You know what they say about GMing for friends... More adventures of a noob GM


Advice


I guess it's true -- sometimes, friends don't make good players. Long post here, please refrain from responding until you've read the full post.

Well, if some of you have been following along and reading my posts, you'll know that I started running RotRL a week ago -- my first game as GM. I was excited to begin; I love RPGs, I love fantasy, I've fallen in love with PF's systems and adjusted from D&D with no problem. The chance to finally GM a game for my friends and show them how awesome a P&P game can be was too good to pass up.

So we ran our first session. We played for about three and a half hours, got some stuff done, and made it up to the beginning of part 2 of Burnt Offerings. Things were difficult at first, keeping my players in check and making sure no one was talking over everyone. I was concerned no one really cared about the game as much as me. You can check my other posts for details on that.

This past Saturday, we played our second session. It was a marathon session (much to my chagrin), playing for nearly 8 hours in my home. I would say the first hour and a half or two hours went very well. My players were engaged, actively participating in the roleplay, talking to NPCs, gathering information, making awesome assumptions about RotRL that took them into unexpected territories -- I had some opportunities for improvising some encounters -- and all was well.

Until the power gamer/rules lawyer/rules-maker-upper (that's a thing, right?) in my group finally showed his true colors. He started by obtaining a permit to run a business in Sandpoint from the Mercantile League -- that was great, perfectly acceptable. He managed to bluff the pants off (not literally) the clerk at the counter for the permit. Nothing inherently wrong with this and I was glad he was getting into character. I'll get back to this guy here in a minute.

The next hour and a half, after the first two hours had gone so well, were a slog. My players kept cracking jokes OOC in the middle of scenes. They kept talking over each other and cutting each other off. One of my players basically railroaded the entire crew into what he wanted to do (investigate a red herring). He didn't give the other players chance to speak, much of time time (granted, I could have done more to mitigate this -- it's a learning process). Then he stopped the game so he could order pizza (interrupting the flow of the game and stopping mid-RP). Then while he was on the phone, two of my players got up to smoke. We got back to playing, and the player who ordered pizza realized he forgot to order a bottle of soda, for which there was no need, because I had bought two 12 packs, and he had brought a 2 liter (at this point I'm irritated). Everyone had been drinking beer... the night was slowly deteriorating into... a bunch of dudes sitting around drinking beer and soda and eating pizza. We had about 45 minutes of greasy napkins and paper plates occupying the playing space. This is okay, I said, I can deal with this, I said.

I got them mostly back on track, though the game at this point had been going for a few hours and the initial enthusiasm for the session was gone. That being said, they were still interested in playing. Finally, when it came time for loot, the power gamer made himself known. Now, I know this player and his modus operandi. He's sneaky and charismatic and could sell ice to an Eskimo. He managed to convince the rest of the party to give him 20% each of their shares of the loot so that he could use it to eventually set up a shop in town. I tried explaining that this would unbalance the wealth and could create bigger problems when they start needing magic items; that everything has a set price based on it's properties and that every encounter has a set loot amount based on the challenge; they wouldn't listen. I realize it's my game to do what I want with. I want to follow the WBL and encounter CR guidelines and this is going to create issues if the players don't have the WBL they need.

Then, this player told me, the GM, that he could sell all these items (that he is essentially stealing from his party members) at 100% of their value, since now he's a merchant and is selling the items at retail. I stared at him for a couple minutes and didn't say anything. Then I told him it was 50% of value for player sold items (plus any adjustments for feats, traits, boons, and skills, of which he has a few), and he threw a fit. I tried to find rules for this but the best I could come up with was the downtime rules from Ultimate Campaign, which don't translate into what he's looking to do. I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with this since if I don't let him get his way, it's got potential to ruin the game and possibly our friendship. At this point, sometimes it feels like playing the game isn't worth it since my players insist on making up things as they go along and demand that they get their way.

Anyway, I've written enough. There was more I was going to say but having recalled all that has only furthered my disappointment in my game and my group. I understand that some of the things I'm having trouble with are a result of me being an inexperienced GM, and that I've got to do a better job of GMing without railroading them or telling them what to do, not that I have been. I really want to be a great GM for them and I think my intentions are good -- I don't want to be the evil controlling GM who traps the players at every turn because he left out some important detail and then says, "Hah! You didn't perception check, now suffer the consequences!"

There were certain points when my players were making decisions and talking amongst themselves that I was absolutely beaming as GM, knowing that I had done a good job of providing them with information and good RP options so they could make an informed decision on what to do next in the plot. These moments were rare, but awesome.

I've realized that, despite talking with all of them before the game and getting their agreement on the type of game we're going to play, my players aren't actually looking to play the same type of game that I'm looking to run. It's unfortunate, but I guess that's the way the dice fall sometimes. I'm going to keep running the game for my friends but maybe drastically lower my expectations and stop putting in so much effort. In the meantime, I'm going to start looking for a regular group that I can play with who take the game a bit more seriously. Then again, maybe those few beaming, awesome moments I mentioned just a minute ago are all worth the effort.

Grand Lodge

My last group that I gamed with over 10 years ended up breaking up over stuff like you have stated, so at least you have the comfort that this kind of thing can happen to anyone, not just new players.

A possible work around to the "sell everything at 100% cost" would be to cut the loot they receive in half. I know "sticking it to them" kind of sucks, but it sounds like you've tried talking to the player in question already so if you wish to continue playing this is an option. It will suck because overall they will get less loot, because with the sell at 50% rule any gear you find and actually use doubles its worth. So since you cut in half to avoid over inflation of loot, they get the same amount as they would if they sold everything, and less if they use everything.

Having a marathon session as your second session as new players is very taxing, as you have experienced. Also remember, you're the GM. So you could have the government show up and close down his shop for not following the specific laws, or have it burnt down. Also if he really wants to get into it over the rules, pull out the city rules. Sandpoint can only sell so much in a given period of time. Let him sell the loot for 100% but tell him it could take months or even years until he finds a buyer for stuff. Just because it's up for sale doesn't mean anyone with the means to buy it will come along any time soon, if ever.

I feel your pain, but the tl;dr is talk to the player in question and see if you can work it out. Talk to him about game balance and what you'll have to do to make sure it all works out, since it is a pre-written campaign.


It's sad to hear about when things dont go as hoped, but I can understand your concern. I myself am A fairly green GM, and I've mostly been running oneshots in the "dungeon world" system. Pathfinder is pretty intimidating, so I'll admit I dont feel ready to GM for it yet. I really want to, but I have to say I'll probably avoid marathon sessions, I think 3-4 hours is my maximum.

I know this may end up causing other problems, but you can always check out "roll20.net" if you want to find another group. It's an online tabletop for pnp rpgs. I found my main pathfinder group there and am having a lot of fun (our DM will try to work with any third-party books as long as we buy them for him, and he lets use use weird things like the race builder and construct creation (at his discretion)). Generally you can express the kind of game you want to play beforehand, and it will attract the desired type of players.

Another useful tool to track players: myth-weavers. It's a website for online character sheets (there is pathfinder there) that all the games I've played online.

Good luck with your GM-ing.


I feel your pain.

That said, you made a rookie mistake: You assumed that just because the players are your friends, that they are interested in the same kind of game you are. When I go out to start or join a game, I have learned to ask what the point of the game is going to be. Will it be RP-heavy? Will it be combat-heavy? How "on-the-rails" will it be? (Published adventures are moreso.)

Moving forward, you can try to salvage this group by having this conversation with them, as a whole, rather than confronting one person or another. Explain what you're looking for in the game, and be clear about those expectations. In particular, be clear that you'll be GMing the game you want to GM, and if they don't want to play in that game, then they don't have to, and there won't be consequences for the friendship. Offer them a way to back out of the game while saving face.

If you don't have this conversation now, it's likely that your game will implode down the road. Be clear, be honest, and have the conversation now - it may be hard, but it'll be to your benefit in the long run.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Beer is typically not a good idea.
People need pauses to function well. Once every hour or so, really.
Make sure the calorie breaks are planned before you start playing.
Keep play time down for unexperienced players. Four hours is A LOT.
Be clear on what you want from the game with the players. If their goals of playing the game differ from yours, conflict WILL arise.

And hey... don't give up. Learn.


el cuervo wrote:

... I would say the first hour and a half or two hours went very well...

Everyone had been drinking beer...

There is your issue. We learned a LONG time ago. Alchohol and P&P rarely mix. If you want a serious game you need to ban/limit it. For a silly one shot game, beer is fine. It can make for a fun night of everyone hanging out and drinking. But your not going to have a serious game.

Notice how the first 2 hours went smooth... then it started to derail. You can chalk that up to the beer.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Unfortunately this soinds like a people problem more then anything else. You might want to try sticking to shorter sessions, so people dont get side tracked. I mean in an 8 hour session, a break for food and smokes is reasonable, not everyone is going to be up for that.

That said, the money = power issue in pathfinder and dnd is a problem in and of itself. I use a set of house rules that divorce money from power. The vast majority of the power magic gear gives players is replaced with built in bonuses, and permanent magic items cant be crafter normally and are pricesless. In such a situation you cant try to 'game the system' by gaining extra money. All money can get you is wands, scrolls and potions, useful, but not game changing.

I'm actually using it for a RotRL campaign and its going well if you are interested. But I certainly understand the struggle with this sort of behavior.

My advice, stick to your guns, the downtime system is what is supposed to happen here. He's not supposed to be able to nearly double his money by opening a shop, and ofcourse, that doesnt guarantee anyone is willing to BUY these items. Sandpoint is a relatively small town, he might open the shop, but if no one is there to buy the stuff, it wont make a difference. The downtime rules are a good abstraction of this sort of thing. Use them, if he doesnt like it tough. And if this actually messes with your friendship, I would seriously consider the nature of your friendship to begin with.

If you want to be passive aggressive about it, you can always let him spend the money to open the shop (costs for such are listed in the downtime system and it can be translated directly into coin), and then, no customers. No one wants to buy that ring of jumping or whatever. So no money. Let him learn his lesson that way. But I honestly think being direct and honest is the best way to go about it, possibly with a conversation away from the table.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I'm going to stand up for beer. As long as nobody's getting stupid drunk, there's nothing wrong with it. We normally play with beer, wine, mead, and/or whiskey. But we also drink in moderation - typically nobody's drinking more than a 2-3 drinks an evening, which includes dinner.

Table cross talk is a normal feature of gaming, particularly for long sessions. As long as you manage to keep it relatively contained, you're probably fine. Attention wanders, nobody's going to pay super close attention to you the whole time. Just keep them coming back with interesting stuff going on. Take short breaks of 10-15 minutes every 2-3 hours.

Every group plays a bit differently. If your players like a beer and pizza game, who are you to stop them from playing that way? If you're the only one at all upset by that, let go of being upset and go with it.

The power gamer is your main problem and, if what you're relating here is a reasonably accurate description as seen from a 3rd party, he will continue to be your biggest problem. I would suggest explaining to him that there's a good reason PCs get half value on used and looted magic items and gear - it's an abstract method of playing out all of the shopping of gear around in a short time frame and settles on a roughly average price you'd be able to get across all the things you're selling figuring you'd do better on some items, worse on others and you're not spending time trying to find absolutely the best prices. If he wants to try to sell items at 100% value, he's going to have wait for the buyers to come and that means it'll be at the GM's discretion if it happens at all. He is, however, free to try to spend whatever he wants to try to market the items far and wide across Varisia - maybe that'll help...


"Yes you can put a price tag of the 100% value of 18 bazillion gps on the Axe of Wundor. I will let you know when you get a customer willing to buy it. This is the Sandpoint market not the Hell's black market." After the session if he pushes I would tell him, I'm not going to let you ruin the game for everyone just because you twisted a part of one section in the rules and ignored the rest. If you double just your wealth you are way over powered compared to the others. If you double everyone's wealth the game will quickly become boring because it will be so easy to defeat anything even slightly appropriate.

Session way to long. As soon as people started not paying attention and you getting frustrated, you should have called a halt. Note: a break for food is reasonable, but if things don't get back on track afterward, just drop it until next game day.

Rarely are players as immersed in the game as the GM. The simply haven't the opportunity to spend nearly as much time thinking about, planning, creating, imagining, etc... in the game world. You will just have to learn to deal with that. Or find one of the very rare groups that is like that.


I would suggest using magic encumbrance rules to divorce magical items from wealth first of all.

As Kilokotroni notes, magical items are where all the real power in Pathfinder comes from, especially if you're not a spell caster. The basic idea of magical encumbrance is that take the wealth by level chart, turn it into the magical encumbrance by level chart. Use the base cost (not crafted cost) to determine what a characters magical encumbrance is. Then you don't have to worry about them having excess wealth and ruining the balance of the campaign, instead you end up with characters doing interesting things like buying a castle or founding an poor house or church with their extra wealth because they have much more than wealth then they need. It also keeps things balanced by enforicing the effective wealth by level table which controls the power level granted by magical items.

So let this player start his buisness and sell magical items. It is valid that since its in sandpoint that expensive items aren't going to sell, Sandpoint isn't that big. And, whatever does sell even if the players acquire much greater wealth than they should regularly have it wont impact the quantity of gear that they can use.

The other issues...well those are more difficult to deal with.


It sounds like you overburned on the second session. Either set a time limit (for your own sanity) or allow a smoke/pizza break at the four hour mark. This lets everybody recharge, including you, and it gives you time to think about some of what going on.
On the merchant, the game is designed for adventurer characters, not merchant characters. There are rents, taxes, license fees, loansharks, protection rackets, firebombings, theft, damage by goblins, maintenance costs, advertising, etc, that are all part of existing Sandpoint. He is an outsider, with a shop that has 4 items on the shelves? That store sucks. When is the shop open? As said above, that stuff is probably pricey, salable to only a select few, and the most the locals can afford would be 50%, he can put any price he likes but that doesnt mean it will sell for that. Who runs the shop when the boss isnt around? Make it a big enough pain in the butt and it will solve itself, especially when the other PCs realize they can't afford new gear because they are being held up over inventory issues. He isn't really stealing from the party if they allow it.
Remember you are there to have fun with your friends, and sometimes its the social stuff that may sidetrack you temporarily, but allow it in small increments, like 5 minutes per hour. I've been gaming for 30+ years and you may only get to see these people once a week, its nice to have common interests beyond the game as well. Going all militant is not going to benefit your game.


el cuervo wrote:
So we ran our first session.

Did you restart the campaign? I thought you had run a session or two of this previously.

Quote:

We played for about three and a half hours, got some stuff done, and made it up to the beginning of part 2 of Burnt Offerings. Things were difficult at first, keeping my players in check and making sure no one was talking over everyone. I was concerned no one really cared about the game as much as me. You can check my other posts for details on that.

This past Saturday, we played our second session. It was a marathon session (much to my chagrin), playing for nearly 8 hours in my home. I would say the first hour and a half or two hours went very well. My players were engaged, actively participating in the roleplay, talking to NPCs, gathering information, making awesome assumptions about RotRL that took them into unexpected territories -- I had some opportunities for improvising some encounters -- and all was well.

Until the power gamer/rules lawyer/rules-maker-upper (that's a thing, right?) in my group finally showed his true colors. He started by obtaining a permit to run a business in Sandpoint from the Mercantile League -- that was great, perfectly acceptable. He managed to bluff the pants off (not literally) the clerk at the counter for the permit. Nothing inherently wrong with this and I was glad he was getting into character. I'll get back to this guy here in a minute.

The next hour and a half, after the first two hours had gone so well, were a slog. My players kept cracking jokes OOC in the middle of scenes. They kept talking over each other and cutting each other off. One of my players basically railroaded the entire crew into what he wanted to do (investigate a red herring). He didn't give the other players chance to speak, much of time time (granted, I could have done more to mitigate this -- it's a learning process).

I have to say I'm bad at this as a player, although generally it's because some players don't want to investigate hooks, especially in a sandbox game.

It's always easier to analyze behavior after the fact. I probably would have made the same mistake as a DM, but afterward, you see how you could have just resolved the red herring very quickly. "Make a check. You only needed a 10, and you got an 11, good. You realize it is not important. Now what do the rest of you want to do."

Quote:
Then he stopped the game so he could order pizza (interrupting the flow of the game and stopping mid-RP). Then while he was on the phone, two of my players got up to smoke. We got back to playing, and the player who ordered pizza realized he forgot to order a bottle of soda, for which there was no need, because I had bought two 12 packs, and he had brought a 2 liter (at this point I'm irritated). Everyone had been drinking beer... the night was slowly deteriorating into... a bunch of dudes sitting around drinking beer and soda and eating pizza. We had about 45 minutes of greasy napkins and paper plates occupying the playing space. This is okay, I said, I can deal with this, I said.

One reason I left my old group was the location. There were literally no fast food places nearby. We gamed at night, and I wanted to go to a local McDonald's or something and eat before the game. There was one for a year or so of gaming, but it closed down. (There probably were fast food places that I couldn't see. I refuse to believe there was no fast food.) In any event, you should pick out a specific time for a meal. The best suggestion is probably before the game. Tell people where they can go. Otherwise pick out a spot of time halfway through the game, have a break, and make sure everyone is contributing to pizza or whatever food.

Quote:

I got them mostly back on track, though the game at this point had been going for a few hours and the initial enthusiasm for the session was gone. That being said, they were still interested in playing. Finally, when it came time for loot, the power gamer made himself known. Now, I know this player and his modus operandi. He's sneaky and charismatic and could sell ice to an Eskimo. He managed to convince the rest of the party to give him 20% each of their shares of the loot so that he could use it to eventually set up a shop in town. I tried explaining that this would unbalance the wealth and could create bigger problems when they start needing magic items; that everything has a set price based on it's properties and that every encounter has a set loot amount based on the challenge; they wouldn't listen. I realize it's my game to do what I want with. I want to follow the WBL and encounter CR guidelines and this is going to create issues if the players don't have the WBL they need.

Then, this player told me, the GM, that he could sell all these items (that he is essentially stealing from his party members) at 100% of their value, since now he's a merchant and is selling the items at retail. I stared at him for a couple minutes and didn't say anything. Then I told him it was 50% of value for player sold items (plus any adjustments for feats, traits, boons, and skills, of which he has a few), and he threw a fit. I tried to find rules for this but the best I could come up with was the downtime rules from Ultimate Campaign, which don't translate into what he's looking to do. I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with this since if I don't let him get his way, it's got potential to ruin the game and possibly our friendship. At this point, sometimes it feels like playing the game isn't worth it since my players insist on making up things as they go along and demand that they get their way.

This is one of those situations, again, where the DM could solve the problem if they had more time, but no DM ever has enough time in the midst of a campaign.

Magic items are expensive, and most NPCs have little use for the types that PCs pick up. Even wealthy nobles who can afford a piece of magic armor are more likely to spend it on hedonism, or maybe something that can cast Plant Growth once per day. (More crops means more tax revenue, after all.)

I would handle all the sales and so forth between sessions, as it will probably bore the other players. In addition, I would (behind the scenes) decide that only one third of the stock goes on sale, which cuts out the powergaming - the PC isn't making more money than if he had sold the items like he should that. That's before business expenses, taxes, and so forth.

And now that the PC has invested in a business, it becomes part of the plot. There is no doubt a thieves' guild in town which will try to make him pay for "protection", and the PCs are too low-level to easily win such battles. Plus the PCs will be away from their shop a lot, leaving it unsecured. The guild could target customers when the PCs are away too, so eventually no one goes to that shop. If the PC starts spending money on staff, security guards and traps, that's eating into their profit margins too.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I've read the O.P. but nothing else:

Your player is now a merchant, I'd personally have no problem with him selling stuff for 100% of the value.

Of course it'd take weeks, or months even, to sell, since he has to wait. Also, the local government(s) would want to take their cut, the Mercantile league would take their cut, whomever he is getting the business space would get their cut, and criminal elements are going to get their cut rather through bribes or theft. He'll also have to deal with the blacksmith (or armor smith, or magic crafter, or whomever) having a (very small) sale undercutting his prices. . .

Altogether, I figure the player's final cut of the gold would be around 50% of the item.

Running a business is tough.


Kimera757 wrote:
el cuervo wrote:
So we ran our first session.
Did you restart the campaign? I thought you had run a session or two of this previously.

Ah, no, sorry for the confusion. That was the first session, last Sunday (a week ago yesterday). The rest of my post is about our second session, which was Saturday (two days ago).

As for the rest of these posts -- there are too many good tips, pointers, and ideas here to address them all individually. You all have provided me some invaluable insight into my future GM endeavors (next session is Friday, prepare for another post on Saturday ;) ). I have to say, thus far, the PF community has been absolutely awesome in helping me along the way towards becoming a GM/a better GM.

I truly appreciate the productive critical feedback that I am receiving from you all, especially the lack of negative and non-helpful feedback which plagues so many other Internet forums and the like.

I'm definitely going to take some of the ideas offered here to heart. Our session was long, and maybe it could have been better managed with more scheduled breaks (instead of impromptu ones where players just decide to get up and leave the table), and a dedicate eating time (they wanted to keep playing while eating, I did not).

As for dealing with the new PC merchant in Sandpoint, I like ShadowcatX's take on it, especially the last bit:

Quote:

Of course it'd take weeks, or months even, to sell, since he has to wait. Also, the local government(s) would want to take their cut, the Mercantile league would take their cut, whomever he is getting the business space would get their cut, and criminal elements are going to get their cut rather through bribes or theft. He'll also have to deal with the blacksmith (or armor smith, or magic crafter, or whomever) having a (very small) sale undercutting his prices. . .

Altogether, I figure the player's final cut of the gold would be around 50% of the item.

I'm sure I'll be reading back through this thread many times this week while preparing for my next gaming session. Thanks again for the input, everyone.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
el cuervo wrote:
stuff...

It is always great to help a new GM along. There are far too few of us.


I've realised that after you Gm for/ play with someone, you find out who your true friends are >.>
Which seems kind of absurd, but that's my experience. I've had 2 friendships ruined after playing Pathfinder with those people. However, when I look back, I think... Were they really friends?
It's an opportunity to see someone show their true colours. You may not realise what a person is like while hanging out and talking, but the moment you have to do something co-operative with them, you start to see all the sneakiness, manipulation, pettiness, and straight up selfishness of some people.
All in all, I'm grateful for it.


Beer and great Pen and Paper roll-playing sessions that go for well over 6 hours always mix well at my game table. That said, we're not guzzlers and no one is getting more than slightly buzzed during the game. It depends on a lot more than a blanket statement of beer does or does not mix at a gaming table.

When I'm GMing there are natural breaks in the action. We don't do 6 hours non-stop. It's like there is just a natural flow of the day, but a lot of this comes from a group that games together more regularly.

I think that's a lot of it. It sounds like it is a new experience for everyone at your table. My table has four players and a GM with an AVERAGE of 15 years of tabletop gaming experience each. Those tables are going to feel a lot different than a less experienced or younger game tables.

But the problem players you describe will be a problem player for the entirety of their gaming life (whether its 3 more weeks or 30 more years) unless the behavior is nipped in the bud. And the way that's handled will depend on his personality, maturity, etc. In other words, only you know him.

A new player that came in to my game like that would likely not be welcome back by anybody at the table. But I'd at least give the benefit of the doubt and have a mature discussion about this isn't about beating the system, or competing against me as the GM, or hacking a video game, or finding a gold-mining cheat in a MMORPG. This is about group entertainment. And I recommend the player either get down with the group entertainment aspect of the game or find something better to do when all their other friends get together for gaming.

One last bit, don't fight this guy on "in-game" solutions to the problem. This is not an "in-game" problem, this is a player problem. When you address the problem by using NPCs to deliver your message, then you are being passive-aggressive. Doing so will only ENCOURAGE future PLAYER problems from this player. It will reinforce that his tactics worked. If you are looking through campaign sourcebook or some other in-game rules source to solve the problem, you are going down the rabbit hole. You don't need a book to say, "You are a merchant? Ok, I run all the merchants. He's an NPC. Roll up a new character." We'll be playing Merchants & TaxRolls in 2031. The campaign starts on Nov. 15, 2031, see you then. It's on a Saturday. We'll be starting at 1 p.m. sharp.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I just started GM'ing about a year ago. Something that I did that I would strongly recommend to anyone starting to run a game, is ask your players what they want.

I did a survey with a bunch of questions ranked 1 to 10, and asked where they lined up.

Always speak in character at the table 1 - 10 descibe what my character says and roll.

Combat always the solution 1 - 10 non combat option always the solution.

Combat driven adventure 1 - 10 story driven adventure

And so on. After getting the results (some were very surprising) I spoke with the group and shared the results.

Together we came up with the style of group we would be. They joke, in and out of character, they are sometimes focused, but often not. They often forget plot details, but they care about the story. I check in occasionally to make sure they are enjoying the game, and address any problems that come up.

Bottom line: I am enjoying running the game. They enjoy playing it. We all enjoy hanging out.

Trying to force this group to play super seriously would not be fun for anyone.

Check in with your group. If you are the only one that wants to play a super serious game, you are in for a world of frustration. Just my experience, but there you go. :)

Scarab Sages

I think re-adjusting your expectations is the most helpful thing you can do. Growing up I was always more of a roll-player, but my friends were more "role" players. Now, gaming with the same friends, I know what to expect. I don't do tons of backstory or work on things that the players will never even know about. After a few sentences of dialog we'll usually just roll diplomacy for the rest of the conversation - they want to fight monsters not sit around while one player and the GM talk.

While I know I could find more "serious" role players, especially in the Chicago improv community, I realized I'd rather hang out with my friends than create a great story.

And it's less pressure on me that way too. Especially after accepting what they are looking for, I'll craft the encounters to give them what they want. Then we all have fun.

I read a great book before starting to DM (first time I've DMed in over 20 years) called "The lazy Dungeon master" , it really helped.

Scarab Sages

A lot of great points, but I wanted to add one more. When your players do something unexpected that breaks your plan (like insisting on setting up a shop and arguing that they should be able to sell at 100%), take a deep breath, and be willing to just say very pleasantly "I hadn't anticipated that, let's hold off dealing with that until next session so I can figure out how to make it work."

And actually mean it.

A key is to never (within reason) say no to a player, but to say "yes, but ...". The time between sessions is coming up with the rest of that sentence. I don't mean thinking of how you can ruin their fun to punish them for a different idea, but to think out how you can create drama and story around that character choice.

The complications, side quests, and fun of the game often come from those situations, especially if you then wrap them back around to tie into the overall plot. Then it feels in retrospect like not only the players choices mattered, but that they contributed to the overall story arc instead of just being side missions.


el cuervo wrote:
Then, this player told me, the GM, that he could sell all these items (that he is essentially stealing from his party members) at 100% of their value, since now he's a merchant and is selling the items at retail. I stared at him for a couple minutes and didn't say anything. Then I told him it was 50% of value for player sold items (plus any adjustments for feats, traits, boons, and skills, of which he has a few), and he threw a fit.

If he wants to be a merchant then he can:

A) Carry all of his merchandise around with him to sell to adventurers, at which point he wont have to pay rent, BUT might need to get special licensing for each new city he goes into to be legally able to sell.

B) Buy a shop, hire clerks, pay rent, and the items he has for sale MIGHT sell. I am thinking that over a month the items DO actually sell, but between his employees, rent, and so forth it boils down to 50% value anyway--you can be nice and say that the business has his own personal residence inside of it hence paying for him to have a place to live.

The problem with his logic is that he thinks that just because he puts items up for sale that they will actually sell. The used items have wear and tear on them, and yet the cost the exact same as the items that are brand new.

Also, if he is setting prices he needs to roll an Appraise check for EVERY SINGLE ITEM, on a failed check he rolls: Evens are the items is around 50% value--if he complains then the item is at 25% value and he loses money--or the item is at 150% value at which point it doesn't sell after a month at which point he is allowed another Appraise.

Also, lets talk about TAXES, because owning a business and being a merchant costs a lot of money. I am pretty sure the cities, provinces, and countries all want their cut.

If he bluffs his way into making 100% profit without paying taxes then have the established order audit him after a few months. Then, have them demand money from him for back taxes that he hasn't paid, and on top of that fines with the possible bribe to not send him to prison or worse. All this should boil down to approximately 50% of the cost of everything he sold, hence bringing him back to where it is supposed to be.

IF he decides he isn't going to pay the taxes, the fines, or the bribes then the established order starts sending bounty hunters after him. Obvious and stupid ones at first, but eventually going all the way up to assassins and eventually Red-Mantis-Assassins.

Scarab Sages

Berti Blackfoot wrote:
I think re-adjusting your expectations is the most helpful thing you can do. Growing up I was always more of a roll-player, but my friends were more "role" players.

ha i got that backward


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My first games I hosted were with my old high school gang. Most of us had an interest in starting tabletop, and the rest seemed willing to give it a go. We've never, not in 4 years or around seven games, been able to hold it together. A few of us GMed different times and we all had the same issue of control. In one particular instance, half of my players decided the rules were boring and made attack rolls against enemies they couldn't hit.

These days, I play with another group but still hang out with the old. I've been hosting a game for maybe 2 years now for them, and everything's just peechy.

You sound like a good GM, Cuervo. Don't blame the whole thing on yourself. A lot of us started the same way and are enjoying quality table time today.


Feegle wrote:


That said, you made a rookie mistake: You assumed that just because the players are your friends, that they are interested in the same kind of game you are. When I go out to start or join a game, I have learned to ask what the point of the game is going to be. Will it be RP-heavy? Will it be combat-heavy? How "on-the-rails" will it be? (Published adventures are moreso.)

Yup, this is why I don't usually GM for friends. I'll end up torn between making an adjustment in style to suit someone which then doesn't suit someone else, or I'll end up running a style of game I dislike. It goes far smoother when I just recruit a group from scratch that all want the same type of game I do.


Taku Ooka Nin wrote:


If he wants to be a merchant then he can:
...

AKA... play Merchants & TaxRolls


I agree with Taku.

And, you can add some other interresting things there.
I'm thinking of the Szcarni(?) mob asking for protection money, burglars, paying for upkeep of the shop, mercentile league fees; mercantile league meetings; fines for not coming to a meeting, ...

All the joy of being a merchant. :p

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My advice to add to the pile you've already gotten:

1) Food first - We always start our game sessions with dinner. It takes about an hour and gets it out of the way. The only thing left after that is individual snacking and drink refills.
2) Scrap the beer, or cut it back - Your game session sounds like it turned into a beer drinking session. A beer might loosen you up and get the creative juices flowing, but a few beers makes you annoying to game with.
3) Shorter sessions and more breaks - The longer a session runs, the more prone to distraction and general fatigue everyone gets. Break for a few minutes at least once an hour. Expect that your players will talk and joke among themselves at points in between.
4) Don't be too serious - Remember, this is supposed to be fun. You should relax some.

I've been friends with some of my players for over 20 years (and I don't mean acquaintances either, I mean good, solid friends). You guys just need to find your style.

-Skeld


Here is what I would do:

1. Explain to your "merchant" player that being a merchant has a ton of costs, including buying or renting a storefront, storing merchandise, paying taxes and paying dues to the merchant's guild. All of those added up will effectively reduce his profit considerably.

2. Being a merchant is a profession and there are clear rules about how much gold a PC makes by pursuing a profession and now that he has chosen to pursue a profession, those rules come into play.

3. I run RPG adventure games, not "Markets & Merchants" and if he wants to play "Markets & Merchants" he is welcome to go find a game of his own or run one for other players.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Ah, the saga of El Cuervo continues!

Don't give up, man! You're one of the most self-correcting, self-aware GMs I've seen on these forums. If you keep at it, you will be one of the all-time great GMs, I promise.

You're wrong, in the thread title. Friends are —the best— players. The game is about manufacturing awesome memories. You can do that with complete strangers, sure, but it is best when you have games to reminisce about with people who share your humor and values.

So what went wrong? I'd guess it wasn't the fact that you're all close, and it wasn't the beer. Anecdotal evidence from my table shows that you can drink prodigiously with very close friends and keep the game on task.

No, I'd say it's the 8 hour marathon session. I've been GMing since before I can remember, like 25 years or something, and I still have a hard time GMing that much in one go. I still do it, for three days in a row, once a year. But I have a schedule, with built-in breaks, and an assistant GM!

Set an upper limit of four hours. If you're still fresh to keep going after that, take an hour break, socialize, play some video/board games. Let the events of the game sink into your subconscious. GMing overclocks the brain. It is very hard to manage the attention span of the players for longer than the duration of two full feature films.

As to the shop specifically, and the resale value of things, you were right to draw the line. I would tell this player: "Look, you want to run a shop. That is great and I will make sure you get both a role-playing and a financial payout for doing it. But I'm not going to model an entire economy to balance the game. I'm not an economist, and economists are charlatans anyway. So let's agree on what a fair financial advantage is, and what you're sacrificing to get that advantage, and get back to playing the game instead of managing your character's checkbook."

As to drinking alcohol, it can be disruptive if your friends have a disruptive relationship with alcohol. But it is also a social lubricant, which can be a great boon if you want people to loosen up and speak in character sometimes. HOWEVER — even "moderate" drinking spaced out over 8 hours takes its toll on one's cognitive abilities. Add to that a pizza-induced food coma, and you really can't expect people (yourself included) to stay on task.

If swilling brews with your buds is a social priority to your friends (as it is to mine) then maybe designate the second half of the evening to just chilling and maybe talking about the game you just played, but not forcing further progress.

Don't give up on this party. You really should go a dozen sessions or so with your close friends and see if things even out.

Good luck!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Also, don't be a slave to WBL. Do an audit now and then, especially if the players are blowing through encounters that should be hard — but only do the audit to check if you should adjust the challenge up or down. Audits are easy, just add up the big stuff that matters. If the player spent copper on chalk, you don't really need to count it.

Let the party acquire whatever gold YOU deem appropriate in the plot. If your player is super clever (but not abusing rules) about making money, let him be rich! Don't let him walk all over you, but let him be comfortable with gold, that's fine. If he spills over into the next WBL bracket or two, the game will not fall apart.

The only reason WBL exists is if players are not being challenge, and you need to assess why, you can do the math and prove that they are richer than the challenge metrics assume. That doesn't mean you go and rob them to bring the number down. You might starve them for new treasure for a while, or you might just leave them over-wealth and raise the challenge. You should probably try each of these approaches (including the robbery) during the course of the campaign.

Nothing kills the fun of adventuring quite like knowing that no matter how wily you are, you'll always have the same amount of gold. Players deserve the potential to pull off a great heist, and if they do, they'll be able to take on slightly greater challenges and therefore advance a little faster. THAT is the purpose of WBL, not some hard-and-fast limit that the players and GM must adhere to.


Duiker wrote:

A lot of great points, but I wanted to add one more. When your players do something unexpected that breaks your plan (like insisting on setting up a shop and arguing that they should be able to sell at 100%), take a deep breath, and be willing to just say very pleasantly "I hadn't anticipated that, let's hold off dealing with that until next session so I can figure out how to make it work."

And actually mean it.

A key is to never (within reason) say no to a player, but to say "yes, but ...". The time between sessions is coming up with the rest of that sentence. I don't mean thinking of how you can ruin their fun to punish them for a different idea, but to think out how you can create drama and story around that character choice.

The complications, side quests, and fun of the game often come from those situations, especially if you then wrap them back around to tie into the overall plot. Then it feels in retrospect like not only the players choices mattered, but that they contributed to the overall story arc instead of just being side missions.

Also, entire post quoted for truth.


Players aren't puppets that dance for your enjoyment, expect them to do the unexpected constantly. Obviously you've learnt plenty and can adjust each session to be better every time.

Personally I prefer to handle food after the delve, it's a bit of a wait but it's hard to get back into the flow of any thinking once food has interrupted. People are generally more likely to fall into food comas after eating too. If your players are loosing interest after X amount of hours then maybe make your sessions shorter and more precise, the idea is to have them crave the gaming experience.

On the shop thing I think it's an awesome idea, while it was possibly done as a cheese tactic this player has given you a wealth of opportunities to bring in side quests and become really involved in running his own store!

All this needs is balancing.

Let the player set his prices for items, force him to make it work by investing skill points into profession merchant, appraise, diplomacy and other skills.

Impose a city tax
Impose property rental prices
Force him to either sell in person or hire shop keepers

Base the chances of his items selling based on his prices and the appropriate skill rolls. If he inflates his prices then make the selling slow, remember the players are selling hero quality items in the town of Sandpoint... where the only heroes are the players.

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / You know what they say about GMing for friends... More adventures of a noob GM All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.