Run as written


GM Discussion

1 to 50 of 128 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Shadow Lodge

This rule in PFS seems silently but heavily in dispute.

Looking over the Day of the Demon thread, mostly with VC and VL comments since it's an exclusive, Drogon's post talks all about what he's going to change for the scenario because parts of it don't make sense. Everyone posting there doesn't see anything wrong with this, plans to/considers to do the same thing themselves, nobody crying foul.

Primarily VC's and VL's. I know Mike is keen on Run as Written, and Mark Moreland is posting in that thread as well, doesn't make mention of these rule-breaks except to correct that (at least some of, I can't be sure) what's in the scenario is correct.

Then there are other threads where others - who aren't any kind of leadership beyond GMs - will advise people to run as written. This is what I do, but with threads like that perfect example above, I wonder if I'm giving out bad advice.

I realise this sounds like an attack, but that's really not my intention - if I'm reading run as written wrongly, or if there are exceptions, what are they? I'm happy to either run as written or make changes as needed, but what the rulebook says and what is actually happening are clearly two different things that I'd like to see sorted out.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Here are my thoughts.

If the rules didn't state to run the scenarios as they are written, then GMs could run it the way they want. Some GMs would change a particular scenario and make it better. Some GMs would change too much of a scenario and butcher it. Some GMs would change a scenario so much as to make it into something else completely, and maybe even make it not worth playing. In general, wholesale chaos would ensue. Some of it good chaos and some of it bad.

Now, with that said, you should always run the scenarios as they're written. ;)

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

Not all violations of Run as Written are equally serious.

Some things can be game changers - adding, subtracting, or seriously modifying monsters, traps, DCs, etc., or deviating from explicitly-described tactics should never be done.

But I find it hard to view something like rotating the map by 45 degrees to make it easier to draw as anywhere near as bad an offense. After all, I've probably made at least as much of a cartographic change (albeit inadvertently) when hastily drawing an encounter area on a battle-mat. As long as it doesn't materially affect the flow of play it's not worth worrying about.

And, as the author has pointed out, at least one of the encounters is quite likely to spread into other areas beyond the one where it first starts; that's a perfectly reasonable tactic for the monsters in question (and, I assume, not explicitly prohibited by whatever tactics are called for in the stat block). That sort of change isn't a violation of Run as Written; that's the sort of thing a GM is often expected to do as the encounter progresses. Monsters like this aren't dumb - they're not going to stand around waiting for the PCs to surround them if there's a tactical advantage to be gained by moving.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Quote:
But I find it hard to view something like rotating the map by 45 degrees to make it easier to draw as anywhere near as bad an offense.

But.. but.. everyone knows you can't use polearms to attack north east! The kobolds were basing their entire defensive strategy around that!!!!

Every once in a while you find somethings you almost need to change

At least two fights I know of call out for entangle to be used...but the area doesn't have any plants. You either need to put some plants on the map or use a different strategy.

One scenario calls for the party to be denied perception checks for the surprise round unless they announce they're expecting an ambush ( in a scenario where they've been told point blank that they're specifically acting as bait and are going to be ambushed)-which breaks the rules for perception, and leads to turning a scene from the gamers from a joke to a documentary.

Grand Lodge

Guide to Pathfinder Society Ver. 4.3 wrote:
As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever judgements, within the rules, that you feel are necessary at your table to ensure everyone has a fair and fun experience. 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. What it does mean is that only you can judge what is right for your table during cases not covered in these sources.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I really wish I'd kept a link, but I recall Mike once saying something to the effect of "We didn't make the 'Run as Written' rule because too many GMs were correcting typos".

The impression I've gotten of the overall official stance (but again, my impression) is that fixing errors is generally fine, but the minute you make a decision of "I think this should be X", it's over the line.

2/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I was recently told a story (yes, that makes it hearsay) from a friend who played a scenario wherein the GM had removed some encounters and had completely replaced the second part of the scenario with a weird melange of modified versions of the combats in a completely different place.

After he played the scenario, he read it in anticipation of GMing it at an upcoming game day... and found that he had been *bamboozled*! His experience of the scenario was not what other Pathfinder players would experience and so he was robbed of that shared experience we have when comparing notes as players about previously experienced scenarios.

"What?!? There were no flying monkeys in that combat! Not when I played it."

This is a really good reason for not fudging the modules- one GM might fudge it a tiny bit, others will completely re-write the darn thing.


Jiggy wrote:
The impression I've gotten of the overall official stance (but again, my impression) is that fixing errors is generally fine, but the minute you make a decision of "I think this should be X", it's over the line.

Jiggy, this is my impression as well. With the sad exception of creatures with class levels (most humanoids) in season 0 who could totally use some "corrections" from 3.5 rules.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

There is no "wink". GMs are expected to run PFS adventures as they are written.

We may not change any stats, DCs, numbers of creatures, etc.

We are allowed to change tactics only when the written tactics no longer make sense for the current circumstances, but we are expected to maintain the spirit of the original tactics. For example, if the stated tactics of the adversaries state that they are trying to capture the PCs and not kill them, it is not OK to have the adversaries switch to lethal force and coup de grace the PCs instead.

We are allowed to add additional story background based on published Golarion cannon.

We are not allowed to add encounters or change the plot.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Avatar-1, I think you're misinterpreting what I wrote in that thread. I am not advocating changing anything to do with stats. Creatures, tactics, NPC stat blocks, traps, or anything to do with mechanics (including the size of the rooms and environmental effects) are things that I will not touch. Once Mark and the author had weighed in and said there were no errors, I ended my complaints regarding the map; meaning I wouldn't touch that, either.

The only thing I advocated changing was "fluff." You might call it role playing, under certain circumstances.

If the scenario says your PCs sit down to dinner with a contact before they are attacked, would it be "changing the scenario" to actually provide a menu for them to choose from?

If the map describes one wall of the mansion to have a massive picture window looking out on the city, would it be considered run against the rules to provide a description of the view?

How about an NPC who "fights to the death" because he was tortured by clerics who he thought were adventurers. Because of his background, the tactics state he will attack cleric, first. Is it against the rules to have him shout slurs to his foes as he's fighting them even if it isn't written into the tactics that he will?

That is fluff, and well within your purview as a GM to "change." Providing engaging description and NPCs, and giving your players a way to figure out the story they are playing through, is what makes a GM stand out to his players.

In the case of Day of the Demon, clues are to be found regarding what is going on. Personally, the way those clues are presented make the story difficult to present. So, instead of being laid out in a conveniently left behind journal (which would raise skepticism among my players instead of belief), the exact same words will be found amongst some burned documents, appearing to be something that should have been destroyed. I am simply trying to present the story.

There is a very specific passage regarding this in the Guide to Organized Play. Here is the part about mechanics:

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.

Here is the part I'm discussing:

Quote:
GMs may use other Pathfinder RPG sources to add flavor to the scenario, but may not change the mechanics of encounters. Specifically, the mechanics of an encounter are the creatures presented, the number of opponents in the encounter, and the information written into the stat blocks for those opponents. If an encounter is a trap, haunt, or skill check that needs to be achieved to bypass a situation then the listed DCs and results are not to be altered, as they are the mechanics of that encounter.

It is a very detailed passage. It is on page 35 of the current Guide. I encourage you to read it.

Hope this helps dispel any misconceptions about that thread that I, specifically, may have caused.

The Exchange 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Quote:
But I find it hard to view something like rotating the map by 45 degrees to make it easier to draw as anywhere near as bad an offense.

But.. but.. everyone knows you can't use polearms to attack north east! The kobolds were basing their entire defensive strategy around that!!!!

Every once in a while you find somethings you almost need to change

At least two fights I know of call out for entangle to be used...but the area doesn't have any plants. You either need to put some plants on the map or use a different strategy.

One scenario calls for the party to be denied perception checks for the surprise round unless they announce they're expecting an ambush ( in a scenario where they've been told point blank that they're specifically acting as bait and are going to be ambushed)-which breaks the rules for perception, and leads to turning a scene from the gamers from a joke to a documentary.

BNW raises good points here. What do you do when the stated tactics (spell use is the most common) don't work? Not that the tactics are bad, but that they call for doing something that doesn't work that way? This often happens when the writer was mistaken in how a rule worked, and the monster then tries to brake the rules by doing it the way it's written.

Judge "he casts entangle. make a save."
Player A "Ah, we're in a street, a paved street - there aren't any plants around. what are we saving against?"
Judge "Says right here, he casts entangle. So the spell must create the plants."
Players A thru E all take note to play more druids, Fey bloodline Sorcerers and plant clerics. They will later encounter problem judges who insist that they have to have plants to get entangle to work, when they KNOW you don't.

Never happen right? except I know it did, I've gotten several of those players in later games.

Sovereign Court 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

You'll find that a lot of people tend to agree with Drogon on Gm threads because he puts good stuff there to add to the flavor of a scenario. I use stuff he posted for Golemworks and Fortress of the Nail when I run those scenarios and it makes them way more fun. If you are prepping a thread, you should take a serious look at Drogon's posts.

Golemworks Incident:
I've practiced that intro enough times that I can do it without thinking too much and without saying the word "golem" as to try to get people to forget about the scenario title.

And the looks on people's faces when I use those insults...

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Iammars wrote:

You'll find that a lot of people tend to agree with Drogon on Gm threads because he puts good stuff there to add to the flavor of a scenario. I use stuff he posted for Golemworks and Fortress of the Nail when I run those scenarios and it makes them way more fun. If you are prepping a thread, you should take a serious look at Drogon's posts.

** spoiler omitted **

Thanks, Iammars. I'm glad you're getting some mileage out of that stuff. (-:

Avatar-1, one more thing from me: if ever I am told that even the fluff of a scenario should be left alone, I can promise you I will do so. The interactions I have had with both Mike and Mark have never included those instructions. And, trust me, I've brought this kind of thing up before. If one of them weighs in and gainsays me, here, I can assure you that "Run as Written" will become even more tight for me. I will admit, however, that it will not be without a bit of argument, first...


Fluff is valuable. Use it to enrich, rather than change, and you're good as gold.
Note: I have seen fluff used to change.
So be careful.

Statistical mechanics, I can fix those from the ground up. As for errors like no plants for the spell that needs plants, things like this come up very often.
BTW, if I recall, the author stated he imagined there were weeds coming up through the cobblestones or the patches of dirt around, but after comments he realized that he hadn't put those in the description.
Assuming it's the right scenario. :)

Running several scenarios this weekend with errors:
1. "Use full attack" with creature that can't full attack.
2. "Use illusion to distract" (success is a given) vs. creature that can automatically sense it's not real.
3. 6th level spell. In 5th level slot. (And a gamechanger at that.)
So do I ignore their most powerful spell slot? (The lack of a spell there would be a gamechanger as well.)
If I got author approval on a substitute, is that legal?
How about Mark/Mike? VC/VL?
4. "Use Stand Still" w/ "Use longspears as long as possible", when the feat only works vs. adjacent targets.
5. "Tries to use X ability, but fails." Funny, if she uses her Y & Z abilities (which fit into her tactics fine), she can easily attempt X.

This is off the top of my head.

I vote for a FAQ/errata page for scenarios.
Spoiler it to avoid accidental glimpses while scrolling, which would also allow to keep it to one webpage for easier maintenance.
A sticky thread could do this too, especially if locked to official posters only.

Cheers,
JMK

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Castilliano wrote:
BTW, if I recall, the author stated he imagined there were weeds coming up through the cobblestones or the patches of dirt around, but after comments he realized that he hadn't put those in the description.

I don't think that would change much, since dandilions poking up between the cobblestones wouldn't be nearly enough. You'd need either the worst city maintenance in history or the church of Gozreh demanding that the plants be FREEEEEEEE! to have enough vegitation.

I just specified that the encounter was taking place on park street and threw in a few trees. Course the players started getting nervous whenever i reached for the green marker after that...

The Exchange 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Castilliano wrote:
BTW, if I recall, the author stated he imagined there were weeds coming up through the cobblestones or the patches of dirt around, but after comments he realized that he hadn't put those in the description.

I don't think that would change much, since dandilions poking up between the cobblestones wouldn't be nearly enough. You'd need either the worst city maintenance in history or the church of Gozreh demanding that the plants be FREEEEEEEE! to have enough vegitation.

I just specified that the encounter was taking place on park street and threw in a few trees. Course the players started getting nervous whenever i reached for the green marker after that...

If we're in the same scenario, when I run it, several of the "stalls" on my (hand drawn) map are plant stores/Flower shops - I even had one PC using one as cover when the spell was cast, with resulted in him moving thru the rest of the encounter trailing a potted shubbery grabbed onto his leg. (yeah, a little bit of humor).

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Another issue with Run as Written I've found is how GM's Prep and player reactions. For example:

Fortress of the nail

Spoiler:
When I drew the map of the kennels, I made a point of grabbing all my Nessian Warhound/Hellcat/Howler minis from D&D and put one in each 'kennel' As a result, the players wasted a good bit of time burning charges from the charm monster wand trying to affect them. At the same time when I played it because they wee described yet not on the map made me not really consider them as a threat. Now if the GM running had given into his desire to have their breath weapons come through the cages...

No Plunder No Pay

Spoiler:
When I ran this, the ghost ship made the group want a deck layout and where all the crew were. They were so worried about what amounts to set dressing that the wizard opened up on the ship with the fireball, after the two ghosts (low tier) jumped to their ship. So there they basically were burning (ha!) resources on set dressing.

Shadow Lodge

Great to see this is getting some discussion.

Drogon, I've had a second look at that thread and I don't think some of the things mentioned there were just fluff, and it's a good example of where something might seem like a small change but actually be a change that PFS wants to restrict.


  • Point 1 was just about the title, that's irrelevant.
  • Point 2 was about removing a specific clue that was in the scenario - that's not fluff. It might enrich, but that's an enrichment made by a change, not an addition.
  • Point 3 was about changing one of the clues to something that made more sense. I don't know what that would change mechanically, but that doesn't sound like fluff either - it sounds like it would change the way the players would find it.
  • Point 4 had something to do with the gargoyle tactics/development by the sounds of it

Don's provided the best advice I've seen here so far, including this:

Don Walker wrote:


We are allowed to change tactics only when the written tactics no longer make sense for the current circumstances, but we are expected to maintain the spirit of the original tactics. For example, if the stated tactics of the adversaries state that they are trying to capture the PCs and not kill them, it is not OK to have the adversaries switch to lethal force and coup de grace the PCs instead.

I might have misunderstood point 4, it might have been a faction mission thing, but that's another thing again - what kind of leeway is there on meeting the requirements of a faction mission? Can we go against what's there if it doesn't sound quite right?

Again, I appreciate you're trying to limit yourself when you say:

Drogon wrote:
However, this forces me to alter what is written and presented in the scenario, and I'm not a fan of that option.

Shadow Lodge

Another example I want to bring up is where I was in a game of First Steps 1 and in the last fight, the GM changed the encounter so that we started with us in the middle, two in front of us, and two behind us, from the onset.

I'm sure he did this because he knew this was a replayable and that at least most of us had played it many times before, so changing things up a bit was actually a pretty good experience in that respect - but is that another exception?

Michael's quote from the PFS guide above:

Michael Azzolino wrote:
As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever judgements, within the rules, that you feel are necessary at your table to ensure everyone has a fair and fun experience. 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. What it does mean is that only you can judge what is right for your table during cases not covered in these sources.

...sounds like it might cover this kind of situation, but that also sounds like it covers all sorts of situations which might include doing the more obvious changes (like changing stats) vs the more subtle changes (like a burnt journal instead of a journal lying around).


I don't think we're all ever going to agree on one specific interpretation of RAW. I think that, since we are all individuals, interpretations and ways of handling it area going to differ.

Part of that, I think is that we all have varying levels of experience despite this being a scenario for 4th, 5th stars and VOs.

Are there things that sometimes need to be tweaked? Yes. Lets look at Cyphermage, some people felt that it was fine, others (myself included) felt that there were major plotholes and that there were things that needed to be tweaked in order for the scenario to run smoothly. I unashamedly did not run that as written, because I couldn't.

I don't think tweaking the map orientation, or moving a fight from inside a building to outside is game breaking nor is it violating the RAW rules.

Shadow Lodge

If that's the case, I think it's important for everyone to remember that run as written can still easily mean quite a different experience from GM to GM.

I think a lot of good can come of being able to deviate slightly, within reason, it'd just be nice if we could define "within reason" as much as possible (and again, I think Don's done the best job of that here).


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Ya know .. I've tried running games strictly RAW and not deviating whatsoever ... and I sucked as a GM. I sucked so bad the players even commented and one make the comment that they could tell I wasn't running in my comfort zone.

One of the best things a GM can have in their arsenal is the ability to go with the flow of the table. If we define this down to the nth degree we are going to start to have really super sucky GMs that, when allowed to slightly deviate, are awesome.

In other words... for me... I would say let it lie where it is and not try to define it further to the point where campaign staff ends up having to make a ruling and screws up the way some GMs shine as GMs

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

I feel like I'm on trial. d-:

No worries, though. A-defendin' myself, I go...

A piece of information I should point out: I never went back into that thread to leave my notes or thoughts upon running it. I felt the thread had derailed too many times and it wasn't worth the effort to write something up. So, some of those thoughts will be a part of my "defense."

Avatar-1 wrote:

Drogon, I've had a second look at that thread and I don't think some of the things mentioned there were just fluff, and it's a good example of where something might seem like a small change but actually be a change that PFS wants to restrict.

Point 1 was just about the title, that's irrelevant.

Agreed. And seeing as the title isn't going to change, I think you could just chalk it up to a gripe of mine, rather than a change I am advocating. However, I would like to note that this initial point kind of sets the tone for the ensuing posts. I'm raising issues. I'm not advocating wholesale changes to things.

To continue in that vein:

Avatar-1 wrote:
Point 2 was about removing a specific clue that was in the scenario - that's not fluff. It might enrich, but that's an enrichment made by a change, not an addition.

I never moved the tracks. I settled on the idea that the cart had been overturned after the family was taken and that its new position had protected the tracks from the rain. Thus, the scenario's placement of that clue was left intact.

Avatar-1 wrote:
Point 3 was about changing one of the clues to something that made more sense. I don't know what that would change mechanically, but that doesn't sound like fluff either - it sounds like it would change the way the players would find it.

This was the journal vs burned notes I mentioned above. I did not move the location, nor did I change the wording. I merely changed the flavor so that it appeared the journal was burned in a (botched) attempt to dispose of evidence. I feel that this presentation elicited discussion from the group that centered on the evidence, rather than the inevitable "What a moron" discussion that would have resulted from the perfectly intact journal left behind. "What, was it too big to take with him, or something? What an idiot. Maybe we were meant to find this and its a misdirection. Stupid." I didn't want that discussion. I wanted the players to focus on figuring out the story.

Avatar-1 wrote:

Point 4 had something to do with the gargoyle tactics/development by the sounds of it...

...I might have misunderstood point 4, it might have been a faction mission thing, but that's another thing again - what kind of leeway is there on meeting the requirements of a faction mission? Can we go against what's there if it doesn't sound quite right?

No, it had to do with what the result of the tactics would be for the ENTIRE GROUP if they were followed. The gargoyle's listed tactics say it flees when reduced below a certain number of hp. The geas will not subsequently force it back until long after the PCs have left. At that point, the "Concluding the Adventure" clause in the scenario says that because the gargoyle was not destroyed or a way around it was not found, the PCs have failed to earn their XP for the scenario.

I hope we can all agree that, by ignoring the "flee" tactic, the result is a bit more satisfying for all involved, and far more in line with the spirit of the game.

Avatar-1 wrote:

Again, I appreciate you're trying to limit yourself when you say:

Drogon wrote:
However, this forces me to alter what is written and presented in the scenario, and I'm not a fan of that option.

This had to do with the map. The issue was that four large creatures were stuffed into a room that was only 10'x20' and expected to not only fight from that position, but hide while the PCs explored the room around them. I'm pretty sure you'll agree that this is, in a word, laughable.

The author came into the thread with suggestions, as did Mark, and I went with those suggestions. I hope we're not going to subsequently debate about whether the author and the PFS Developer's suggestions should have been ignored due to being against the scenario as written.

In conclusion, I stand by what I said: I altered fluff, and that was it. I did not touch any mechanical aspect of the game.

In regards to standardizing any set of rules for these kinds of alterations, I'm with PFCBG: let it lie. The wording on page 35 of the Guide was changed already for this publication. Let's see how it works, first, before advocating more rules-lawyering.

Also, for the record: I do not feel you're attacking me. I'm fine with criticism, and will never mind explaining my actions. Please feel free to continue to question them. (-:

Shadow Lodge

All good Drogon. I don't want to push it because it was only what I thought was a good example (and probably not so good now that you've fleshed it out), just want to sort out a standard.

PFCBG - I'll be the first one to say we shouldn't put down rules to the nth degree, but the whole game is rules, and I think this one just hasn't been specific enough. I've seen many different tables that don't run games that don't seem close enough to what's written and I don't think it's GMs abusing the rule, I think it's a misunderstanding of what's expected which is causing that widespread table variation on something that seems straightforward... but maybe isn't.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Avatar-1 wrote:
All good Drogon. I don't want to push it because it was only what I thought was a good example (and probably not so good now that you've fleshed it out), just want to sort out a standard.

So, I'm judged innocent? Huzzah!

Avatar-1 wrote:
PFCBG - I'll be the first one to say we shouldn't put down rules to the nth degree, but the whole game is rules, and I think this one just hasn't been specific enough. I've seen many different tables that don't run games that don't seem close enough to what's written and I don't think it's GMs abusing the rule, I think it's a misunderstanding of what's expected which is causing that widespread table variation on something that seems straightforward... but maybe isn't.

I hesitate to open this can of worms, but I would like to offer up another theory: individual interpretation of the scenario will differ wildly.

No one ever sets out to specifically do something wrong. It's just not in our nature as human beings to attempt to fail.

However, the way you read and interpret something will be different than the way I read and interpret something. A favorite example of mine is Darkest Vengeance (which I believe you and I have discussed, at least briefly).

Within that scenario is a sidebar explaining the experimental device in the laboratory that the PCs find; there is a long, overly technical explanation of how to run it, and a bunch of stuff about how it ties into what the Ustlavan Venture Captain was doing with the BBEG, and why the BBEG went after him. All this information is drowned out by the "noise" of the block of text. I say "noise" because that block of text is completely meaningless to the mechanics of the game. Ultimately, a linguistics and/or knowledge roll and a subsequent disable device roll are all that's needed to solve the thing without going into explanations. So, I think a lot of GMs simply skim over this part, as it has the feel of reading a math textbook. Now, because they know the story from having read the beginning of the adventure, they don't think to themselves, "How do I make sure to get the story across to the party?"

The result of this? The GM ends up barely covering this during game play. Players therefore have no idea what's going on, have no clue what's ahead of them, and Darkest Vengeance has gained a reputation as a "party killer."

Unfortunately, there is no way to write a rule that says, "Do your job" without making it draconian. GMs feel they ARE doing their jobs. Some may be wrong, but until they get feedback about that they will have no idea. Most, I think, are fine, if not exceptional. But every single one will read different things into different words. That, too, is human nature.

Edit: If you want a good example of how much some scenarios can inspire the cry for "Change it!" you should check out the Shades of Ice series of scenarios. There were a lot of stars discussing a lot of borderline changes to those three scenarios (including me, by the way - though I hope I never crossed the line).

And I "get" what you're doing. The changes suggested in those threads likely went a long way toward making them more fun for players. But that means that reviews that were left for them were not necessarily accurate. So, yeah, it's a good discussion to have. I just don't want to see more rules imposed on this than are already there (and, as I mentioned, they're newly written for this season's Guide).

Another Edit: Grammar. Still can't help it...


Avatar-1 wrote:

All good Drogon. I don't want to push it because it was only what I thought was a good example (and probably not so good now that you've fleshed it out), just want to sort out a standard.

PFCBG - I'll be the first one to say we shouldn't put down rules to the nth degree, but the whole game is rules, and I think this one just hasn't been specific enough. I've seen many different tables that don't run games that don't seem close enough to what's written and I don't think it's GMs abusing the rule, I think it's a misunderstanding of what's expected which is causing that widespread table variation on something that seems straightforward... but maybe isn't.

Avatar,

The issue that I have is that there are so many threads started with the good intention of clarity, however, the only thing that comes out of those threads is generally more mis-understanding and ill feelings towards others on the boards. I think at some point we as a community has to say, enough is enough, let's play the game and see if things are actually broken before we start complaining and asking for re-calls on things.

While I see the good intention from this thread, I also see a request for a borg-like community. And to be honest, the instant the devs/campaign staff state that I have to run a game the exact same as everyone else is the day I stop GMing. I don't think or act like anyone else and I cannot GM like anyone else.

We all Gm to our strengths; the greatest thing we've gotten as GMs (imo) is the ability to be flexible according to the table that we are running at the time. Sure we have guidelines, but that doesn't mean that we have to connect nose hooks to the players the instant they sit down at the table so that we can lead them through the scenario by the nose. Within that GMing to our strenths there is always always going to be table variation.

I'm not a huge role-play person, I prefer combats -- so for me a role-play heavy intensive scenario is harder to run and is going to be inherently different that someone that excells at role-play and is able to draw out those areas of the scenario.

I personall don't see anything wrong with changing map orientation, tweaking the location of the fight -- if it would naturally go to that area (such as from the barn to the courtyard). I don't see that as gamebreaking, I see that as trying to be flexible within the given constraints of the scenario.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I wonder what level of hell the boards are in from all the clarity threads.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

^^^ That's pretty well what I think. Except that I like role playing (-:

Sovereign Court 5/5 RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I wonder what level of hell the boards are in from all the clarity threads.

Given all the rules-lawyering, I'd say the Third level


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:


While I see the good intention from this thread, I also see a request for a borg-like community. And to be honest, the instant the devs/campaign staff state that I have to run a game the exact same as everyone else is the day I stop GMing. I don't think or act like anyone else and I cannot GM like anyone else.

I have heard this sentiment frequently (and am still relatively new to PFS). GMs don't want to be machines.

I think if PFS pushed for "RAW or else!" there'd be a drop in GMs, and a drop in fun for those GMs left.
Not good for PFS at all.
Though we see examples where GMs have overstepped, I'm banking that those are rare exceptions. The odd examples can be addressed (and perhaps rectified in the case of death), but I doubt it'd be worth our time to start policing RAW when our energies can be better spent elsewhere.
Fun first. Respect the rules. Respect the scenarios.

That said, I would like an avenue where scenario errors could be officially corrected.

Thank you,
JMK

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

I'm definitely with PFCBG on this - this isn't a big enough issue to worry about, and any "fix" would probably introduce more problems than it solves.

I'm probably a bit closer to strict RAW than a lot of the GMs I see at our local conventions. But that doesn't stop me having a good time playing at their tables, and AFAIK they enjoy playing at mine.

I've only once bothered to mention to a GM that I'd noticed him deviating from RAW, and that was as a joke; there are two scenarios that both make use of the same flip-mat (although not to represent the same location). When I played one of those scenarios at his table there was a trap in one part of the location that was supposed to be there in the other scenario, but not in the one we were playing (although, of course, I didn't discover that until I was preparing to run those scenarios myself).

Details:

Scenario 1: City of Strangers, part 1

Scenario 2: Sewer Dragons of Absalom

Flip-Mat: Theater

Trap: The trick floor sections on the central aisle


Quote:
We all Gm to our strengths; the greatest thing we've gotten as GMs (imo) is the ability to be flexible according to the table that we are running at the time. Sure we have guidelines, but that doesn't mean that we have to connect nose hooks to the players the instant they sit down at the table so that we can lead them through the scenario by the nose. Within that GMing to our strenths there is always always going to be table variation.

Amen.

Scarab Sages

Well if we HAVE TO run as written, can we get some scenarios that aren't ridiculously easy? I just played a scenario that was "played up" from tier 1-2 to tier 4-5 (average character level 3) and the party smoked it without taking more then 10 points of damage.

So far, what I've seen is "as written" means; "marshmellow walk through." The only thing that keeps it interesting is the role playing parts (incidently the only part of the adventure that I can ad lib for dramatic effect.)

Maybe give GMs a point spread they can spend to "tweak" an encounter?

Maybe give GMs the ability to change one feat on an NPC?

Maybe give GMs the ability to add/subtract identical enemies depending on how easy/hard it is for the party?

Silver Crusade

To be fair, Cole, (1) we had a very powerful party, and (2) were it not for a poor roll by Preston in the last round, my character would have been bleeding out. She took 18 damage in those two rounds and was quite lucky to not take 8 more.

Scarab Sages

The Fox wrote:
To be fair, Cole, (1) we had a very powerful party, and (2) were it not for a poor roll by Preston in the last round, my character would have been bleeding out. She took 18 damage in those two rounds and was quite lucky to not take 8 more.

Fox, we had an average party from my experience. Most Players min/max their toons and they are just too much for NPCs. The balance just isn't there. There needs to be an official (since people will otherwise complain) for GMs to tweak the adventures to make them more balanced with optimized characters.

Silver Crusade

The game you ran the other day was scary tough. That seemed more in line with what I would consider an average party.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cole Cummings wrote:
Most Players min/max their toons and they are just too much for NPCs. The balance just isn't there. There needs to be an official (since people will otherwise complain) for GMs to tweak the adventures to make them more balanced with optimized characters.

What happens when your definition of optimized is different than mine?

What happens when a GM is given a table of 2 "optimized" characters and 2 characters who were built for social encounters "because that's what's fun for us"?

What happens when the tweaks you made due to the party being "optimized" suddenly become overwhelming simply due to the way the dice fall?

Most players DO NOT min/max their characters. Most players are in the game to have fun with their fellow players. Fun, for players, is getting to see the story and play the game without getting annihilated by GMs who are "out to get the optimizers." It is impossible to give GMs any more leeway than they already have without tipping the scale in a decidedly unfriendly way.


Drogon wrote:
Cole Cummings wrote:
Most Players min/max their toons and they are just too much for NPCs. The balance just isn't there. There needs to be an official (since people will otherwise complain) for GMs to tweak the adventures to make them more balanced with optimized characters.

What happens when your definition of optimized is different than mine?

What happens when a GM is given a table of 2 "optimized" characters and 2 characters who were built for social encounters "because that's what's fun for us"?

What happens when the tweaks you made due to the party being "optimized" suddenly become overwhelming simply due to the way the dice fall?

Most players DO NOT min/max their characters. Most players are in the game to have fun with their fellow players. Fun, for players, is getting to see the story and play the game without getting annihilated by GMs who are "out to get the optimizers." It is impossible to give GMs any more leeway than they already have without tipping the scale in a decidedly unfriendly way.

Exactly ... while others may (and probably will) disagree, I think we are at a pretty good happy medium. We have some flexibility without giving into those that over-optimize their characters. Once the campaign staff gives in those of us in the majority that don't will have fewer and fewer fun games and eventually just won't play.

When you have a society based social game you have to try and balance it for everyone. Unfortunately for those that decide to over-optimize they no longer fit into that balance, but I think they make their characters on purpose that way. I don't see the need to give into them and ruin the game for the majority.

Silver Crusade

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:


When you have a society based social game you have to try and balance it for everyone. Unfortunately for those that decide to over-optimize they no longer fit into that balance, but I think they make their characters on purpose that way. I don't see the need to give into them and ruin the game for the majority.

I agree. And I am the one with a highly optimized character.

Not all of my characters are optimized, however. I prefer to have the challenge level set by my choice of character than by the GM who may not have ever seen what my character can or cannot do.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for tough games. Cole, if you ever want to run a killer dungeon one-shot, let me know. I'm in! But that isn't what I look for in PFS.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Pertinent to this discussion I think is the fact that GMs are supposed to "lose" in order for everyone else to have fun.

If, instead, you find that you are competitive and have a need to win, then GMing (and likely role playing games, in general) are not for you. Luckily, there are tons of good choices for other fun games, many of them games where you can happily pursue the goal of crushing your opponents.

Silver Crusade

Drogon wrote:

Pertinent to this discussion I think is the fact that GMs are supposed to "lose" in order for everyone else to have fun.

If, instead, you find that you are competitive and have a need to win, then GMing (and likely role playing games, in general) are not for you. Luckily, there are tons of good choices for other fun games, many of them games where you can happily pursue the goal of crushing your opponents.

I'm not sure if that was directed at Cole in particular, or the group at large. Having played in games that he has run, I can say that Cole gets it. I don't think that he wants to make scenarios more challenging out of any sense of competition. I believe he just wants to make them more challenging.

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

3 people marked this as a favorite.

A concept that seems to get lost in all the talk about optimization, power-gaming, social gaming, RAW, etc. is that (1) all of us chose to play, and (2) we know the general level of difficulty of the average scenario. So, when building your character, keep that in mind. If your PC will "break" the game because it is too powerful, or too "gimped", or too specialized, whatever, then take a moment to consider how it will impact everyone's fun-o-meter. Take into account the GM's limitations with the RAW expectation.

I am always befuddled when presented with a PC that is an extreme build (good/bad) that makes it impossible for the GM to RAW without it becoming an auto-success/failure fest. Even moreso when the player clearly knows their PC is what it is and seems to take pleasure in, or has no empathy for, ruining everyone else's fun.

As players, we have a lot more control than some seem to suggest in assisting the GM with the RAW expectation. The rules to make game-breaking characters are there. Just ask yourself if the character you built is going to be disruptive or "steal" the fun from other players.

Explore! Report! Cooperate!

Scarab Sages

Was it? Did you feel elation and a sense of accomplishment after the adventure was over?

Here's why (The Veteran's Vault spoilers):

:
The Globsters were a screw up. They were Tier 4-5. I didn't realize my mistake till halfway through the combat. Too late to go..oops...reset (it would have ruined the drama of the moment). So I just adjusted their hit points and had them hit less often. Still intense but less dangerous.
I also allowed you to rest after the fight. Which, as written, I shouldn't have allowed you to do really, not without getting attacked during the rest because you were in a traffic area for the gremlins.

The Lightning arcs in the fungus garden? Added from Tier 4-5 to make it scarier. Had no intention of actually hitting you guys with it. it was just to make you feel like you were in real danger. The monster in that area you killed in one shot as I recall (crit hit).

In the last battle the scenario as written has her running around through the "caltrop" like stuff on the floor. However there was no chance in that small of a space for her to move without getting caught and provoking. As written she would have gotten maybe two spells off before the combat was over from multiple attacks of op from movement and spell casting in combat. As it was she managed to get off three and a spell-like ability before she was down. Any spell caster "boss" needs something between her and the party to start with. I ran that encounter "as written". Was it a bit of a let down after the intensity of the Globster fight? I thought so. Cinematicly the final confrontation turned into an anecdote.

GMs need to have the reigns slacked a bit to make it fun for Them. We're not robots. Well, some of us are, but not me. I'm a story teller. I want my stories to be engrossing. I try to pull my players into the story and create real emotional response. Pathfinder is more then a board game.

That said I realize there needs to be fair rules for GMs to be able to change things as needed to enhance the experience while keeping the rules lawyers happy.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

The Fox wrote:
Drogon wrote:

Pertinent to this discussion I think is the fact that GMs are supposed to "lose" in order for everyone else to have fun.

If, instead, you find that you are competitive and have a need to win, then GMing (and likely role playing games, in general) are not for you. Luckily, there are tons of good choices for other fun games, many of them games where you can happily pursue the goal of crushing your opponents.

I'm not sure if that was directed at Cole in particular, or the group at large. Having played in games that he has run, I can say that Cole gets it. I don't think that he wants to make scenarios more challenging out of any sense of competition. I believe he just wants to make them more challenging.

No. Sorry. Certainly not directed at anyone specific. Just a general comment about something that I think people lose sight of.

Scarab Sages

Drogon wrote:

Pertinent to this discussion I think is the fact that GMs are supposed to "lose" in order for everyone else to have fun.

If, instead, you find that you are competitive and have a need to win, then GMing (and likely role playing games, in general) are not for you. Luckily, there are tons of good choices for other fun games, many of them games where you can happily pursue the goal of crushing your opponents.

HA! Ha! yeah...GMs are supposed to lose. I know that. It's only annoying to me when I feel like my losing has stolen the moment from the fun of the players. A too easy encounter can be just as blah as losing the fight.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Cole Cummings wrote:
Drogon wrote:

Pertinent to this discussion I think is the fact that GMs are supposed to "lose" in order for everyone else to have fun.

If, instead, you find that you are competitive and have a need to win, then GMing (and likely role playing games, in general) are not for you. Luckily, there are tons of good choices for other fun games, many of them games where you can happily pursue the goal of crushing your opponents.

HA! Ha! yeah...GMs are supposed to lose. I know that. It's only annoying to me when I feel like my losing has stolen the moment from the fun of the players. A too easy encounter can be just as blah as losing the fight.

Agreed. There are moments when I'm running an encounter that I think, "Why did I bother with this?" But that's when I have to remember that I wasn't there to win.

For what it's worth, I am a good example of what I described. I'm incredibly competitive. I can turn a game of Apples to Apples into a stress-filled desire to come out on top. I regularly have to pause and think about exactly what I'm playing, and what the goals of any particular gaming session are. The goal of a role playing game, as others have pointed out, is largely to socialize. I try to win at that aspect, instead of on the combat field.

Silver Crusade

Cole Cummings wrote:

Was it? Did you feel elation and a sense of accomplishment after the adventure was over?

Actually Cole, no. I have known for a while about the Tier 4-5 thing. I was rather annoyed if you must know. But since you brought it up...

This is exactly what people are trying to warn you against: putting the PCs up against too big of a challenge, then needing to dial the challenge back so that they don't die. That doesn't provide me with a sense of accomplishment. That provides me with a sense of "the GM wanted someone to drop to 0 hp, then declare us the winner." It provides me with a sense of "why am I even here if the GM just wants to tell stories?"

If you want to challenge my characters more, then I won't bring my paladin to your game. I will bring my monk. He has 5 hp, and uses shuriken.

Scarab Sages

The Fox wrote:
Cole Cummings wrote:

Was it? Did you feel elation and a sense of accomplishment after the adventure was over?

Actually Cole, no. I have known for a while about the Tier 4-5 thing. I was rather annoyed if you must know. But since you brought it up...

This is exactly what people are trying to warn you against: putting the PCs up against too big of a challenge, then needing to dial the challenge back so that they don't die. That doesn't provide me with a sense of accomplishment. That provides me with a sense of "the GM wanted someone to drop to 0 hp, then declare us the winner." It provides me with a sense of "why am I even here if the GM just wants to tell stories?"

If you want to challenge my characters more, then I won't bring my paladin to your game. I will bring my monk. He has 5 hp, and uses shuriken.

It was a MISTAKE Fox. I didn't do it on purpose. However I used "tweaking" to fix that mistake without stealing the moment from the players.

Alternatively I could have stopped the combat and reset. Apologized for my mistake and restarted the encounter with the party knowing that there was a monster there and that it was much weaker then the monster they were actually defeating.

Rules wise that's what I should have done.

Of course it would have sucked. Feeling of accomplishment ruined. Atmosphere ruined.

What's more important?


Hey guys ... I get that you're passionate about your positions, however, this may be something better taken to a private conversation :)

kk thanks.

Sovereign Court Owner - Enchanted Grounds, President/Owner - Enchanted Grounds

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:

Hey guys ... I get that you're passionate about your positions, however, this may be something better taken to a private conversation :)

kk thanks.

I dunno, PFCBG. I think this part:

Cole Cummings wrote:
It was a MISTAKE Fox. I didn't do it on purpose.

...is extremely relevant.

Cole is, by Fox's admission, a competent GM who "gets it." And yet, by Cole's own admission, he made a mistake.

Release any of the current "run as written" strictures, or make what leeway we have even more loose, and more mistakes will be made by less competent GMs (albeit by GMs who *think* they're fully competent).

This illustrates exactly what we're talking about in this thread, I think.

Silver Crusade

Purple Fluffy CatBunnyGnome wrote:

Hey guys ... I get that you're passionate about your positions, however, this may be something better taken to a private conversation :)

kk thanks.

It really is no big deal. I was discussing it as I thought it pertained to the topic at hand. I guess not.

1 to 50 of 128 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Organized Play / GM Discussion / Run as written All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.