Dealing with personality conflicts, out-of-game


Pathfinder Society

Silver Crusade

I'm new to PFS, having just started playing a few months ago. I *love* playing PFRPG, and most of the PFS events I've attended have been great. The vast majority of people in my local PFS enthusiast group are decent, nice people.

Unfortunately, we do have some bad eggs. One of them happens to be the guy who organizes our events. He's unpleasant to say the least - actively trying to run off new players, kill the tables he GMs, and just being a general all-around ogre. The people I speak to in the group all agree with this assessment but they just shrug and say, "That's him."

I think they put up with it because, for all his faults, he does keep PFS running and organized. I want to love PFS and play more of it, but I feel that it's inevitable that I'll come into conflict with this person - especially if I GM more. This PFS group is the only one close to me, so it's not like I can just go somewhere else. I've made friends among the other players so I'd hate to leave all that behind.

Any advice?

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 4

I recommend contacting your regional coordinator (venture-captain or venture-lieutenant). If the person in question is a venture-officer, contact the organized play coordinator pathfindersociety@paizo.com (Mike Brock).
I hope that helps.

Liberty's Edge

Steve's got what may be the best advice. For minor conflicts, a simple face-to-face conversation can often be all that's needed to hash things out. But when problems run deeper, trying to confront the offender (especially when they are in a position of authority) can be counter-productive.

Fortunately PFS has venture officers in place to help with these more awkward situations.

In the meantime, I guess I have a few suggestions (because maybe others won't be able to offer you help in a timely fashion):

1) Organize your own game days. Yes, it's a lot of work, but maybe you and some of your new friends can play on a different night or at a different venue (even at home).

2) Try to sign up only for games the problem GM isn't running.

3) Try playing PFS online. I can't make it to a local game night every week, so I participate in a number of play-by-post games. The roleplaying and character development in this format BLOWS AWAY anything I've ever seen at a PFS table. Only home games have ever come close to matching it, IMO.

Anyway, best of luck to you as you seek a workable solution!

Silver Crusade

Thank you both for your helpful replies! I'll investigate all that you suggested.

Silver Crusade

Derek Weil wrote:

...trying to confront the offender (especially when they are in a position of authority) can be counter-productive.

Hit the nail on the head there.

Derek Weil wrote:


Fortunately PFS has venture officers in place to help with these more awkward situations.

In the meantime, I guess I have a few suggestions (because maybe others won't be able to offer you help in a timely fashion):

1) Organize your own game days. Yes, it's a lot of work, but maybe you and some of your new friends can play on a different night or at a different venue (even at home).

How does one go about that? I mean, I know how to set up a regular PFRPG game at my house, but how would one organize an officially-sanctioned PFS event? I'm sure there's an FAQ link somewhere.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Dilbert principle: promote to the point where they can do no harm.

DM yourself. The less he's dming, the less he;s killing players and driving out the newbies.

Also be aware that Idaho, not being the most populace state and this being a small community, there's a good chance he knows you're talking about him or will soon.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

There's a one-sheet guide to starting your own PFS chapter available at http://paizo.com/download/pathfinder/PFSOneSheet.zip.

Silver Crusade

BigNorseWolf wrote:

ware that Idaho, not being the most populace state and this being a small community, there's a good chance he knows you're talking about him or will soon.

Believe me, I debated a long time before asking questions on such a public forum.

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Washington—Spokane

TechieMoe wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

ware that Idaho, not being the most populace state and this being a small community, there's a good chance he knows you're talking about him or will soon.

Believe me, I debated a long time before asking questions on such a public forum.
TechieMoe, which location do you attend your game days? I am based in WA (if you play in Idaho as Big Norse Wolf indicated) and would like to help in any way I can. You can contact me at spokanepfs@gmail.com. Thanks.

Lantern Lodge

TechieMoe wrote:
How does one go about that? I mean, I know how to set up a regular PFRPG game at my house, but how would one organize an officially-sanctioned PFS event? I'm sure there's an FAQ link somewhere.

The very short answer is that it's not hard at all if you have the players.

1). Select the people you want to game with, and confirm they will come.
2). Pick your scenario/module/AP.
3). Go online at Paizo with your PFS account, register the scenario/module/AP your (or whoever is elected) will run. Make sure to put down the date and get your event number.
4). Run your game at home. Hand out and sign chronicle sheets as appropriate.
5). Report results under the event you registered.

For a single table of friends, that's all you need to do. It's when you host multiple tables and events that it gets more complicated.


To be clear, there's no such thing, really, as an "officially sanctioned" PFS event. If you're playing PFS by the rules in the Guide to Organized Play, it's sanctioned. What you're asking about is setting up a public event.

To do that, you set up an event (like your home game) and decide you're using the PFS rules, and advertise it publicly. Done. :)


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
TechieMoe wrote:

I'm new to PFS, having just started playing a few months ago. I *love* playing PFRPG, and most of the PFS events I've attended have been great. The vast majority of people in my local PFS enthusiast group are decent, nice people.

Unfortunately, we do have some bad eggs. One of them happens to be the guy who organizes our events. He's unpleasant to say the least - actively trying to run off new players, kill the tables he GMs, and just being a general all-around ogre. The people I speak to in the group all agree with this assessment but they just shrug and say, "That's him."

I think they put up with it because, for all his faults, he does keep PFS running and organized. I want to love PFS and play more of it, but I feel that it's inevitable that I'll come into conflict with this person - especially if I GM more. This PFS group is the only one close to me, so it's not like I can just go somewhere else. I've made friends among the other players so I'd hate to leave all that behind.

Any advice?

Does he intentionally change the rules of the engagement, add monsters /remove monsters, randomly adjust tactics, or otherwise change the scenario to kill players? There is one GM local to me who is known for running a hard table, but in my experience it is usually fair. Sometimes he misses something in a scenario, but I am fairly sure we have all done that. There was one session where I kept adding accidentally high tier monsters to the low tier (I noticed my mistake and removed them and the damage they had dealt from the game after a couple rounds).

If you really want to go to the venue just go. The person in question is only going to be able to be at one table. Who knows maybe if you spend some more time there you may learn to get along with this person too. There was a guy in college I couldn't stand until I learned that him sounding overconfident was just his way of presenting an argument and that he was expecting me to come up with a counter claim.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

With regards to killing players...

Some people feel that a difficult game is a good game. To some extent they're right. Everyone has a different idea of how bloody they like the game. If he's not cheating or going wildly off script with the tacts, its difficult to call the way they want to do it wrong.

Personally i like to ratchet it up by level. For level 1's its no fun dying just because of 1 die roll. Level 5's you can usually smack around a bit, and by level 7 or so killing you should be nothing but a big inconvenience.

Silver Crusade

Lormyr wrote:

The very short answer is that it's not hard at all if you have the players.

1). Select the people you want to game with, and confirm they will come.
2). Pick your scenario/module/AP.
3). Go online at Paizo with your PFS account, register the scenario/module/AP your (or whoever is elected) will run. Make sure to put down the date and get your event number.
4). Run your game at home. Hand out and sign chronicle sheets as appropriate.
5). Report results under the event you registered.

For a single table of friends, that's all you need to do. It's when you host multiple tables and events that it gets more complicated.

Thanks, Lormyr and Jeff for clearing that up. I was under the mistaken impression that to host a PFS game I had to go through my local area's venture officers. Were I to host my own, it would be at home with friends, not a public event. That makes things simpler.

Silver Crusade

Preston Hudson wrote:


TechieMoe, which location do you attend your game days? I am based in WA (if you play in Idaho as Big Norse Wolf indicated) and would like to help in any way I can. You can contact me at spokanepfs@gmail.com. Thanks.

I'm actually not in Idaho, sorry.

Silver Crusade

Mahtobedis wrote:


Does he intentionally change the rules of the engagement, add monsters /remove monsters, randomly adjust tactics, or otherwise change the scenario to kill players? There is one GM local to me who is known for running a hard table, but in my experience it is usually fair. Sometimes he misses something in a scenario, but I am fairly sure we have all done that. There was one session where I kept adding accidentally high tier monsters to the low tier (I noticed my mistake and removed them and the damage they had dealt from the game after a couple rounds).

If you really want to go to the venue just go. The person in question is only going to be able to be at one table. Who knows maybe if you spend some more time there you may learn to get along with this person too. There was a guy in college I couldn't stand until I learned that him sounding overconfident was just his way of presenting an argument and that he was expecting me to come up with a counter claim.

To the best of my knowledge he never intentionally breaks rules. It's more about his attitude toward the players in-game and people in general out of game. He just has an abrasive, rude personality. He brags about his number of TPKs and makes snide comments when players ask questions he thinks are silly.

To answer someone else's point - I understand that some GMs like to make their sessions harder. Difficulty isn't the issue - being a jerk when you cause critical damage to a PC by announcing it to the whole store and laughing is.

Don't worry, I already avoid being at his table. And sadly, I don't see myself ever being able to swallow his particular personality quirks.

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Washington—Spokane

TechieMoe wrote:
Preston Hudson wrote:


TechieMoe, which location do you attend your game days? I am based in WA (if you play in Idaho as Big Norse Wolf indicated) and would like to help in any way I can. You can contact me at spokanepfs@gmail.com. Thanks.
I'm actually not in Idaho, sorry.

No worries. with the mention of Idaho, I thought I could help locally.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
TechieMoe wrote:


To the best of my knowledge he never intentionally breaks rules. It's more about his attitude toward the players in-game and people in general out of game. He just has an abrasive, rude personality. He brags about his number of TPKs and makes snide comments when players ask questions he thinks are silly.

To answer someone else's point - I understand that some GMs like to make their sessions harder. Difficulty isn't the issue - being a jerk when you cause critical damage to a PC by announcing it to the whole store and laughing is.

Don't worry, I already avoid being at his table. And sadly, I don't see myself ever being able to swallow his particular personality quirks.

What type of comments does he make that are snide? Sorry if I seem a bit obtuse. I'm just trying to grasp your situation. Unfortunately I am not there so I don't know first hand.

I do find it somewhat amazing that he is able to brag about TPKs. The hardest GM in my area only has one or two TPK's out of over 150 games. Now bragging about player character deaths, that I can understand. Among GM's who like to play hard tables they sometimes view number of characters who have died as a benchmark to how difficultly they have run the scenario.

Out of curiosity, when he crits does he actually stand up and tell everyone to listen to him while he laughingly tells them all that he crit? Because if he is then I agree completely that he is acting like an Ogre.

Now if he just happens to be really happy when he sees a crit, I don't think any of us can fault that. It is fun to get a crit on both sides of the GM screen. I get really excited when my samurai crits and I know the monster is dead (currently 138 damage minimum), and I also get excited when I crit a player (unless it is at lower levels and the death might actually be a significant setback for the player then I feel bad [unless the player is a jerk]).

As other people have said, if you aren't able to confront him about the things he is doing that you don't like then the next best thing is probably to just not play at his tables.

Silver Crusade

Mahtobedis wrote:


What type of comments does he make that are snide? Sorry if I seem a bit obtuse. I'm just trying to grasp your situation. Unfortunately I am not there so I don't know first hand.

I do find it somewhat amazing that he is able to brag about TPKs. The hardest GM in my area only has one or two TPK's out of over 150 games. Now bragging about player character deaths, that I can understand. Among GM's who like to play hard tables they sometimes view number of characters who have died as a benchmark to how difficultly they have run the scenario.

Out of curiosity, when he crits does he actually stand up and tell everyone to listen to him while he laughingly tells them all that he crit? Because if he is then I agree completely that he is acting like an Ogre.

I think his exact words at our last meet up were [edits mine], "BAM! That's a crit, b***h!"

When someone asked if they could do a knowledge check at one point during the game (and didn't specify what type of knowledge) rather than asking them the type he said, "No, we don't do knowledge something checks!"

You may not consider that snide, but I do.

Quote:


As other people have said, if you aren't able to confront him about the things he is doing that you don't like then the next best thing is probably to just not play at his tables.

That seems to be the prevailing wisdom, which I already do. In the meantime I'm looking into doing more home games with my friends, and trying to get some of the folks I play with at the store to come. In my experience (for whatever reason) it's easier to get someone to come play at a store than at someone's house.

Dark Archive

While the GM in question does sound like a jerk, remember that it is the GM's job to be the antagonist to the players. I know it might look like we're maliciously trying to kill your characters, but we're secretly rooting for them the entire time.

Grand Lodge

Victor Zajic wrote:
While the GM in question does sound like a jerk, remember that it is the GM's job to be the antagonist to the players. I know it might look like we're maliciously trying to kill your characters, but we're secretly rooting for them the entire time.

Well ... most of us are.

Unfortunately, some GMs still view the game as us vs. them.

Dark Archive 4/5

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Victor Zajic wrote:
While the GM in question does sound like a jerk, remember that it is the GM's job to be the antagonist to the players. I know it might look like we're maliciously trying to kill your characters, but we're secretly rooting for them the entire time.

I don't do a good job of secretly rooting for them, I tend to cheer when they get out of a bad spot :P


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
TechieMoe wrote:
Mahtobedis wrote:


What type of comments does he make that are snide? Sorry if I seem a bit obtuse. I'm just trying to grasp your situation. Unfortunately I am not there so I don't know first hand.

I do find it somewhat amazing that he is able to brag about TPKs. The hardest GM in my area only has one or two TPK's out of over 150 games. Now bragging about player character deaths, that I can understand. Among GM's who like to play hard tables they sometimes view number of characters who have died as a benchmark to how difficultly they have run the scenario.

Out of curiosity, when he crits does he actually stand up and tell everyone to listen to him while he laughingly tells them all that he crit? Because if he is then I agree completely that he is acting like an Ogre.

I think his exact words at our last meet up were [edits mine], "BAM! That's a crit, b***h!"

When someone asked if they could do a knowledge check at one point during the game (and didn't specify what type of knowledge) rather than asking them the type he said, "No, we don't do knowledge something checks!"

You may not consider that snide, but I do.

Quote:


As other people have said, if you aren't able to confront him about the things he is doing that you don't like then the next best thing is probably to just not play at his tables.
That seems to be the prevailing wisdom, which I already do. In the meantime I'm looking into doing more home games with my friends, and trying to get some of the folks I play with at the store to come. In my experience (for whatever reason) it's easier to get someone to come play at a store than at someone's house.

Yep, this guys sounds like an a** hole. There really is no excuse for referring to a player with swear words.

I can see how that comment he made could be phrased in a way to be snide.

The Exchange 5/5

Victor Zajic wrote:
While the GM in question does sound like a jerk, remember that it is the GM's job to be the antagonist to the players. I know it might look like we're maliciously trying to kill your characters, but we're secretly rooting for them the entire time.

Victor, I respectfully disagree with your views expressed above.

Grand Lodge

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nosig wrote:
Victor Zajic wrote:
While the GM in question does sound like a jerk, remember that it is the GM's job to be the antagonist to the players. I know it might look like we're maliciously trying to kill your characters, but we're secretly rooting for them the entire time.

Victor, I respectfully disagree with your views expressed above.

I agree with nosig on this one Victor. When judging, for me, the story is more important than the combats in 90% of the cases. (I've played through Bonekeep and that's the one time I've seen that combat is more important than the story.)

As judge, I want to challenge the PCs, but it's not ME who's challenging them, it's the bad guys and encounters that the writer has provided me to deliver those challenges, I'm just the puppet master making those monsters do what they do. I'm sitting at under ~15 PFS scenarios and no character deaths. I've had a few close calls, but I don't pull my punches. I don't bask in the glory of the moment when a creature crits with a x4 weapon, because it wasn't me who crit, but that creature. There's a difference between being a jerk and being a good judge. There's a paragraph in the GM 101 that best explains my viewpoint. (Bolding for emphasis.)

GM 101 wrote:

Killing PCs

PC death should be fairly rare. A GM’s job is to create a fun
time for the players, so don’t adopt a GM vs. player mentality.
That said, PC deaths do happen for any number of reasons.
A GM should try to avoid PC deaths with less-experienced
players and lower tiers. PC death is more acceptable at the
higher tiers and with more experienced players.

The Exchange 5/5

nosig wrote:
Victor Zajic wrote:
While the GM in question does sound like a jerk, remember that it is the GM's job to be the antagonist to the players. I know it might look like we're maliciously trying to kill your characters, but we're secretly rooting for them the entire time.

Victor, I respectfully disagree with your views expressed above.

When I encounter judges who are openly antagonistic to the players, I avoid playing with them in the future. And advice my friends to avoid them if possible.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

I think you might be reading too much into it. "Who's trying to kill us tonight?" is another way of saying "Who's dming. Hyping up the danger is part of the DMs job. If there's no posibility of failure it takes a bit out of the success.

Grand Lodge

BNW, from one experience of mine, there is a difference between telling the players "Best be on your A-game tonight. There's a good chance someone is going to die." and "If I don't kill someone tonight, I'm going to feel like a failure of a GM." (The second is something I experienced and the GM that night ended up getting extremely upset and bloodthirsty by the time we reached the BBEG.)

Shadow Lodge

TechieMoe wrote:
kill the tables he GMs

Killing player's is a bad thing? Oops

The Exchange 5/5

Keht wrote:
TechieMoe wrote:
kill the tables he GMs
Killing player's is a bad thing? Oops

Killing Players? bad...

Killing PCs? exceptable...

The Exchange 5/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
I think you might be reading too much into it. "Who's trying to kill us tonight?" is another way of saying "Who's dming. Hyping up the danger is part of the DMs job. If there's no posibility of failure it takes a bit out of the success.

We can all tell the difference between the judge who is hard but fair, and the one who jumps up and dances in a circle because he killed the 13 year old girls Elf Wizard. I've played with both types of judges - and the first one had the best "crazed goblin" laugh for his goblin sorcerer. The second stopped his dance long enough to point at the girls older brother and said "And you're next".

Needless to say, I never played with that judge again.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Nosig wrote:
We can all tell the difference between the judge who is hard but fair, and the one who jumps up and dances in a circle because he killed the 13 year old girls Elf Wizard. I've played with both types of judges

What if i fairly kill the 13 year old girls elven wizard?

Grand Lodge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
I think you might be reading too much into it. "Who's trying to kill us tonight?" is another way of saying "Who's dming. Hyping up the danger is part of the DMs job. If there's no posibility of failure it takes a bit out of the success.

This.

Complete idiots (like the one nosig is referring to) aside, this is exactly right.

I think part of the problem in the 'antagonistic GM' department can sometimes be traced to the player, though. Not to say that the GM cant be at fault, but some players are just overly sensitive to you attacking them or doing anything against them.

I have had the following (paraphrased) conversation literally a half dozen times at least:

Me: The monster hits you.
Player: Why are you targetting me? You keep hitting me!
Me: ...Because you went before him on initiative and based him...because you are the only target in the room...because you are the tank and its kinda of your job. Pick one. :P

Now I dont go out of my way to pick on a specific player at the table, but if that player later wanted to complain about me being antagonistic against him, he very well could make that claim, despite the amount of truth to the situation.


Seth Gipson wrote:
Now I dont go out of my way to pick on a specific player at the table, but if that player later wanted to complain about me being antagonistic against him, he very well could make that claim, despite the amount of truth to the situation.

I think the problem you're running into here is that there's always a way to rationalize who you attack and why. The flip side is that there is always a way to rationalize why you don't need to attack an individual. If the player doesn't want to get hit, then she is going to focus on the reasons why you should not be attacking her. As a GM, you'll focus on reasons that validate your decision.

Liberty's Edge

I prefer it when the GM shows his/her glee or disappointment via the NPC's/BBEGs words and actions. The DM dancing with glee OOC when he or she has killed a 13 year old's character is bad behavior in my book. On the other hand, if the DM roleplays out:

The huge black dragon, smoking acid dripping from its great maw, clutches the fallen body of the elven maiden in one claw, then chuckles with malicious glee and says in a deep and threatening tone, "THAT is what happens to lesser beings who challenge the might of the great Valmythramax!" The vile wyrm then wheels, fixing the stalwart knight of Iomadae with a baleful glance. It then hisses in a barely audible tone, "You shall be next to feel my wrath, vermin!"

The same thing with the characters. I think it's much more fun for most everyone else (DM included) when you roleplay out your cheering, posturing, and strutting.

The feral barbarian, standing atop the huge smoking corpse of the slain black wyrm, raises his miniature great axe above his head with both hands and shakes it while letting out a barbaric yalp, "BLARK AM THE GREATEST!!!"

EDITED: to remove gender bias

Dark Archive

nosig wrote:
Victor Zajic wrote:
While the GM in question does sound like a jerk, remember that it is the GM's job to be the antagonist to the players. I know it might look like we're maliciously trying to kill your characters, but we're secretly rooting for them the entire time.

Victor, I respectfully disagree with your views expressed above.

There is a different between being the antagonist, which is a function that is required in the kind of storytelling we are doing, and being overly antagonistic, which is trying to 'win' the game by killing all the PCs.

When I'm playing Torch, I want to players to hate me for manipulating them into doing the bidding of someone they absolutely despise. And when I'm playing a pack of wolves, I want the players to beleive that I'll kill and eat their characters if they don't do something about it. And while I don't actually want to kill anyone's character(the vast majority of the time), my job is to trick the players into beleiving otherwise.

At least that's my take on it. I feel it creates dramatic tension and a beleivable threat that aids in immersion and storytelling.

Grand Lodge

N N 959 wrote:
Seth Gipson wrote:
Now I dont go out of my way to pick on a specific player at the table, but if that player later wanted to complain about me being antagonistic against him, he very well could make that claim, despite the amount of truth to the situation.

I think the problem you're running into here is that there's always a way to rationalize who you attack and why. The flip side is that there is always a way to rationalize why you don't need to attack an individual. If the player doesn't want to get hit, then she is going to focus on the reasons why you should not be attacking her. As a GM, you'll focus on reasons that validate your decision.

I understand that. I basically meant sometimes it not really the fault of the GM, but the player's skewed perspective.

And again, Im not saying that is always the case, just that it could be. :)

The Exchange 5/5

Old story time - Some time back (season 2 or early season 3 maybe), I was sittig in on a game with strangers (this happens to me often, I like to travel around some). In the scenario, some of the PCs get dumped into water and have to fight a monster with several attacks. As luck would have it, my PC ends up in the water with another players PC, and the strangest thing happened...
.
The other PC is a bard, and mine is sort of a meat shield. The monster moves to attack the bard and swings once (due to moving, only one attack). I move (swim) next to the monster, and swing. The bard withdraws to behind my PC. I figured the monster would swing 3 times on me but instead it swims around my PC (giving me an AOO) to attack the bard again. I swing, and again the bard withdraws behind me and again the monster swims around me (my guy gets another AOO) to go after the bard with one attack. The Bard player rolls her eyes and we repeat this several times (4 or 5 rounds I think). It looked crazy to me, the monster was effectively giving me an extra attack each round (as it moved past me), and limiting itself to only 1/3 of it's attacks, but I didn't know what the monsters tactics were so (shrug). What do I know, maybe the judge is playing the monster crazy to give us a better chance, right?

After the game as we are heading out the door of the shop, I told the bard that I was sorry my guy didn't hit harder and drop the monster sooner, as she had to suffer the extra attacks that almost killed her. And then she said something that put it into an entirely different light... "yeah, he's upset with me, I killed him a while back, so he's been going after my PCs sense then. And if he'd dropped me in the water, I'd have drowned before someone could fish me out. So thanks for blocking for me." With this she smiled, shrugged and headed out.

We were playing at Sub-tier 3-4 I think, so a dead PC would likely have been perm dead...

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