Online games and auditing character sheets


Online Play

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rknop wrote:
Taking a picture is the easiest way to do it.

This.

I've got a smartphone from 2 years ago that has been discontinued and I can take pictures of chronicle sheets that are more than clear enough for a GM to read. Just use good lighting or your flash when taking the picture.

For those who need a place to store your chronicles online, PM me.

The Exchange

It is pretty obvious there is a market for something like a PlayerVault with easy upload buttons like on snapfish... get your image in any number of formats it accepts, hit a button, and it will convert and store it in a format that is easily browse-able. Add an easy organization system for each character in your account and one would be good to go.

Maybe some day Paizo can have one of their coding wizards build something like this into their GameSpace thingy (who knows, maybe it already exists)

Shadow Lodge

You need two separate sheets - one online and one offline.

I play online games primarily and in person only occasionally.

Every time I play using my text sheet (or PDF sheet in the rare case), I update it from Notepad or on a site. If I have to go play a game in person, I convert it to a new sheet or update the paper sheet. To start playing online, it's the same thing in reverse. Use 2 sheets, scanned copies aren't the only option. myth-weavers lets you write up sheets online, so does pfrpg.com.au where I mostly play.

As far as auditing goes, it is not practical to expect all players in the campaign to do full-on accounting every game and then managed by a GM. The rules state you're supposed to and there's a reasonable expectation that you should be on the ball, but you shouldn't be micromanaging to the second.

That hurts the game, and it's not fun.

Shadow Lodge

Also, if you're looking for a scanner on an Android phone, get CamScanner - works wonders and there's a free version that just does ads and puts a non-intrusive watermark on the PDF (or $5 to ditch those for a premium version).

Apparently it can add annotations as well, but I haven't figured out how yet. You'd think a phone scanner would have cropping/visibility problems, but it straightens it out and lets you watch it do it.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I'm floored that this is even an issue. You can't play in my tabletop game without a character sheet and you can't play in my online games without the same thing.

If you don't have Hero Lab or some other electronic character builder, I still expect you to type your character sheet somewhere I can see it. It isn't about trust - it's about running a fair game.

That said, I have never audited a player's sheet and would not do so unless I suspected foul play. And I would not appreciate a GM wanting to audit mine. Look over the character for proper build and rule-following? Fine. Audit my accounts? Get over yourself.


Tarondor wrote:

I'm floored that this is even an issue. You can't play in my tabletop game without a character sheet and you can't play in my online games without the same thing.

If you don't have Hero Lab or some other electronic character builder, I still expect you to type your character sheet somewhere I can see it. It isn't about trust - it's about running a fair game.

That said, I have never audited a player's sheet and would not do so unless I suspected foul play. And I would not appreciate a GM wanting to audit mine. Look over the character for proper build and rule-following? Fine. Audit my accounts? Get over yourself.

It's not so much having the character sheet available online. That, most people will have in electronic form anyway and it's easy enough to type in somewhere.

It's the Chronicles, since you get only a paper copy of those at most face to face games. And I assume GMs who want to check, don't want just the info typed in somewhere, but to see a copy of the original.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Yeah. That's just silly. I'd drop out of that game in a heartbeat.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

You wouldn't have to drop out. You wouldn't be allowed to pay in it in the first place, as the rules of PFS indicate that you have to make your chronicle sheets available to the GM, and the online VC has made very clear above that, yes, this also applies in online play.

It's not silly. It's simple respect for your GM.

Shadow Lodge

Chronicle sheets is another story (compared to character sheets).

If you don't have any way to scan it (either a scanner or CamScanner for Android phones), you're out of luck. Give the player the benefit of the doubt.


Avatar, if you're really hard pressed, a jpg photo of a chronicle is fine so long as it's readable. You can take it with a smartphone and then email it to yourself. Keep all your chronicles as an attachment to an email you've drafted on hotmail/gmail etc. Whenever someone wants to see them, you can email them.

Dark Archive

Yea...I will honestly admit that I am an offender of this.

Normally, I only play in-person and even with the few online sessions I've had, it never dawned on me to scan in all of my Chronicle sheets. But I totally agree that at the GM's request, or even just as a natural action before a game, all that paperwork should be available for the GM. Makes things easier.

Grand Lodge

A few years ago at gen con the GM audited every charter at the table. It would not have been that bad if it was not the Last session of the Con. I plaied the same guy most of the Con. So yea I looked like a tool  I did have a somewhat up to date herolab printed off since I thought I would have lev’d once that weekend. But since I had not spent anything at all I was a bit out of date. It set the whole table back about 45 min’s. it was the only table that weekend I was audited at.

I am sure if it was happened the whole weekend I would have been a bit more up to date. I still had a blast. See you all in a few weeks 

Grand Lodge

To me character sheets don't seem to be the issue. Chronicle sheets seem like the pain. If they were designed as a PDF form they could be then digitally signed and locked by the DM. With all of the options for cloud space (google drive/dropbox/box/etc.) any back and forth shouldn't be a problem. The idea handwriting scanning sending handwriting scanning sending seems unnecessarily tedious to me with all of the digital and online tools available.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

Many problems with that.

First, just the idea of bringing DRM in to your character record makes me shudder in horror. Fortunately, "locked" PDF files are easy to unlock, but still. (DRM in general does that for me, but for things that people are supposed to be filling out and handing out in short order? Yikes.)

Second, while this might work for pure online games, it doesn't do anything for characters that move back and forth between FtF and online games. There's no way around some kind of scanning if you're going to do that.

Third, if we assume the DRM actually functioned (and it would function enough to make things highly inconvenient for the less tech savvy), this would only work if GMs actually handed out signed and completed PDF files. In practice, in both face to face and online games, the GM hands out the chronicle sheet with the "GM only" sections filled out and signed, leaving it to the player to fill out the rest himself or herself later. No, this is not what you're supposed to do according to the rules. but it is the most common tactic.

Finally, it would be a pain for FtF games. Some sort of online-only solution might be ultimately a good idea-- not DRMed PDF files, but just an online record. However, requiring that FtF games be online in order to complete their character paperworks simply isn't a good idea. Not only does not everybody want to bring a computer or other device to the gaming table, frequently you'll be in a situation where you're playing but simply can't get online. (The PFS room at PaizoCon 2013 is an example.)

I think we're just stuck with some level of inconvenience. The truth is, in this day and age of almost everybody having a camera on their phone, library scanners, and so forth, it's not that bad.

Grand Lodge

Tarondor wrote:
Yeah. That's just silly. I'd drop out of that game in a heartbeat.

I did drop out of one before, and it put the table below four people in order to do it. I GM all the face-to-face games I am in, so my characters the past few months have been nothing but GM credit. However, the online GM said I Couldn't play if he couldn't see my sheets, and since I don't have a way to scan the sheets, take pictures of them and upload them, and the like I simply said "see ya".

Part of my problem with online play is that not everyone can upload the physical sheets to prove everything. Also, how do I prove I have the hardcopy books if I don't have a receipt to show you, or a webcam? I have a webcam, but I refuse to turn it on. Period.

The Exchange

You can go to FedEx / Office Depot / OfficeMax / etc. and pay next to nothing for them to create electronic scans. They can send them to your e-mail or you can ask them to put it on a flash drive.

As far as proving hardcopy books, you have to work that out with your GM. If you refuse to turn your webcam on, that's your own personal choice. It's still up to you to figure out how to prove you own the copies to your GM.

Grand Lodge

No doubt there are problems with it. I live in Asia and a %100 online player so don't really think about switching between online and f2f play. Actually all my stuff is digital at the moment. I have a weekly game with my friends back home on Roll20.

I guess I would just like to see more tools for making online PFS play easier. Someone posted a item tracking sheet in google docs which is pretty good (for example). I would like to see a way for chronicle sheets to go back and forth with out having to print and scan. I am surprised that Paizo doesn't just allow for the upload of chronicle sheets to the characters profile on the site. That would make them easily referable at any time.

BTW - I agree a DM has a right to ask for char. sheets before a game. Mine does and I respect that.

rknop wrote:

Many problems with that.

First, just the idea of bringing DRM in to your character record makes me shudder in horror. Fortunately, "locked" PDF files are easy to unlock, but still. (DRM in general does that for me, but for things that people are supposed to be filling out and handing out in short order? Yikes.)

Second, while this might work for pure online games, it doesn't do anything for characters that move back and forth between FtF and online games. There's no way around some kind of scanning if you're going to do that.

Third, if we assume the DRM actually functioned (and it would function enough to make things highly inconvenient for the less tech savvy), this would only work if GMs actually handed out signed and completed PDF files. In practice, in both face to face and online games, the GM hands out the chronicle sheet with the "GM only" sections filled out and signed, leaving it to the player to fill out the rest himself or herself later. No, this is not what you're supposed to do according to the rules. but it is the most common tactic.

Finally, it would be a pain for FtF games. Some sort of online-only solution might be ultimately a good idea-- not DRMed PDF files, but just an online record. However, requiring that FtF games be online in order to complete their character paperworks simply isn't a good idea. Not only does not everybody want to bring a computer or other device to the gaming table, frequently you'll be in a situation where you're playing but simply can't get online. (The PFS room at PaizoCon 2013 is an example.)

I think we're just stuck with some level of inconvenience. The truth is, in this day and age of almost everybody having a camera on their phone, library scanners, and so forth, it's not that bad.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber
0time wrote:
I am surprised that Paizo doesn't just allow for the upload of chronicle sheets to the characters profile on the site. That would make them easily referable at any time.

Well, yes... if you have Internet access. Which you really can't assume for every FtF game.

If we could assume that, it would make things so much nicer if it were done that way. But it would have not worked for PaizoCon 2013. Even if there had been wireless access we nomially use, with the number of people in that room all trying to use it at once, no hotel I have ever known would have come close to having its Internet infrastructure survive the load.

Shadow Lodge

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Joseph Caubo wrote:

You can go to FedEx / Office Depot / OfficeMax / etc. and pay next to nothing for them to create electronic scans. They can send them to your e-mail or you can ask them to put it on a flash drive.

As far as proving hardcopy books, you have to work that out with your GM. If you refuse to turn your webcam on, that's your own personal choice. It's still up to you to figure out how to prove you own the copies to your GM.

There's a problem with this line of thinking. It's not just about what players are technically able to do, it's about what lengths people are willing to go to just to play. If it gets to be too much trouble, people will opt out.

There has to be a goal of convenience factored in for the market we're talking about.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

How about the convenience of not having to pack your stuff up and drive to a game day? Where you just have to sit down at your computer with your PDF/JPG available if asked?

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

Yes, it's true, I've gamed in my bathrobe.

Shadow Lodge

TriOmegaZero wrote:
How about the convenience of not having to pack your stuff up and drive to a game day? Where you just have to sit down at your computer with your PDF/JPG available if asked?

How about the convenience of not having to game during nuclear war?

Kids these days.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

'Kids' he says.

The Exchange

Avatar-1 wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
How about the convenience of not having to pack your stuff up and drive to a game day? Where you just have to sit down at your computer with your PDF/JPG available if asked?

How about the convenience of not having to game during nuclear war?

Kids these days.

Wasn't aware that is currently an issue.

Dark Archive 2/5

Reading all the this thread makes me glad I use Fantasy Grounds as my VVT of choice. You have to have a electronic character sheet either made in the program or imported from hero lab or pc gen /the way the the character sheet is used in fantasy grounds makes the macros available in Roll20 seem primitive) and all the Gm's who play off the fantasy grounds boards insist on the most recent chronicle sheet being made available before the start of the gaming session. Perhaps this is a good practice the rest of the online community could adopt. If a player can't provide a character sheet and the most recent chronicle sheet are unlikely to be able to provide all thier previous chronicle sheets

Grand Lodge

My main concern is always going to be the validity of Chronicle sheets for online play. I've come across two players who have documented GMs claiming that online play sheets are not valid, as they are not "signed" in the conventional sense. This leads to problems down the line because legally, they have a Level X character, but a GM refuses to seat them on that premise. That isn't fair to them in the least.

My second issue deals with transferring real-life paper sheets to a digital format. One of my players does not have access to a way to scan or upload his sheets under normal circumstances, which has caused him to gravitate away from online play because of it.

Shadow Lodge

I think the way the Myth-Weavers group handles their PbP is amazing. Sure, there is a barrier for entry in having to scan documents and keep track of your character record, but the benefits of doing so are worth it. And as far as players saying "Screw this, it's too hard." Fine. There are others just waiting to take your place. Good record keeping is something that, once you get in the habit of doing it, you wonder how people get along without it.

As for a VTT game, if you make sending you copies of sheets and chronicles a requirement, and give them a reasonable amount of time to meet that requirement, I don't see why you shouldn't refuse that player a "seat" when it's time to game.

Some websites (including Myth-Weavers) have fillable xml character sheets. All you do is type in the information just like it appears on your paper sheet, save it, and you're good to go. You can even set the sheet to "Public View" and link to it.

As for a GM unwilling to seat a character that has been played online, report them to their local VC or to Mike Brock. Nothing makes an online sheet less valid that any other chronicle sheet. If there's an event code, a GM's signature, and a GM's number, then it's signed.

3/5

There are a lot of people out there who take their fun way too seriously...

Chronicle Sheets are not legal documents. And even if a player presents a sheet that is signed in ink there is no way for a GM to determine whether or not it was forged. As long as XP, Gold, Fame and purchases all line up there is no reason to disallow someone from sitting at your table because some (or all) of their sheets are scanned from online games. And of something does seem dodgy and the GM wants verification that these games took place, why not just call up the Sessions tab for that character on Paizo's site?


Deane Beman wrote:
There are a lot of people out there who take their fun way too seriously...

It is ironic. I think PFS, on the whole, has to walk that line between ensuring fairness and buzz-killing bureaucracy.

Shadow Lodge

So how long till the GMs have to provide evidence they checked the players own legit copies of the resources they use? All this talk, while barely affecting me at the moment, makes me lose the desire to play. Between "Online players should be inconvenienced somehow for being able to play from home" and "I want to obey the rules, because they are written, and not because they improve the quality of the game" I'm not quite sure where this is going.

And no, I can't get easy access to a scanner, not with people I know, or the town I live in. I don't have a car, so I don't have easy access to other towns. I do not have any way to access f2f games on a regular basis and now the online games are being made less accessible.

Now I feel like a valued customer!

And sure, losing players is no biggy... but what about all the GMs that have no desire to play book keeping? THAT will hurt the community a lot. Is it really worth it?

Reminds me of voter fraud laws. Trying to control a non existing problem.

3/5

N N 959 wrote:
Deane Beman wrote:
There are a lot of people out there who take their fun way too seriously...
It is ironic. I think PFS, on the whole, has to walk that line between ensuring fairness and buzz-killing bureaucracy.

I don't think fairness is the right term...although I don't want to get too deep into a tangent on the subject in this thread. I view nearly all RPGs as by and large cooperative games...it's the players vs. the game. (Which should not be interpreted as the players vs. the GM...heck that could wind up putting us out on another tangent!)

So if I'm sitting at a table with another player who has cheated the system somehow...maybe he has 10 extra GP because he doesn't keep of his ammunition and therefore never buys any...how does that detract from my enjoyment of the game?

Short answer...it doesn't. Or at least it shouldn't.

Don't get me wrong...I think we should all keep detailed and accurate records of our characters because (for me at least) the challenge of building my character within the limitations provided by the system is part of the fun. But we run the risk of taking things a bit too far when we stop just short of requiring the services of a notary public to ensure our chronicle sheets are valid.

Grand Lodge

Heh. Playing on what I posted previously, I was just denied a seat at a table because all my sheets for my character have me as the GM for the games. Apparently now GM credit is a sketchy thing...

Liberty's Edge 5/5 Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—Chester aka Paz

Quendishir wrote:
Heh. Playing on what I posted previously, I was just denied a seat at a table because all my sheets for my character have me as the GM for the games. Apparently now GM credit is a sketchy thing...

Wait, what? Was this a face-to-face game or VTT?

3/5

Quendishir wrote:
Heh. Playing on what I posted previously, I was just denied a seat at a table because all my sheets for my character have me as the GM for the games. Apparently now GM credit is a sketchy thing...

Good gravy.

Grand Lodge

Paz wrote:
Quendishir wrote:
Heh. Playing on what I posted previously, I was just denied a seat at a table because all my sheets for my character have me as the GM for the games. Apparently now GM credit is a sketchy thing...
Wait, what? Was this a face-to-face game or VTT?

It was a VTT. I took my leave, didn't make an issue out of it.

Shadow Lodge

Well, it obviously is an issue. What the heck? How can GM credit be an issue? "I don't believe you GMed"?

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

It would be interesting to hear from the GM in question about his version of what happened.

Grand Lodge

rknop wrote:
It would be interesting to hear from the GM in question about his version of what happened.

I'm honestly not sure what his "version" could be.

He asked to see my Chronicle sheets. I provided them. He then made a fuss that my first nine sheets are all for games I GM'd and made a deal about it. Two people mentioned that it wasn't uncommon, he didn't like it (I believe his words were along the lines of, "No one only GMs, everyone plays at some point"). So I took my leave.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

He'd have a fit over my characters.

29 player sessions, 68 GM sessions.

Shadow Lodge

"No one only GMs"? I know plenty GMs who barely get to play and have multiple characters made (almost) entirely out of GM credit.

Turning away someone who GMs a lot and rarely gets to play is a great way to harm the community. Kudos for that.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Regardless of the truth, accusations don't help the discussion.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

I've deleted my messages. I do not want to engaged with this. Just be cautious about taking what everybody says at face value.


Deane Beman wrote:

So if I'm sitting at a table with another player who has cheated the system somehow...maybe he has 10 extra GP because he doesn't keep of his ammunition and therefore never buys any...how does that detract from my enjoyment of the game?

Short answer...it doesn't. Or at least it shouldn't.

If you play enough MMO's you begin to understand the fairness mandate in RPG games. It is a by-product of the requirement that things be "balanced." The answer is simple:

Unbalanced characters trivializes other characters. The more unbalanced they are, the greater and broader the trivialization. If those 10 extra gold pieces allows you to buy something so that you can not only do the things you're good at, but do the things I'm good at, I'm having less fun than I should.

The reason the answer is simple, is more complicated :)


N N 959 wrote:
Deane Beman wrote:

So if I'm sitting at a table with another player who has cheated the system somehow...maybe he has 10 extra GP because he doesn't keep of his ammunition and therefore never buys any...how does that detract from my enjoyment of the game?

Short answer...it doesn't. Or at least it shouldn't.

If you play enough MMO's you begin to understand the fairness mandate in RPG games. It is a by-product of the requirement that things be "balanced." The answer is simple:

Unbalanced characters trivializes other characters. The more unbalanced they are, the greater and broader the trivialization. If those 10 extra gold pieces allows you to buy something so that you can not only do the things you're good at, but do the things I'm good at, I'm having less fun than I should.

The reason the answer is simple, is more complicated :)

10 extra gold isn't likely to be a problem. Hundreds or even thousands for not tracking used consumables, wands, potions etc, is more of an issue.


thejeff wrote:
10 extra gold isn't likely to be a problem. Hundreds or even thousands for not tracking used consumables, wands, potions etc, is more of an issue.

Please note the part about it being a matter of degree.

3/5

Comparing MMOs to pen & paper RPGs is hardly a valid comparison. There is no "economy" to speak of in PFS; and outside of the scenarios we play together our characters have, at best, an extraordinarily minimal affect on one another.


Deane Beman wrote:
Comparing MMOs to pen & paper RPGs is hardly a valid comparison.

If we were talking about 1st Edition, I would agree. However, when Turbine coded D&D Online, they used the 3.5 rule set. In fact, one of their explicit goals was to duplicate the experience of people sitting at the table playing D&D. The problems faced by MMO's, in many cases, are identical to those faced by Organized Play campaigns. The same issues of fairness arise and the same psychology applies to both formats.

Quote:
There is no "economy" to speak of in PFS; and outside of the scenarios we play together our characters have, at best, an extraordinarily minimal affect on one another.

This response confuses me, so perhaps it's because my explanation wasn't clear.

Both MMO's and OP systems need to keep player/character efficacy within a specific range based on the character's in-game progress. With an MMO, you can code hard limits in many cases, but when you introduce loot to the game, it becomes a lot harder. PFS and most MMOs allow the purchase of items which increase one's efficacy. So neither system wants players cheating to acquire more resources than they should have per character game progression.

If one player cheats and acquires a bunch of stuff they shouldn't have, they can become so powerful that they can effectively solo the scenario. So even though one might argue having such an ally in your party should be a positive, people don't view it that way. What they see is that their character and their decisions/actions as a player are irrelevant to the outcome of the scenario. If one player, through cheating, can out tank, out damage, out skill, and out magic everyone else, then only one person has fun. This kills the community's growth.

So in an OP campaign, someone has to be the gatekeeper in making sure players aren't cheating and then trivializing other players. The Chronicle Sheet and ITS put that responsibility in the hands of the GM.

Now, there is the adage about paying dimes to chase pennies or penny wise, pound foolish. So one can legitimately ask if there is a threshold below which we don't care if the player cheats. But the problem with thresholds, imo, is that they leave the door open to exploitation. Mike said we don't have to track items below 25gp on the ITS. What if I purchase 10 Alchemist Fire's on my GM Credit character? Can I just say I purchased 1 per scenario and not list them? If they are not listed does that mean they don't have to be tracked? Does that mean we can always get any items below 20 gp for free etc. etc.

EDIT:
The other thing I forgot to mention is that cheating also devalues the game for the person cheating. So allowing someone to cheat can potentially foreshorten that players commitment to the game.

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