Just to be clear


GM Discussion

Scarab Sages

I judged two games yesterday (Hydra Fang, Cybermage Dilemma - can you say deja-vu) and their were a pair of players with 4th level characters that claimed they had never been asked for the books or PDF for their powers.

I wanted to be clear - the person who is using the power needs to have the book or PDF (or copy of PDF if sharing a source with a family member). Or is it that someone at the table needs to have the book/pdf/copy?

I thought it was the former, but players at the table thought it was the latter. And I'm not at even 1 star yet.

These folk were strange because they didn't even know what book their powers were from - they just used a website that didn't include the book.

Grand Lodge

Often game coordinators do not have time to audit their players. If the coordinator is already familiar with the rules, they won't ask their players for the resource as it'd slow down game play.

The person using the feat or ability must have a hard copy or signatured pdf of the book where it's from.
It doesn't matter if a team member has the book, unless the team member is a family member or partner.

Players should be reminded that Archives of Nethys or D20pfsrd is not a legal resource to 'own' the feat or ability.

Scarab Sages

Andrei Buters wrote:

Often game coordinators do not have time to audit their players. If the coordinator is already familiar with the rules, they won't ask their players for the resource as it'd slow down game play.

The person using the feat or ability must have a hard copy or signatured pdf of the book where it's from.
It doesn't matter if a team member has the book, unless the team member is a family member or partner.

Players should be reminded that Archives of Nethys or D20pfsrd is not a legal resource to 'own' the feat or ability.

The power in question was an Oath of Vengance, and no one knew what book it was even in. I wanted to see it because I was not familiar with it.

Thank you for your answer

Liberty's Edge

The 'Oath's are from Ultimate Magic ( a lot of people assume its from one of the new smaller sourcebooks or players guide). Its quite a nice Oath.

My Paladin of Neshen gets very vengeful when he encounters those who go out of their way to make people suffer. ( Im purposely playing up his view that almost anyone can be redeemed but woe betide anyone who attempts to stop people having the chance to do so)

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

This happened to me at Gen Con, actually. I would have players sit down without any additional resources who had HeroLab character sheets generated that same day.

We need to make sure that all players have read the Guide to Organized Play, where it covers these sorts of things, so that situations like this can be avoided.

Shadow Lodge

Worth asking - how do people usually handle this situation when it comes up?

The PFS guide says they must have the resource, but not what to do in the meantime if they don't.

Educate, ignore-for-now and play on?

Silver Crusade

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Avatar-1 wrote:

Worth asking - how do people usually handle this situation when it comes up?

The PFS guide says they must have the resource, but not what to do in the meantime if they don't.

Educate, ignore-for-now and play on?

Situational on how experienced the player is and how long they've been active. The more stars and levels the heavier I lay down the law.

Liberty's Edge

Well you are supposed to say you cant use X or Y trait if you dont have book Z on you. In practice, i doubt this happens very often as the gm dosnt want to create any badwill 9which could in turn cause more drama). You would also possible have a feat collapse drama where the illegal feat causes other feats to be non usuable as they rely on the first feat.

At the session I ran on the Saturday gone I asked if people had a copy of the rulebook on them and the guide to organised play . I got a lot of people saying 'On my phone!' very quickly.. but I didnt ask to actually see it on their phone (should I have?){ Also.. how the frak could you ever read anything on that tiny screen?}

Im generally the only one locally who actually prints and binds the guide. There may be others but I dont see them then. If someone has to ask what 23 on the Day Job roll is, then its a sure sign that A) They dont have the guide B) Havnt bothered to read the guide or combine A and B.

And you have made me decide to audit before my next game!


Mike Bramnik wrote:

This happened to me at Gen Con, actually. I would have players sit down without any additional resources who had HeroLab character sheets generated that same day.

We need to make sure that all players have read the Guide to Organized Play, where it covers these sorts of things, so that situations like this can be avoided.

There was a sign posted at all the herolab stations that stated that the player needed to have the books for the options picked, however, there was generally only one lonewolf person there at a time and 4 stations. If someone new to using herolab and new to pfs was trying to create a character they may not have realized how to tell what options are from what book.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Indiana—Southern aka CanisDirus

Matthew Pittard wrote:

Well you are supposed to say you cant use X or Y trait if you dont have book Z on you. In practice, i doubt this happens very often as the gm dosnt want to create any badwill 9which could in turn cause more drama). You would also possible have a feat collapse drama where the illegal feat causes other feats to be non usuable as they rely on the first feat.

At the session I ran on the Saturday gone I asked if people had a copy of the rulebook on them and the guide to organised play . I got a lot of people saying 'On my phone!' very quickly.. but I didnt ask to actually see it on their phone (should I have?){ Also.. how the frak could you ever read anything on that tiny screen?}

Im generally the only one locally who actually prints and binds the guide. There may be others but I dont see them then. If someone has to ask what 23 on the Day Job roll is, then its a sure sign that A) They dont have the guide B) Havnt bothered to read the guide or combine A and B.

And you have made me decide to audit before my next game!

The biggest reason to make sure players have their books/pdfs with them is for situations when the player uses something that the GM isn't familiar with, rather than auditing, per se.

Liberty's Edge

Thanks Mike. I see it as a bit of both. You want them to own what they need to for their character and also so they know the rules by rote.

There is nothing worse than a player madly scrabbling through their book to see what the save is for Black Tentacles (there is none!). If you need to be flipping through the book to look something up, then you dont know the character well enough.

I use Herolab myself (with the books being on my ipad), making sure that the herolab option to display sourcebooks has been turned on for everything.

Now the addition of the inventory sheet is going to make things interesting. How it's used (properly or improperly) has been talked to death in another topic


Matthew Pittard wrote:


There is nothing worse than a player madly scrabbling through their book to see what the save is for Black Tentacles (there is none!). If you need to be flipping through the book to look something up, then you dont know the character well enough.

I find this is definitely not true, there is a massive amount of things to remember exactly.

Do you know exactly how magic jar works offhand? I have a character who casts the spell and it is complicated enough that I look and make sure every time I cast it

Liberty's Edge

CWheezy: No I dont, if Im the dm Ill have a print out if is for one of my monsters/npcs. Ill try and get familiar with it before I run that character / Monster. If its a pc, Ill expect them to know what the spell does and what save Ill need to roll for said monster as they cast it. not a mad dash to the the book to find out the save.

This is why If Im playing a Wizard/Sorc Ill print out the spell list in full from Herolab. Its got all of that there. Ill constantly be looking at the attack map, where a fireball/ other will need to be targeted. Waiting for my turn dosnt equate to .. do nothing until my name is called.

If you are playing without Herolab then you likely need to create your own quick list of what spells do, or use some tabs for your core rulebook. If you are using spells from other books then it would make sense to either create a word document and cut and paste stuff in or something similar.

Dark Archive 3/5

Something I do with tables of players I don't know (such as at conventions or really big games days) is make it part of my "This is how I GM..." speech. I go over a number of things about my style/preferences when running games.

It goes something like this:

"Please have any material for any rules ready and accessible for your character; if I don't know a rule and it isn't core, the burden is on you to produce the PDF or book in some form when I ask or we're not using it Searching for it eats up game time we don't have, so I need you to be prepared. I don't count d20pfsrd, because they often adjust rules for non-official errata on the boards and it relies on an internet connection that isn't guaranteed to work.

I often do get some people who balk at this, but I remind them I can't bring my whole gaming library with me just to GM; they should have material ready as part of having their character together. I also give a similar caveat on Summoning: Have your creature ready and built. If you don't have these, I will only allow creatures summoned as-is from their Beastiary entry. And so forth for higher level spell casters.

Most people understand when I make it clear the biggest issue here is game time: We can't stop combat for 10 minutes to look up rules when I want clarification on how something works.

Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

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Matthew Pittard wrote:

Thanks Mike. I see it as a bit of both. You want them to own what they need to for their character and also so they know the rules by rote.

There is nothing worse than a player madly scrabbling through their book to see what the save is for Black Tentacles (there is none!). If you need to be flipping through the book to look something up, then you dont know the character well enough.

I use Herolab myself (with the books being on my ipad), making sure that the herolab option to display sourcebooks has been turned on for everything.

It's a bit unfair to complain about people "not knowing their character well enough" when they have to turn to the book when you're using Hero Lab with the sourcebooks option. You are looking up the information just as much as the player who has to flip through the book: you've just found a much more efficient way to do it. Likewise for people who carry printouts of their spells and summonable critters.

None of these people have the information memorized: they have merely organized the information so that they can look it up simply and quickly.

And that is the real point, isn't it? Who cares if you have the information memorized and can recite it on command? All I ask is that you can get the information you need without bringing the game to a grinding halt.

It doesn't matter whether you use Hero Lab or the Spell Cards app or hundreds color coded sticky flags throughout your books. The only thing that matters is that you come up with the correct answer quickly.

The main reason I want to point out this distinction is that expecting players (and GMs) to have every single line of every book memorized is just plain unrealistic. Very few people can actually do this, and even fewer could do it without making it a full-time job. But almost everybody can come up with a method of organizing the information for faster reference.

Demanding that players memorize the rule set will only discourage new players and potentially drive veteran players away. More than once, I have heard people say that they would never be able to GM because they don't have the time and/or the ability to commit every single rule to memory. These unrealistic expectations make recruiting new GMs very, very difficult. And we always need more GMs.

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