4. Law
a. Legal action; litigation. Often used in the plural.
b. The instituting or conducting of legal action.

"everything before"??

Well then... I guess it's a product of bad lessons on my part!

I'd always been taught that you can swap "succeeding" and "proceeding" to convey information that follows, hence my earlier statement. Searching about online tells me I've been wrong. Sorry to ruffle feathers. :)

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/media/pdf/20080330115046_727.pdf

"Notice the reciprocal relationship between the topic sentence and the rest of the paragraph. The first sentence forecasts the content of the proceeding sentences and the proceeding sentences develop the content of the topic sentence."

I think that when we are arguing grammar (where nosig is clearly wrong) instead of the original subject then it is time to retire.

The Exchange *****

Yurius Papers wrote:
Squirrel King wrote:
nosig wrote:

pro·ceed·ing (pr-sdng, pr-)

n.
1. A course of action; a procedure.
2. proceedings A sequence of events occurring at a particular place or occasion: hectic proceedings in the kitchen.
3. proceedings A record of business carried on by a society or other organization; minutes.
4. Law
a. Legal action; litigation. Often used in the plural.
b. The instituting or conducting of legal action.

"everything before"??

Well then... I guess it's a product of bad lessons on my part!

I'd always been taught that you can swap "succeeding" and "proceeding" to convey information that follows, hence my earlier statement. Searching about online tells me I've been wrong. Sorry to ruffle feathers. :)

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/media/pdf/20080330115046_727.pdf

"Notice the reciprocal relationship between the topic sentence and the rest of the paragraph. The first sentence forecasts the content of the proceeding sentences and the proceeding sentences develop the content of the topic sentence."

I think that when we are arguing grammar (where nosig is clearly wrong) instead of the original subject then it is time to retire.

Plainly not the first time I have been wrong, and surely not the last. I am still confused though. I have not heard "proceeding" to referance things coming after a line. I have heard of (and would use) "proceding" for that, and as I am a bit dyslexic I saw "proceeding" and read "proceding" and jumped to the conclusion that a mistake much like I would make had been made. Which is why I said:

"Not to be the Grammer Nazi, but...
"The first sentence contradicts all the proceeding text."???
if it's the first sentence, how does it have proceeding text? wouldn't everything else be following text? "

I'm really still kind of confused, as when I look up the definintion of "proceeding" it seems to reference a "procedure"...

so as to not be quoting out of context, here is the post that caused my confusion.

This sentence, "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience.

also contradicts this sentence,"This does not mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in this document, a published Pathfinder Roleplaying Game source, errata document, or official FAQ on paizo.com, but only you can judge what is right at your table for cases not covered in these sources."

Not out of context. The first sentence contradicts all the proceeding text.

I still don't see how a procedure (as in "proceeding") is being contradicted by the first sentence.

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

And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three...'

Silver Crusade ***

Do not futz with the scenarios.

You don't know whether making the encounters more difficult will result in more fun for the table. You just don't know that. I get to decide what will be more fun for me, not you. If my character dies, or loses significant resources because you need to "challenge" her, then I am not having more fun.

So, do not futz with the scenarios.


Do not futz with the scenarios.

Agreed.

However, there are a few scenarios that require some DM clarification (ie minor futzing due to mistakes) in order to work. For example I am running 2-23 (Shadow’s Last Stand, Part I: At Shadow’s Door) this weekend, and I plan to add some doors, add 3 secret doors (that are missing) and subtract a very problematic secret door (that has the large possibility of derailing the entire scenario). I also have my own mental picture of how a certain entrance works as the one described in the mod can't possibly work (and is impossible to describe to the players anyways). I am not adding any encounters or monsters nor adding things that should not be there. But sometimes "as written" , needs to be "as written unless in editing something was missed and is an obvious mistake". In other words don't futz unless common sense requires you to, and even then don't change things that don't need changing.

So, sometimes the GM needs to futz a tiny bit to make it go (if there are mistakes in the mod).

Grand Lodge ***** Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

1 person marked this as a favorite.

To clear up any confusion, from page 35, since people are quoting certain lines, don't forget this one:

"Scenarios are meant to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters (unless indicated in the scenario), or changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, stats, traits, or weapons."

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

Kildaere wrote:

Do not futz with the scenarios.

Agreed.

However, there are a few scenarios that require some DM clarification (ie minor futzing due to mistakes) in order to work. For example I am running 2-23 (Shadow’s Last Stand, Part I: At Shadow’s Door) this weekend, and I plan to add some doors, add 3 secret doors (that are missing) and subtract a very problematic secret door (that has the large possibility of derailing the entire scenario). I also have my own mental picture of how a certain entrance works as the one described in the mod can't possibly work (and is impossible to describe to the players anyways). I am not adding any encounters or monsters nor adding things that should not be there. But sometimes "as written" , needs to be "as written unless in editing something was missed and is an obvious mistake". In other words don't futz unless common sense requires you to, and even then don't change things that don't need changing.

So, sometimes the GM needs to futz a tiny bit to make it go (if there are mistakes in the mod).

I can help with this a bit...

Here is a post from the Author clarifying some of those issues.

Lantern Lodge **** Venture-Lieutenant, Maryland—Frederick aka Azarius2010

Michael Brock wrote:

To clear up any confusion, from page 35, since people are quoting certain lines, don't forget this one:

"Scenarios are meant to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters (unless indicated in the scenario), or changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, stats, traits, or weapons."

As always, Mike B., your input is greatly appreciated. Thanks for the info.

Shadow Lodge *

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Michael Brock wrote:

To clear up any confusion, from page 35, since people are quoting certain lines, don't forget this one:

"Scenarios are meant to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters (unless indicated in the scenario), or changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, stats, traits, or weapons."

Exactly. Don't not play with the monsters as written.

However, intelligent monsters may change tactics to counter what the PCs are doing.

You may very occasionally come across situations where some modifications of the fluff is warranted. For example, I once ran a table where a ten year olds faction mission involved contact with a prostitute. His mother was also playing at the table. Said NPC became an 'entertainer' very quickly.

Also sometimes your own outside knowledge may help you flavor a given situation. For example,

Spoiler:
In Temple of Empyreal, Enlightenment, the party meets some naive cultists. I used to work at the airport where I encountered Hare Krishna every day and got on a nodding/occasional conversation basis with them. So when I run this module my cultists have a bit of a Krishna feel.
That is perfectly okay.

**

I agree GMs shouldn't change modules.
I've only heard 'oops' stories for when they do, most involving death.

Even adding flavor should be second-guessed. In one instance, a GM moved some NPCs for the PCs to talk to early. When I'd played that module, the absence of NPCs in that location had been a clue I used to solve the mystery.
In another, a GM wanted to change a very famous Halfling to a Goblin with an axe that matched his mini (but only if there no mechanical changes due to Dwarves/etc.). Mechanics aside, that character is a HALFLING! (Yes, that notorious Halfling that I know about, and fear, even though I've never played that module.) Putting a Goblin in his place would be a disservice to the players. Imagine them saying "Halfling? What Halfling?" after running that module.
Just sayin'.

That said...
Sometimes there are errors in the modules that should have errata, but don't.
Can I swap the spell that's listed at the wrong level for a spell that is the right level? (seen twice at least) Do I leave the slot empty or give the NPC access to that spell anyway?
Can I swap out a feat that does no good for a monster (i.e. Martial Weapon Proficiency for a Barbarian) for another feat?
Can't I follow the advice of the author or Mark & Mike re: rectifying a module's stats and/or storyline?
What about the advice of multi-star GMs/VCs/VLs who've run it?
What if all the players request more difficulty?

Sorry if I seem wishy-washy on which side of the issue I stand. I guess I'm saying, don't make changes on a whim, and can't we fix obvious errors?

Maybe we could start a sticky GM thread (perhaps locked to only bigwigs) listing 'official errata' on modules.

Grand Lodge ** RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I recall Mike Brock once saying something along the lines of "The run-as-written rule is not there because too many GMs were correcting typos."

So if, for instance, a scenario had a rogue enemy whose HP was calculated from d6 hit dice instead of d8, I think it's within the spirit of organized play to correct that error. On the other hand, it's also been established that Season Zero scenarios (written under 3.5 rules) are not supposed to be "updated" by GMs (thus there are lots of evil clerics in heavy armor in Season 0). So be careful.

It gets a little fuzzier with trying to replace illegal spells/feats. Choosing a replacement means you're materially altering how the scenario plays out at your own sole discretion. As opposed to correcting a typo/math error where you're moving it toward the one and only thing the rules point to - you're not making a choice about what's going to be in the scenario.

I recall one scenario where some thugs have Combat Expertise, but without the requisite 13 INT, and the tactics include its use. I think it would be appropriate to just run it as-written (using CE), or to pretend they don't have it and have them fight defensively instead. But I don't think it would be appropriate to swap it out for a different feat, because then you're deciding what the encounter is going to be, and that's not your call. Do you give them Toughness? Dodge (which, compared to using CE, is effectively giving them an attack bonus)? Power Attack? Fleet? How do you decide? This is where I think you start straying from "making a correction" to "altering the scenario".

But that's just my own reasoning, so take it as you will. :)

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

I think a great example of something that worked out really well was in a Season 1 scenario that I recently ran. For one encounter, the printed tactics were illegal because the monster's ability didn't work that way. I looked on the forums and a separate set of tactics were offered by the author - I used these and they were a huge hit with both groups that I ran it for. In situations where there is an error in the scenario, more leeway is given - adjusting the difficulty, though, is verboten. Why? Because some people have a heavier hand than others, or have a different idea of what "fun" is. Some people aren't having fun unless at least 1 PC dies every scenario. When those people become GMs, if they are able to adjust for difficulty, it will often result in TPKs.

Shadow Lodge *

Another situation that came up. Running the Disappeared for four players

Spoiler:
I realize I forgot to adjust the combat for a smaller party at the begining of the second round. Rather then facing 2 Imps, they should be facing 1 imp with haste. Rather then start over, I simply half the hit points for both imps so that they equal 1 imp. They are still facing the same number of attacks and same number of hp to take down the threat.

To me that is fixing a mistake on the fly rather then adjusting the scenario.

**

Yes, Netopalis, that's a good example, mainly because it came from the author. But rather than having to Search-Fu through the threads, we could have a resource area, with spoilers if it's a thread, for such changes.

I think it's just as unfair to rob an NPC of a feat or spell because of an error as it is to add a feat or spell. Plus or minus one feat or spell isn't much, but they're equivalent errors.
(Actually, some of those can be pretty important.)
Using an illegal build rubs me the wrong way.
Changing to a similar feat/spell seems the least error of the three.

Cheers, JMK

Grand Lodge *****

Illegal builds are only illegal for players. Authors are free to "break" the rules with opponents. Complaints of season 0 scenarios not following the rules will only lead to them being retired.

**

Authors also make mistakes. Some even rectify them in the messageboards.
How do we know the difference?

And, arguably, they aren't breaking the rules, but "recasting" them to suit the module's purposes. When done intentionally, "Yay", but I doubt I would even notice such a (non) mistake. It's the plain old (unexplained) errors that bug me.

Not referring to Season 0 modules which followed the rules at one time, and would not be error-prone, just unevolved.

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

Don Walker wrote:
Illegal builds are only illegal for players. Authors are free to "break" the rules with opponents. Complaints of season 0 scenarios not following the rules will only lead to them being retired.

Well, in this certain situation, here's what happened:

The Jester's Fraud:
The first fight has the players fighting a hag coven. The tactics speak about them splitting up to gain access to the building and about one or two of them casting spells while the third distracts in melee. In order for a hag coven to cast spells, they must be within 10 feet of each other, and all 3 must take a full round action. The author changed this and their spell order to fit better with what was intended, and added a bit of flavor. Altogether, it was a much, much better fight.

Grand Lodge *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Furious Kender wrote:
Mike Mistele wrote:

From the Guide to Organized Play (v4.3, page 35):

Quote:
Scenarios are meant to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters (unless indicated in the scenario), or changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, stats, traits, or weapons. However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

To give an example, I ran one module at Winter Fantasy 3 times. In one encounter, the 3 groups used radically different tactics and the encounter only took place in the module defined location for one of those groups. The other two groups had the encounter in a street I just made up to account for their tactics.

All the groups had fun and completed the same encounter with the same monster stats.

Apologies for resurrecting the thread, but it is related and had a good quotation as a starting point.

Our local area has an over arching gaming organization, who in recent years, as a response to real criminal harassment, has adopted a zero-tolerance policy and safe space policy, that has some real conflict with Run as written.

In the policy is the idea of the creation of a X-card, which acts as a symbolic safe word, individuals touch, or gesture to the prop as an indicator that the content has exceed their limit, or the limits of someone they are advocating against. The x-card does not require justification, but it may require clarification. i.e. if a GM finishes a large block of box text about the Fire Demon Jim and rabid horde of dogs, if someone touches the X-card, it may be because they recently suffered the loss of a dear friend named Jim, and they are emotionally unable to handle it. Or they have a petrifying fear of dogs bordering on PTSD after being mauled as a child. They don't have to explain any of that, they just have to say "dogs are off limits for me."

The local policy requires that players and GM to adapt the content to keep the space safe. Fire Demon Jim becomes Fire Demon Frank, or the Rabid dogs become rabid beavers. All this is just cosmetic, and mechanically things can stay the same, but I can imagine scenarios where say "fire" is the issue, and some fire demon jim because the its so cold it burns ice demon, and now we have issues to say "are we using resist energy Fire or resist energy Cold"

Overall I find myself agreeing with the intention of the policy, while disagreeing with the implementation, but I understand that it rarely comes up, and was only implemented after lesser attempts to curb the aforementioned criminal harassment failed.

Where this comes to ahead, is many PFS events in the region are held within spaces organized by this regional group, and so subject to their rules. My general thought is that we can accommodate these rules in sanctioned content, but I wanted to raise a discussion, because I find the whole thing a little surreal.

Thoughts?

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

I think under the circumstances you have no choice but to follow the local rules and refluff things when necessary. Obviously, do this as little as possible consistent with the rules.

The alternative would be to not run PFS or to find alternate venues. The first is clearly worse than reflavoring. Changing venues, even if possible, leads to the risk of drawing in all the people who practice harrasment.

*

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have a phobia.

Folks either understand phobias or don't.

Thankfully, in the scenario I've run there are *ways* built into the scenario to avoid the phobic area while still remaining fun for the players.

However, with no established way of communicating the phobia, the general *play* experience has been: 1. Shut up. 2. Sit there quietly (even if my character is a 'face') and try to think of *something else* and *not have a breakdown*. 3. Try to get through encounter as fast as possible and not talk about it again.

Thankfully, so far I've been able to weather it, but if someone pushes the issue, is it disruptive to game-play to drop a GM a note telling them about this phobia?

Or alternatively, should I let them know before the scenario starts even though that is typically a very busy hectic time even for well-prepared GMs?

As a GM, how should I handle a player that communicates a phobia to me that causes an encounter to be extremely damaging to the mental health of the player? Do I tell them to 'get lost' (I hope not!) or do I make some adjustments (without altering abilities) to the situation for the ease of the player in question?

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

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Wei Ji the Learner wrote:


Or alternatively, should I let them know before the scenario starts even though that is typically a very busy hectic time even for well-prepared GMs?

As a GM, how should I handle a player that communicates a phobia to me that causes an encounter to be extremely damaging to the mental health of the player? Do I tell them to 'get lost' (I hope not!) or do I make some adjustments (without altering abilities) to the situation for the ease of the player in question?

I'd have no problem if a player told me in advance that they had potential issues, especially if it was likely to come up (e.g. a fear of spiders in a Drow scenario). I could then either change things or perhaps warn the player. Hopefully come up with some acceptable solution.

Also no problem if the player waited until it was an issue and told me then.

If an issue came up I'd do whatever I could to make the player comfortable. I'd reflavor and/or change things as necessary, making as little mechanical change as possible.

In the highly unlikely event that I couldn't change things sufficiently ( eg somebody with an issue with Weddings who signed up for the Blakros Matrimony?) I'd leave it to the player if they wanted to stay or leave.


Kurt Schaecher wrote:

These 2 statements seem to contradict each other:

Page 34 1st Column: "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever calls you feel are necessary at your table to ensure that everyone has a fair and fun experience."

Page 34 2nd Column: "Scenarios are to be run as written, with no addition or subtraction to number of monsters, or changes to stats, feats, spells, skills or any other mechanics of the scenario. GMs may use other Pathfinder RPG sources to add flavor to the scenario, but may not change the mechanics of encounters."

It's not a contradiction. There are a lot of judgement calls you can make that don't involve changing the written material or mechanics in a scenario.

If a party does something that completely invalidates what an NPC would do, you can change the tatics of the NPC within the limits of what's written for the NPC... you don't get to change spells, equipment, feats, but you may wind up changing the choices the NPC makes with what they have.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden aka Ascalaphus

This sort of thing hasn't happened (yet) in games I've been in. However, I think the following would be appropriate;

* Respect the X card. Pathfinder Society aims to be a fun and safe experience for everyone. We don't judge people for being sensitive.

* Respect the phobia; same reasons.

* Take a moment to assess the situation, see what the possibilities are. Is it an option to just gloss over the situation, quickly moving on? If it's just a minor part of the scenario, that may be most practical. This may even go as far as calling off a minor combat encounter that the players would've won anyway; for example saying "you dispose of the spider swarm and mark off a CLW wand charge".

Otherwise, is it doable to refluff to defuse the problem, without seriously compromising the scenario? Then that's fine too. If spiders are a problem but rats aren't, and this isn't the temple of the spider queen, then lets go on.

If changing the scene isn't viable, cutting the scene isn't viable, but it's only one scene, maybe the sensitive person can wait out of earshot until it's over. This is a drastic solution that I'd rather not resort to because a person might be waiting for a while, if combat is involved.

If there is a fundamental clash between the player's sensitivity and the scenario (someone who can't handle talk of blood, investigating a Zon-Kuton/Rovagug exchange program), then more drastic steps are needed. Maybe the person can switch tables to a more suitable scenario? Maybe it'll be better if we just shelf this game and grab a board game for a couple of hours?

* Clearly, it's much more convenient if we can avoid all this happening in the middle of a game. Players with triggers do well to read the adventure blurb before signing on, and perhaps asking the GM "I'm sensitive to X, and the blurb makes me question if this is really the scenario for me. Do you have any advice?" That way the GM can recommend not signing up for that game, or maybe do preparation to smooth things over more elegantly if that's an option. Or assure the player that the trigger won't come up.

---

Having said all that, what are acceptable changes you can make to a scenario? Well, it's not entirely set in stone.

Clearly, changing the mechanics is a big no-no, because that really undermines the fairness principle. If you read the current (7th) version of the Guide to Organized Play (p34-35) you'll notice there's a lot of emphasis on keeping the mechanics of the scenario as written.

Fluff/description however, there's a bit more leeway. Ideally people who play the same scenario will discover lots of common ground when swapping war stories. But limited changes for very good reasons are more acceptable here; like smoothing over sensitive topics (phobias, politics, religion, sex) as appropriate to the audience.

Sczarni **** Venture-Lieutenant, Connecticut—Manchester aka Cpt_kirstov

I would try to alert to alert the GM verbally prior to the game if possible (not sure how comfortable you are talking about it). This will give them a few minutes leyway to go over any encounters they feel may set off your phobia, and change things the way Galnörag outlines above. In a loud convention setting, while a letter is a little more discreet, it takes a little longer as it is easy to get distracted.

Depending on how the GM is running (paper vs tablet) and the actual story, they may slip up (some stories are simpler to change than others, and writing notes in the margins is easier on paper). But everyone tries to create a fun environment for the entire table. Notes can get shuffled away under something and forgotten about.

Something I've done prior to scenarios if pass out note cards Asking for certain things (initiative modifier, Perception, languages known) If the phobia were the fire that in mentioned up thread and brought to me early enough, I'd ask for any energy resistances.

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