Socially acceptable use of magic in PFS social settings?


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Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Thod wrote:
Why is nobody doing a little bit of research ... There is soooo much published material out there from Paizo.

But most of it's not on the PRD. :)

Thod wrote:
That makes 4% of population being divine casters and 1% arcane casters

I don't think anyone was terribly concerned about population percentages, were they?

Thod wrote:

My take:

Clergy (wise woman, witch, druid, alcolyte) are relative common and every settlement has one living there or at least access to someone wandering multiple tiny places. This is in full agreement with the GMG.

Seems legit. Would you say this fits within this idea?

Thod wrote:
Expect your peasant to have seen a bless or cure light wound being cast. But that might be close to what he has seen - unless he is in a larger settlement.

Which would seem to suggest that unless you look angry when you cast, he's probably expecting something along those lines, yes?

Thod wrote:
A lot of people have no class at all - experts, peasants etc. They form the backbone of society but are not worthwhile being detailed.

What about adepts? Might they be part of the populace right alongside the experts, further increasing the degree to which people are used to being around magic? Since they're NPC classes just like the rest of the population, they're no more likely to be mentioned individually even if they're there, right?

Grand Lodge

Jiggy wrote:


I don't think anyone was terribly concerned about population percentages, were they?

Is there a better (other) way to describe a baseline in numbers?

This was my attempt to quantify the baseline - something I thought you yourself have been concerned about. But seems I musunderstood what you are after.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Thod's writeup on Ravengro with mild additions:
Thod wrote:

Ravengro, small town. Source: Carrion Crown, The Haunting of Harrowstone, p56+

Population 311 <-- GMG spellcasting level of 4th

Spellcasters: All of these casters fit within the GMG bounds
Divine:
Vauran Grimburrow, cleric of Pharasma, lvl. 7
Unnamed - a dozen acolytes (level 1-3 clerics of Pharasma serving under Vauran)
Arcane
Professor Petros Lorrimor, Wizard 7 (deceased - the campaign starts after his death)
Kendra Lorrimort his daughter - Diviner 2
Alendru Ghoroven Expert 1, wizard 5 - retired ! wizard-turned-teacher, owner of the Unfurling Scroll - earns additional money by trading in minor magical items
Jominda Fallenbridge - owner of Jolinda's apothecary, Alchemist 2

Or by magical related buildings
Temple of Pharasma - it should be noted this is the only temple/shrine in town
Lorrimor household (ex-wizard 7 and daughter wizard 2)
Magic Shop and Alchemist shop

Total magical spell casters mentioned
13 divine casters
3(4) arcane casters

I should add that a level 2 ranger is the town sheriff and gets mentioned. So don't expect a lot more unmentioned spell casters.

While I like and appreciate this analysis, I disagree that this is the whole list of casters. Shop owners don't have 0-level acolytes or helpers or apprentices in an economy based on trades? Being a wizard or cleric is a learned trade, unlike sorcerers and oracles, so I expect someone in town is teaching the kids. At the very least, this list doesn't exclude the possibility that there are other 0-level talents in town.

If I were talking about any town, I'd want to know who the sheriff is, so that likewise doesn't convince me unnamed minor practitioners don't exist.

But, for the sake of argument, let's go with 5% of a population able to cast spells and ALL of them (except for the wizard family) based in magical businesses. Which means casting spells is their livelihood, and the other members of the town are their primary clientele. I think it's only in PFS scenarios where alchemist shops are empty of shoppers so they aren't blown up in the ensuing combat. I expect that they do at least some business every day, if we expect them to still be in business.

Also, none of these people are in the fireball or bomb business. That would be illegal. Which means these folks are making a living by casting tons of harmless and helpful spells under the full auspices of the law.

All of this suggests to me that spellcasting is a common thing, and that people unused to seeing basic spells are the exception. And this is after looking at Ravengro which, as far as I can tell, completely fits the rules I see in the GMG.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

@Thod — Well, even if only 4% of a settlement's population can cast spells, they're still (or at least some of them are) selling those spells as a service. Thus, you don't need a huge percentage in order for people to be well-exposed to magic. Just like how only a small percentage of my local metro area's population works at movie theaters, but everyone knows what a movie is and it would be quite a shock to meet someone who's never seen one.

Since the main goal is to get a general idea of how NPCs react to PCs casting spells, we don't need to know how common it is for someone to be able to cast, but rather we need to know how common it is for someone to be used to the idea of seeing someone else cast a spell.

If a town of 65 people has a single 3rd- or 4th-level caster as their only source of magic, fine. But if that caster routinely heals the injured, inspects food/water stores with divinations, and uses ghost sound to give monthly speeches/sermons to the town without going hoarse; then those people are pretty used to magic and aren't necessarily going to reach for their weapons if someone who doesn't already look threatening suddenly casts a spell. If their daily exposure to magic is their mayor/pastor/all-in-one doing useful and beneficial things, and then they see someone do some hand-waving and babbling similar to what he does, they're going to be confused at worst.

And the reaction certainly won't be, as some would have us believe, "IT'S A CASTER! HIT THE DIRT!"

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Imagine Jiggy that you are in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords where one could have the regional trait, Superstitious. You gain a bonus to saves vs arcane spells, but are suspicious of non divine magic. In your example above, any spellcasting other than the village shaman will be viewed with mistrust.

There are nearly an unlimited amount of variation around Golarion. Just trust your GM to make a fair ruling.

This does not need to be codified, lest we end up playing PFS in vanilla world instead of Golarion.


I think the thread needs to get back toward the OP. Knowing how common magic is is useful but does not answer the questions. Even assuming magic is super common, is it useful for guarding gates, monitoring economic transactions, etc.? If not, and I feel it is not, then it does not matter how common magic is people would not use it.

Even if everyone has a pistol, most people would not use that pistol to open their can of soup. A can opener works better. Likewise, even if everyone has magic, is it the best option for the social interactions at issue here?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Andrew Christian wrote:
Imagine Jiggy that you are in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords where one could have the regional trait, Superstitious. You gain a bonus to saves vs arcane spells, but are suspicious of non divine magic. In your example above, any spellcasting other than the village shaman will be viewed with mistrust.

Okay.

Quote:
There are nearly an unlimited amount of variation around Golarion. Just trust your GM to make a fair ruling.

There's a lot of variation around Golarion, sure. But it feels (to me) like there's a lot less variation among PFS scenarios. That is, you're usually either out in the field (no NPCs to react to your spells), or in a pretty metropolitan area that's not that different (as far as this topic is concerned) from the last metro area you were in.

And it's not about whether I trust my GM or not (at least for me). See below:

Quote:
This does not need to be codified, lest we end up playing PFS in vanilla world instead of Golarion.

You recently ran me through a scenario in Rahadoum, where my cleric's magic was prohibited. Thus, I had to be careful not to cast spells in front of anyone I didn't intend to bust up. That should make Rahadoum feel different and unique, letting me, as you say, play in Golarion instead of vanilla world.

But what if what I experienced in Rahadoum—needing to avoid casting spells around NPCs—was what I normally encountered everywhere because some number of hypothetical GMs think magic is rare and mysterious and casting would cause a ruckus? Now suddenly Rahadoum isn't special anymore. Going from "Casting in front of NPCs is a no-no" to "Casting in front of NPCs is a no-no for a more specific reason" takes Rahadoum's flavor away and ruins any sense of "I'm playing in Golarion".

Having a baseline against which to compare is what gives the beauty and flavor to Golarion's many different regions.

It's not about not trusting the GM. It's about being able to get into the world. (Kind of like that other thread I started, but with flavor instead of mechanics.)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Mike Franke wrote:

I think the thread needs to get back toward the OP. Knowing how common magic is is useful but does not answer the questions. Even assuming magic is super common, is it useful for guarding gates, monitoring economic transactions, etc.? If not, and I feel it is not, then it does not matter how common magic is people would not use it.

Even if everyone has a pistol, most people would not use that pistol to open their can of soup. A can opener works better. Likewise, even if everyone has magic, is it the best option for the social interactions at issue here?

If someone in town can cast cure spells, you can bet it's getting cast; whether he's the only caster in his little village like a frontier town's only doctor, or the local temple selling cures to citizens much like a clinic. Either way, are you honestly going to suggest that getting cure light wounds instead of a Heal check is like using a gun instead of a can opener? Seriously?


Andrew Christian wrote:
There are nearly an unlimited amount of variation around Golarion. Just trust your GM to make a fair ruling.

Based on what exactly? The last PFS game I played at the local game store, the GM had to have his hand held the entire time. The one before that, the GM didn't even know how Take 10/20 work. Sorry, GMs are not vetted or trained before they start GMing. GMs can make fair rulings when they are given information on which to base that ruling. That information is currently lacking.

When one GM is telling me spells are weapons and refuses to acknowledge that they would be viewed as anything but hostile acts and yet the literature suggests that spell use should be a common occurrence, I don't see that as some emergent benefit of table variation.

The scenario's author can tell us when the setting requires something different. Just like we don't let GMs insert random racial hatred against half-orcs/elves, something as fundamental as societal reaction to magic use should not be left to the whim of GMs in an organized play system.

And Jiggy is correct:

Jiggy wrote:
Having a baseline against which to compare is what gives the beauty and flavor to Golarion's many different regions.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Yes. But you and the OP have different expectations. You want a blog that gives enough fluff information for a GM to make an informed decision on how to rule. I can get behind that. More game world info, especially pulled into a central area for ease of reference is a GMs friend. I can get behind this.

But this isn't what the OP is asking for. He wants any GM interpretation to be removed from the equation.

The only way this is possible without making it a vanilla world is to put this info into each scenario as necessary. Word count that takes away from each scenarios specific plot.


Andrew Christian wrote:

Yes. But you and the OP have different expectations. You want a blog that gives enough fluff information for a GM to make an informed decision on how to rule. I can get behind that. More game world info, especially pulled into a central area for ease of reference is a GMs friend. I can get behind this.

But this isn't what the OP is asking for. He wants any GM interpretation to be removed from the equation.

The only way this is possible without making it a vanilla world is to put this info into each scenario as necessary. Word count that takes away from each scenarios specific plot.

Incorrect.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

N N 959 wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:
There are nearly an unlimited amount of variation around Golarion. Just trust your GM to make a fair ruling.

Based on what exactly? The last PFS game I played at the local game store, the GM had to have his hand held the entire time. The one before that, the GM didn't even know how Take 10/20 work. Sorry, GMs are not vetted or trained before they start GMing.

When one GM is telling me spells are weapons and refuses to acknowledge that they would be viewed as anything but hostile acts and yet the literature suggests that spell use should be a common occurrence, I don't see that as some emergent benefit of table variation.

The scenario's author can tell us when the setting requires something different. Just like we don't let GMs insert random racial hatred against half-orcs/elves, something as fundamental as societal reaction to magic use should not be left to the whim of GMs in an organized play system.

And Jiggy is correct:

Jiggy wrote:
Having a baseline against which to compare is what gives the beauty and flavor to Golarion's many different regions.

So you want to handcuff GMs who don't have these issues so that new or under prepared GMs don't have to think or learn?

That doesn't make sense.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

N N 959 wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

Yes. But you and the OP have different expectations. You want a blog that gives enough fluff information for a GM to make an informed decision on how to rule. I can get behind that. More game world info, especially pulled into a central area for ease of reference is a GMs friend. I can get behind this.

But this isn't what the OP is asking for. He wants any GM interpretation to be removed from the equation.

The only way this is possible without making it a vanilla world is to put this info into each scenario as necessary. Word count that takes away from each scenarios specific plot.

Incorrect.

Correct. You said so upthread.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Andrew Christian wrote:

Yes. But you and the OP have different expectations. You want a blog that gives enough fluff information for a GM to make an informed decision on how to rule. I can get behind that. More game world info, especially pulled into a central area for ease of reference is a GMs friend. I can get behind this.

But this isn't what the OP is asking for. He wants any GM interpretation to be removed from the equation.

Even if you're correct about that, I'd think you'd be in favor of me hijacking such a thread for a nobler purpose. ;)

Grand Lodge

Arkos

I did list the sheriff (level 2 ranger - so no spell casting) and the teacher if the town - the retired wizard.

The way I read Ravengro and interpreted the well written background:

The highest level cleric is a gruff person. He will cast if necessary - but don't expect it to happen often.
The highest level wizard - Professor Lorrimor was a private person and scholar. I can't envision him casting in public - nor his daughter.
The second highest wizard is described as retired but doing a side business in minor magical items. He will cast / scribe scrolls provided you can afford it - which not many people can.
The Alchemist is having an apothecary. She is selling a lot of non magical items.
The alcolytes are described as a source for holy water and potions of CLW.

So all in all - I can't envision a lot of magic being practiced in the open or on a regular basis.

Yes - people in Ravengro will have seen magic performed. But at least I can't envision it as common from the way I read the whole book.

YMMV

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Jiggy wrote:

But what if what I experienced in Rahadoum—needing to avoid casting spells around NPCs—was what I normally encountered everywhere because some number of hypothetical GMs think magic is rare and mysterious and casting would cause a ruckus? Now suddenly Rahadoum isn't special anymore. Going from "Casting in front of NPCs is a no-no" to "Casting in front of NPCs is a no-no for a more specific reason" takes Rahadoum's flavor away and ruins any sense of "I'm playing in Golarion".

Having a baseline against which to compare is what gives the beauty and flavor to Golarion's many different regions.

Considering the reverse, we all expect our GM's to run Rahadoum in the same way because it is so specific. Specific enough that it is outlined for us in the scenario. We don't "trust" our GM's to run Rahadoum that way... we tell them to do it. And that's the case so all players have that Rahadoum-ish experience.

Don't we want all of our players to have the canon Golarian-ish experience for the exact same reasons?

If I ran Rahadoum the same way I ran Alkenstar, I'd get strung up by the Informal GM Coalition, because we care about the setting and don't want table variation. So why is table variation okay in a different town or city? Or in Absalom, the most important city in PFS?

I understand not wanting a baseline (though I disagree), but I don't understand how a baseline is bad for PFS.


Andrew Christian wrote:

So you want to handcuff GMs who don't have these issues so that new or under prepared GMs don't have to think or learn?

That doesn't make sense.

If you mean handcuff like in the way that Mike Brock handcuffed GMs from changing DC's and monster stats because GMs thought it would be more fun? Then yes. I don't think any GM who starting screwing with encounters ever acknowledged that they had issues.

How society works in Golarion should not be subject to GM whim. Just like how attack and damage work, how flanking works, how Take 10/20 works, and all the other things that form the core experience of the player in PFS.

Does that mean every situation is exactly the same? No. But GMs cannot make fair rulings without a basis to make that ruling. Right now, that basis doesn't exist. We have one guy telling us that magic isn't useful in day to day life and another one insisting it's like waving a gun at a park.

I'm gong to repeat this ad nauseum : Organized play is predicated on fairness.


Arkos wrote:

Considering the reverse, we all expect our GM's to run Rahadoum in the same way because it is so specific. Specific enough that it is outlined for us in the scenario. We don't "trust" our GM's to run Rahadoum that way... we tell them to do it. And that's the case so all players have that Rahadoum-ish experience.

Don't we want all of our players to have the canon Golarian-ish experience for the exact same reasons?

If I ran Rahadoum the same way I ran Alkenstar, I'd get strung up by the Informal GM Coalition, because we care about the setting and don't want table variation. So why is table variation okay in a different town or city? Or in Absalom, the most important city in PFS?

I understand not wanting a baseline (though I disagree), but I don't understand how a baseline is bad for PFS.

Bingo.

There are tons of GMs who want these questions answered, Andrew. Ask yourself why that is?

Dark Archive

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I have an idea that might help approach this from a different direction.

Casters have children, same as everyone else. Their children have seen casting most everyday of their lives. We know in a Thorp at least 1 in 20 folk are casters. They may or may not be married to other casters, but around one in ten children have been around a caster all their lives.

These children are not going to be phased by casting.

One suspects perhaps that mummy cast cure light wounds whenever little Kyra scraped her knee (and on any of her friends) or that daddy cast mage armor on little Valeros when he went out to play with the big kids. And probably a ton of other stuff, including the magical parent being a major attraction at birthday parties.

Hmm, "Why cant you cast spells daddy?" has got to hurt.


As the GM in the game that precipitated N N 959's post I know that the conversation before the post here was about having a baseline so that there is narrative consistency (and understanding how I was interpreting public magic use ahead of time). Part of it was about what SLAs looked like (we ended up using Wardstone Patrol as a guide for that) and that led to wondering what Jonathan Compton would think about magic use and etiquette. I'm looking forward to the potential blog post and I never felt the discussion was about limiting my options, but getting to a point of shared expectations.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

ZomB wrote:

I have an idea that might help approach this from a different direction.

Casters have children, same as everyone else. Their children have seen casting most everyday of their lives. We know in a Thorp at least 1 in 20 folk are casters. They may or may not be married to other casters, but around one in ten children have been around a caster all their lives.

These children are not going to be phased by casting.

The generational change approach! Those children who are fine with casters have children and teach them to be fine with casters. "Thanks for babysitting, Dad. Just show them some illusions until they fall asleep, and we'll be back by 9. Love you!"

Eventually everyone's family history has a caster in it somewhere. An overwhelming majority of them don't turn into evil super-liches, and the world becomes less scared of magic.

ZomB wrote:
Hmm, "Why cant you cast spells daddy?" has got to hurt.

ZomB is currently winning this thread.

Grand Lodge

Paul Byers

Interesting remark. Actually Mendev might be the only place I can envision where detect evil is being practiced openly in the public.

The constant thread of demons disguising themselves combined with a very large proportion of Paladins or other members of the holy crusade would lead to such behavior.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Awwww you're so good with the kids, whats your secret?

Slumber hex...

*blink!?*

What? I could have taken Leomands tiny Ginger Bread Hut instead....

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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N N 959 wrote:
Andrew Christian wrote:

So you want to handcuff GMs who don't have these issues so that new or under prepared GMs don't have to think or learn?

That doesn't make sense.

If you mean handcuff like in the way that Mike Brock handcuffed GMs from changing DC's and monster stats because GMs thought it would be more fun? Then yes. I don't think any GM who starting screwing with encounters ever acknowledged that they had issues.

How society works in Golarion should not be subject to GM whim. Just like how attack and damage work, how flanking works, how Take 10/20 works, and all the other things that form the core experience of the player in PFS.

Does that mean every situation is exactly the same? No. But GMs cannot make fair rulings without a basis to make that ruling. Right now, that basis doesn't exist. We have one guy telling us that magic isn't useful in day to day life and another one insisting it's like waving a gun at a park.

I'm gong to repeat this ad nauseum : Organized play is predicated on fairness.

But there are so many variables that you can't have one entire book, let alone blog, able to cover every possibility.

Just a few examples I've GM'd:

Port Godless:
As Jiggy mentioned, I GM'd this for him. His Cleric of Iomedae had to hide his spellcasting because Rahadoum hates divine spellcasting. Indeed, Rahadoum has a decent amount of information on what this means in the ISWG. Furthermore the Heresy of Man series and this scenario especially all indicate how knowledgeable the general populace and the Pure Legion is with spellcasting and whether its divine or arcane. So we had some RP at the beginning of the scenario that supposedly happened off-screen and for all but divine casters didn't matter anyways. Basically a divine customs upon entering Rahadoum where he was made to give up his holy symbol and cover Iomedae's symbol on his breast plate.

Fortress of the Nail:
This essentially takes place in a Hellknight community. Mark Moreland has already commented in the GM Advice area on this particular scenario's thread, that if someone gets the dimensional anchor curse, and the minimum caster level remove curse potions don't work (gotta roll a 13 or better if I recall), you need to find a spellcaster to purchase services from. The scenario doesn't cover this eventuality. But Mark indicated that you should be able to find some Priests of Asmodeus during the scenario. I ran into just such an occurrence prior to Mark's post. I adjudicated that the Hellknights didn't want them there, but out of courtesy were allowing them to go get Zarta. So wandering around the complex in places they were not told they could go, could get them kicked out. They snuck around, found the church of Asmodeus, and got the remove curse cast, so they were able to participate in the final two encounters.

But not being a proper population center by the rules, and probably not having a population high enough for 5th level casters (or 3rd level spells), with a hard-coded document as you suggest, I would have been hand-cuffed away from allowing them to go get the spellcasting services that Mark Moreland said should be allowed in a later post. This document would have hurt the players and likely resulted in mission failure (and death of the 4 who were not cursed). But I felt it fair to let them go find the Church, and even allowed them to purchase 8th level spellcasting services. I mean why wouldn't The Fortress of the Nail have an 8th level cleric of Asmodeus present?

Pallid Plague:
This one apparently is a small village of I think 50 or 60 folks. But apparently there aren't any spellcasters there that can help against this magical plague. So the players have to go up there and help an herbalist mix a special anti-plague to save the village and the Fey in the forest nearby. In this case, if you start casting spells in front of some local dude, he might a) thank you because he assumes you are trying to cure his disease or b)run from you (or attack if he's a town guard) because he assumes you are one of them that caused the plague and are casting it on them now.

There are probably 30 to 40 (wild guess off the top of my head as I haven't counted) scenarios that take place around small communities. Many take place in Absalom, Almas, Sothis, Magnimar or other capitals or large metropolises.

By my examples above, I think I've shown that each circumstance is going to be different. Where are they? What's current news? What's going on? Are they in the sewers? Are there town guards they have to talk to? Are there any regional hatreds or suspicions? Are there any local laws?

What are the circumstances surrounding a players action? What precedent within the context of the scenario and NPCs there-in has the scenario set? The player's actions? Are they casting a spell directed at the NPC guard without the guards permission? Has past actions within that community given the PC's a negative reputation? Is this particular guard already hostile toward them as defined by the scenario?

I'm sorry you had some negative experiences with some new and inexperienced GMs. But do you honestly think waving some document in their face telling them that they can't make choices as a GM is going to help them learn to be a better GM? Or is going to make them want to GM ever again?

I guarantee that when I was 14 and starting to GM, I made tons of mistakes. I had a GM vs. Player attitude. I made some poor decisions. I was not a very good GM. But as my players dealt with that (I was the one who owned the books, and as such was the GM by default), and I gained wider experiences by joining the Army and seeing how different GM's that I enjoyed ran things... I modified how I approached GM'ing. I became a better GM.

I still have things to learn, but I think I'm a pretty good GM.

The point being, that if I'd repeatedly had my ability to learn the game the system and still be able to make decisions as a GM taken away, I'd probably not learned to be a better GM and I probably would have stopped doing so.

I re-iterate. This is a roleplaying game of personal interaction. You want everything to be exactly the same across the board, play an MMO or a Computer/Console RPG.

I understand this is organized play, and we want to try and make things as similar as we can, for fairness.

But there is a line to be drawn as to how much of a straight jacket GM's should wear.

I wouldn't want Kyle Baird's table to feel exactly the same as Yours. You are different people, and have different GM styles with different opinions on how things work and interact with one another. I accept that sitting down at Kyle's table, he's going to make rulings as a GM that differ from the way I'd do it. And that's ok. Kyle's a fantastic GM. I learn from him when I play at his table. I enjoy our differences, because that's what makes the experience exciting and dynamic.

You take away all dynamic of difference, which is what you are asking for, then the game becomes about rolling dice and who has the highest stats, instead of about the story being told.

FYI: There are ways to cast spells that don't require you to flaunt it in front of an NPC. Ever hear about going around a corner?

Liberty's Edge 5/5

N N 959 wrote:
Arkos wrote:

Considering the reverse, we all expect our GM's to run Rahadoum in the same way because it is so specific. Specific enough that it is outlined for us in the scenario. We don't "trust" our GM's to run Rahadoum that way... we tell them to do it. And that's the case so all players have that Rahadoum-ish experience.

Don't we want all of our players to have the canon Golarian-ish experience for the exact same reasons?

If I ran Rahadoum the same way I ran Alkenstar, I'd get strung up by the Informal GM Coalition, because we care about the setting and don't want table variation. So why is table variation okay in a different town or city? Or in Absalom, the most important city in PFS?

I understand not wanting a baseline (though I disagree), but I don't understand how a baseline is bad for PFS.

Bingo.

There are tons of GMs who want these questions answered, Andrew. Ask yourself why that is?

I never said a blog post giving us more fluff information (or consolidating fluff information already published) on how to make informed decisions was a bad idea.

And not all GM's are going to be Golarion lore experts. Some may not even own the ISWG. This is ok, because they aren't expected to. They might not know the difference between Sothis and Almas. Although there at least seems to be enough information in most Scenarios that they would what country those cities are in, and at least know what those factions are about, and so have some idea what a small village in those countries might expect in-so-far as magic is concerned.

That being said, a blog post giving us more information to use to make an informed ruling at the table is not a codified set of rules for all of Golarion that ignores individual circumstances both presented by player actions and scenario precedent.

Circumstances will almost always make such a hard-coded set of rules for how to work things obsolete by the very nature of how individual circumstances already make many rules of the game obsolete. Can I use my grappling hook to grab the cave fishers line that has the sorceress 20' off the ground as its reeling her up slowly? Where's the rule for that? I let it happen though, and came up with something fair off the top of my head, using my rules knowledge on how different things worked separately. I made an informed decision that ended up with a circumstance that was fun, entertaining, and hilarious by its end.

You take my ability away to make circumstantial decisions because you want some codified document to dictate how I interpret an NPC might react during a given set of circumstances, then the reaction of the NPC might not actually match what the circumstances dictate.


Andrew Christian wrote:
But there are so many variables that you can't have one entire book, let alone blog, able to cover every possibility,

Agreed.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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Andrew Christian wrote:
You take my ability away to make circumstantial decisions because you want some codified document to dictate how I interpret an NPC might react during a given set of circumstances, then the reaction of the NPC might not actually match what the circumstances dictate.

This bit I totally understand. But what I'm looking for is a baseline so that I can then look at the circumstances that might take things away from that baseline. I don't want a mechanical guide to NPC reactions. I just want a foundation to work from. I don't feel like we have that.

Here we go.

In a typical town in Golarion, two people are talking. One casts detect magic. The other one ____________.

For a hypothetical baseline situation, I'd love to see that blank filled in. And I, personally, want it to be Golarion-wide. I want it to be PFS-wide.

Then GMs can get into whether the town is magically attuned, or the wizard looks a little grumpy. Or the second person was attacked by a witch earlier this week. Or whether we're in Rahadoum or a druidic commune out in the forest somewhere. Or all the special things that make GMing interesting in the first place.

Circumstances are just exceptions to the norm, right? So what's the norm?

Once I know that, we can look at the circumstances and GM the game from a stronger position. I don't look at this as a straightjacket on GMs, I see it as a tool to properly assess a situation and then judge for myself what an NPCs reaction will be. Being able to make an informed decision makes me feel like a better GM. That seems good for the game.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Arkos wrote:

ere we go.

Two people are talking. One casts detect magic. The other one ____________.

For a hypothetical baseline situation, I'd love to see that blank filled in. And I, personally, want it to be Golarion-wide.

I don't think this should be golarion wide, because golarion is a big place willed with a lot of different cultures.

A dog hops up on your couch do you

1) shoo it off
2) pet it while its up there
3) scream in horror as the unclean beast gets its teeth that close to your face!

For casting detect magic

In absolom, a passing magistrate corrects your grammar.
In ustalav people quickly raise their hands in a symbol to ward off evil
In the Kelish north they try to interupt your spell with a foot of steel.

(the inner sea world guide lists magic as getting rarer the further you head away from the inner sea region)

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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BigNorseWolf wrote:


I don't think this should be golarion wide, because golarion is a big place willed with a lot of different cultures.

A dog hops up on your couch do you

1) shoo it off
2) pet it while its up there
3) scream in horror as the unclean beast gets its teeth that close to your face!

Those could all be fine, based on circumstances! That's what I'm saying.

Standard: Dogs are outdoor creatures. Dogs should not be on couches.
Situation: Dog jumps up on a couch.

Rural solution: Why is the dog in the house? Get it outside.
Urban solution: Since urban dogs are indoor, it might be more acceptable. Maybe pet it. Maybe push it off, depending on the house.
Couch-Worshiping Urban solution: Throw the dog out a window, all praise to the Couch.

This is my point.

We know what dogs are. We know what dogs do. Fine.

In my culture, when someone says "Thank you," I say "You're welcome." That's normal. And then circumstances may alter that decision. Like whether the person kicks me first. But at least there's a baseline, and I can make judgments based on that.

Here's what I want.

"In most of Golarion, when two people talk and one casts detect magic, the other _________________, though circumstances may change that reaction."


Andrew Christian wrote:
You want everything to be exactly the same across the board, play an MMO or a Computer/Console RPG.

I don't want everything to be the same. I want the rules which govern the setting and the rules which govern the game to be the same. I want the starting point from which all GMs make reasonable assumptions to be the same.

I think we can agree that this is lacking on this topic.

In the next post you say this:

Quote:
Circumstances will almost always make such a hard-coded set of rules for how to work things obsolete by the very nature of how individual circumstances already make many rules of the game obsolete. Can I use my grappling hook to grab the cave fishers line that has the sorceress 20' off the ground as its reeling her up slowly?

Circumstances don't make the rules obsolete. The rules provide a basis on which to interpret the outcome. Because a GM knows that the AC to snag something with holds is 5, then a GM can make a reasonable judgment about what it is to snag the player with the grappling hook. Will all GMs come up with the same exact number? No. But because there is a rule about what the baseline AC is to snag something, you've reduced the range of AC's players will encounter. The difference between AC 5 or 6 or 7 is minimal.

But if there was no rule and one GM says it's AC 20 and another says it's AC 2, then you're going to get extremely different outcomes in the scenario. Suddenly the same scenario is a LOT harder based on who GMs. That's not what PFS wants. The more table variation players experience when it comes to mechanics, the harder it is for PFS to make use of feedback on a scenario's difficulty.

It's nonsensical to try and "codify" the reactions to spells. It is prudent to provide RAW setting information that narrows the range of reactions. Scenarios already do this, they just don't normally do it with respect to magic use at parties.

Quote:
You take away all dynamic of difference, which is what you are asking for, then the game becomes about rolling dice and who has the highest stats, instead of about the story being told.

I think you're overstating the case and it makes your position less reasonable. I can't agree that a blog which says:

"...these X spells are frequently cast in social settings and generally elicit no negative reactions,"

is tantamount to "taking away all the dynamic difference" between GMs. On the contrary, it enables subtle or distinct differences to become apparent. As Jiggy suggests, it suddenly allows the one Senator who does react negatively to be unique. The author has a tool to make him a person of interest. What is he afraid of? What is he trying to hide? Does he have some interesting background that the GM is allowed to flesh out?

If some random NPC has no impact on the plot, then the GM could certainly role play that NPC as having some non-conformist attitude to wards magic.

Andrew, I appreciate your background and understand your perspective. But I can tell that we disagree on what makes PFS special compared to random home/FLGS games. My guess is you probably did not like the GM-as-Written rule. For me, this is one of the single greatest requirements in PFS-organized play.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Arkos wrote:

Standard: Dogs are outdoor creatures. Dogs should not be on couches.

Situation: Dog jumps up on a couch.

Well that's just it, there is no one world wide (or even culture wide) standard for a lot of real things in the real world, why should something in a fantasy world be different?

If you grew up with dogs your whole life, can tell a happy dog that wants a belly rub from one that wants to eat your face then there's nothing to worry about. If someone's from a region that doesn't normally keep them as pets then they might freak out.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Arkos wrote:

Standard: Dogs are outdoor creatures. Dogs should not be on couches.

Situation: Dog jumps up on a couch.

Well that's just it, there is no one world wide (or even culture wide) standard for a lot of real things in the real world, why should something in a fantasy world be different?

If you grew up with dogs your whole life, can tell a happy dog that wants a belly rub from one that wants to eat your face then there's nothing to worry about. If someone's from a region that doesn't normally keep them as pets then they might freak out.

But we do know that most people in the world won't kill a dog for jumping on the couch, or run away screaming, just because a lot of dogs are used as attack dogs. But some GMs seem to think that most people will react to magic that way.

Shadow Lodge

RainyDayNinja wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Arkos wrote:

Standard: Dogs are outdoor creatures. Dogs should not be on couches.

Situation: Dog jumps up on a couch.

Well that's just it, there is no one world wide (or even culture wide) standard for a lot of real things in the real world, why should something in a fantasy world be different?

If you grew up with dogs your whole life, can tell a happy dog that wants a belly rub from one that wants to eat your face then there's nothing to worry about. If someone's from a region that doesn't normally keep them as pets then they might freak out.

But we do know that most people in the world won't kill a dog for jumping on the couch, or run away screaming, just because a lot of dogs are used as attack dogs. But some GMs seem to think that most people will react to magic that way.

Thing is, in Golorian, there are places like Ustalov and Mendev where you might pause a heartbeat when the Dogs started to act funny. People who never saw dogs might react strangely.

We, the players, are ones who have never seen magic in RL(I personally want a RL Eidolon to bring to conventions) and as people who've never seen magic, they overreact.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

On the contrary. I like the GM as written rule. Just don't take the areas of a scenario that I can affect away from me.

As we've had this latest discussion, it appears as though your stance is becoming a bit softer and we aren't that far apart on what we want the blog to do. But I certainly think Arkos's idea of specific sentences is a bad idea. A more nebulous fluff piece the expands on what the ISWG and maybe consolidates things like the illegality of invisibility in Absalom and divine magic in Rahadoum is a good idea.

I don't think that a baseline for roleplay should be written like a rule.

Silver Crusade

I agree that role playing such as NPC reaction shouldn't be codified.

On the other hand, I'll worry about how much of a straight jacket PFS GMs are in when GMs start going along with what has already been codified. There's enough trouble there already.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

No new posts? Sad. I love this topic.

We just got hung up on a metaphor again, so I think it's time we did away with them.

Magic is a rocket launcher/genie's lamp/EZ-bake oven/doc-in-a-box/friend maker/communicator/infrared goggles/man's best friend/Internet/weather changer/rewriter of the rules of the universe/etc etc etc...

Show me a real-world comparison, and I will happily handle a metaphor. But I can't think of one. Arguing that dogs are treated differently in different countries doesn't precisely help this conversation, since the whole realm of doghood is entirely dwarfed by the possibilities that are associated with magic.

But since we need something to wrap our heads around, I'll ask this. But when I ask it, I promise you that I am considering that there are exceptions, circumstances, and variations that would change your answer from this very generalized question.

When you GM PFS and a scenario doesn't specifically guide you, do you usually consider the PCs to be travelling through a generally magic-light world like LOTR, or a generally magic-dense world like Hogwarts, or somewhere in between? Where on that spectrum would you consider Absalom?

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Considering that most Rent-A-Thugs carry at least a healing potion, I'd consider magic as generally provoking no reaction aside from a few turned heads.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Arkos wrote:
Show me a real-world comparison, and I will happily handle a metaphor

Genetic engineering.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Arkos wrote:
Show me a real-world comparison, and I will happily handle a metaphor
Genetic engineering.

Personally, I've never seen someone use genetic engineering to turn on the lights or wash their clothes. YMMV, I guess.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Arkos wrote:
Show me a real-world comparison, and I will happily handle a metaphor.

Spells are like things in pockets.

Someone's pocket could contain anything from a car key, to a piece of candy, to a knife, to a gun, to a remote detonator for the tactical nuke they already planted. You don't know. When someone reaches into their pocket, you know something's coming out, but you don't know what. You will make guesses or assumptions based on what you think is likely. Your guesses will vary based on circumstance (such as region of the bearer's body language/apparent attitude), but the norm in most cases is that the thing coming out is benign, because your experience your whole life has been that most things coming out of pockets are benign.

Someone's spell could be anything from light, to purify food and drink, to shocking grasp, to lightning bolt, to slay living. You don't know. When someone starts the babble-wiggle, you know something's coming out, but you don't know what. You will make guesses or assumptions based on what you think is likely. Your guesses will vary based on circumstance (such as region or the caster's body language/apparent attitude), but the norm in most cases is that the spell being cast is benign, because your experience your whole life has been that most spells being cast are benign.

Silver Crusade

Then there would be no need for high powered assassins to take down targets. All you need is a 6th level sorcerer who knows fireball.

"Hey, I don't know what he's casting, but it can't be bad, right?"
*boom*

And there goes a room of the high and mighty.

Simple rule for me: If they do not personally know you, they won't be happy about the spell. Circumstances might change that for good or I'll. The local priest will be known, and they know what he can do with magic. Then we have a wandering adventuring group, loaded up with all kinds of crazy weapons and armor, and some guy with none of that. He is assumed to be just as dangerous as the rest, but in some hidden and unknown way.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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RainyDayNinja wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Arkos wrote:
Show me a real-world comparison, and I will happily handle a metaphor
Genetic engineering.
Personally, I've never seen someone use genetic engineering to turn on the lights or wash their clothes. YMMV, I guess.

You are not hanging out with the right mad scientists...

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Alexander_Damocles wrote:

Then there would be no need for high powered assassins to take down targets. All you need is a 6th level sorcerer who knows fireball.

"Hey, I don't know what he's casting, but it can't be bad, right?"
*boom*

And there goes a room of the high and mighty.

Did you even read my post? Because you're very strongly implying I said some things that are very different than what I said. Your suggestion that anything I wrote could possibly lead to the conclusion that someone can just walk into a "room full of the high and mighty" and have his casting not be suspicious is asinine at best.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:

You recently ran me through a scenario in Rahadoum, where my cleric's magic was prohibited. Thus, I had to be careful not to cast spells in front of anyone I didn't intend to bust up. That should make Rahadoum feel different and unique, letting me, as you say, play in Golarion instead of vanilla world.

But what if what I experienced in Rahadoum—needing to avoid casting spells around NPCs—was what I normally encountered everywhere because some number of hypothetical GMs think magic is rare and mysterious and casting would cause a ruckus? Now suddenly Rahadoum isn't special anymore. Going from "Casting in front of NPCs is a no-no" to "Casting in front of NPCs is a no-no for a more specific reason" takes Rahadoum's flavor away and ruins any sense of "I'm playing in Golarion".

Rahadoum still remains VERY different. Pretty much no matter where you are anywhere else, you save a dying man with a quickly placed cure spell or breath of life, you're going to be pretty well regarded by the local populace. Do the same act in Rahadoum, and you're going to be hunted down by the Pure Legion, regardless of mitigating circumstances. It may be the gratitude of some of the people around you that might be the only thing that saves your life.

Silver Crusade

@Jiggy:

My post wasn't aimed at you. If it came across that way, I apologize.

In general, I feel like trying to tell GMs how they have to run the world won't turn out well. If I rule a certain way, and a player responds "no, you have to let magic work like this", then as a GM I'm likely to be less than pleased with the rest of the session.

I might think some NPCs are more attracted to magic (little kids and prestidigitation), while others should be more afraid (battle scarred warrior of Mendev). Kyle Baird might rule that the kid was orphaned by a stray fireball, and is thus terrified of magic, while the warrior of Mendev is lazy and likes it when spells do all the work for him. And you know what? Both results are acceptable. Both tell a story. And chaining a GM to a set of guidelines doesn't help tell a story.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
In general, I feel like trying to tell GMs how they have to run the world won't turn out well. If I rule a certain way, and a player responds "no, you have to let magic work like this", then as a GM I'm likely to be less than pleased with the rest of the session.

Shouldn't it work the other way as well? If I make a diplomatic Sorcerer, and have a good time casting charm person with no consequences under one GM, but the next GM says "Oh, you're casting a spell in front of an NPC? That's a hostile act; roll for initiative!", then as a player I'm likely to be less than pleased with the rest of the session.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
I might think some NPCs are more attracted to magic (little kids and prestidigitation), while others should be more afraid (battle scarred warrior of Mendev). Kyle Baird might rule that the kid was orphaned by a stray fireball, and is thus terrified of magic, while the warrior of Mendev is lazy and likes it when spells do all the work for him. And you know what? Both results are acceptable. Both tell a story. And chaining a GM to a set of guidelines doesn't help tell a story.

I might think some NPCs are more attracted to diplomacy (shop owners who normally have to deal with lots of idiots), while others should be more afraid (politicians expecting manipulation). Kyle Baird might rule that the shop owner was swindled by lots of fast-talkers, and thus diplomacy auto-fails against him, while the politician is eager to please and likes having easy requests made of him. And you know what? Both results are acceptable. Both tell a story. And chaining a GM to the diplomacy rules doesn't help tell a story.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Alexander_Damocles wrote:
In general, I feel like trying to tell GMs how they have to run the world won't turn out well. If I rule a certain way, and a player responds "no, you have to let magic work like this", then as a GM I'm likely to be less than pleased with the rest of the session

How is that different from any other setting information that's come out? How is it different than telling me the price of a backpack or the availability of dinosaur animal companions in a tundra or that the Worldwound is in Mendev? Maybe I mention to my players that the Worldwound as in Alkenstar. The setting tells me differently, and if a player pointed out that I as a GM were wrong about setting information, am I likely to be less than pleased for the rest of the session?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Jiggy wrote:


I might think some NPCs are more attracted to diplomacy (shop owners who normally have to deal with lots of idiots), while others should be more afraid (politicians expecting manipulation). Kyle Baird might rule that the shop owner was swindled by lots of fast-talkers, and thus diplomacy auto-fails against him, while the politician is eager to please and likes having easy requests made of him. And you know what? Both results are acceptable. Both tell a story. And chaining a GM to the diplomacy rules doesn't help tell a story.

Even in PFS there aren't rules for everything.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Jiggy wrote:


I might think some NPCs are more attracted to diplomacy (shop owners who normally have to deal with lots of idiots), while others should be more afraid (politicians expecting manipulation). Kyle Baird might rule that the shop owner was swindled by lots of fast-talkers, and thus diplomacy auto-fails against him, while the politician is eager to please and likes having easy requests made of him. And you know what? Both results are acceptable. Both tell a story. And chaining a GM to the diplomacy rules doesn't help tell a story.
Even in PFS there aren't rules for everything.

Agreed. What were you trying to get at with that statement?

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