Forbidding players from my PFS table


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The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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This thread makes me sad.

As GMs, and coordinators, and even as players, we serve as ambassadors to the gaming playerbase about how cool Pathfinder, and its Organized Play arm, are.

There are certainly stinkers who come to our games, but honestly I haven't found that many of them. And they come in all sorts of stinky flavors.

I've run a lot of tables, and I can count on one hand the number of players I wouldn't want to see back under any circumstances.

There are people who role-play annoying characters. Virtually all of them tone it down when asked politely. There are guys who build PCs designed to wade through combat like a hot knife through butter golems. They are amenable to cooperating when this is pointed out, or they self-select to play with other characters a level or two higher than them.

Roll dice. Tell stories. Meet new friends. Explore. Report. Cooperate.

Silver Crusade

I've had some quasi-disagreements with Chris before, but on this I agree 100%. I don't think exclusion is a good policy.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

Chris Mortika wrote:
Roll dice. Tell stories. Meet new friends. Explore. Report. Cooperate.

And I certainly do.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
This Friday I get to decide if I continue to play Eyes of the Ten or drop out and wait for a different group.

Whoa, that's rough, man. Is it too late to back out of Part 1 and not get a Chronicle? That's the best one in the series.

-Matt

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

Already completed. I'm hand picking a table to GM it for, so it's no big deal.


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I recently DMed a table where I had a player bully me. Using he descirbed my DMing using nagative explicte language infront of eveyrone including his own 6ish year old, and another persons diabled child at the table when I followed the rules as written and did not adjust the game to make it easier for them. At the time I ignored it and continued the game because it was near the end and would make the situation less enjoyable for everyone else.

Now if that player sits aty my table again I will have a chat with him on what to expect, and what I expect of him.

By no means will I ban him from my table for that, but at the same time that attitude is not appreciated.

Scarab Sages 5/5 RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

TriOmegaZero wrote:
thejeff wrote:
I guess that's better than bailing at the last minute when people have already shown up, but it still seems like bad practice.
It's no different than signing up and then having a schedule conflict. No one can force you to run the game, but habits will certainly change the group dynamic. Always canceling when one player signs up without telling anyone what the issue is certainly will make you the bad guy.

It is different than a schedule conflict. You are intentionally breaking the commitment you made to GM the table. As an event organizer, if a GM did this to me more than once, I would no longer take GM signups from that person.

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

Rusty Ironpants wrote:
It is different than a schedule conflict. You are intentionally breaking the commitment you made to GM the table. As an event organizer, if a GM did this to me more than once, I would no longer take GM signups from that person.

You'd no longer take sign ups from a person that habitually had other commitments force him to cancel as well. No difference save your own tolerance.

And really, if your GM tells you 'I'm canceling this table because he is signed up for it', are you going to tell him to stop GMing the next time or tell that player to play at a different table?

Scarab Sages 5/5 RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Rusty Ironpants wrote:
It is different than a schedule conflict. You are intentionally breaking the commitment you made to GM the table. As an event organizer, if a GM did this to me more than once, I would no longer take GM signups from that person.

You'd no longer take sign ups from a person that habitually had other commitments force him to cancel as well. No difference save your own tolerance.

And really, if your GM tells you 'I'm canceling this table because he is signed up for it', are you going to tell him to stop GMing the next time or tell that player to play at a different table?

First, the GM doesn't get to cancel the table - only refuse to GM it. Cancelling the table should be up to the event organizer.

Unless I have had complaints from other players or GMs about the given player, then I am absolutely going to stop taking signups from that GM. Because when a GM cancels I then have to find a replacement GM for that table or no one gets to play.

However as many, including yourself, have suggested the best course of action would be for the GM to bring the matter to my or one of the VO's attention so we could attempt to resolve the matter ahead of time.

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

Rusty Ironpants wrote:
First, the GM doesn't get to cancel the table - only refuse to GM it. Cancelling the table should be up to the event organizer.

Right, poor choice of words on my part. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable reaction.

Shadow Lodge

For online games, I used to say synthesists were banned from my tables when they were playable, and I'd ask if the player had another character to use.

That's generally less of an issue than a public game though, especially when you're doing it on behalf of a local community - I wouldn't send a player with a synthesist home when I'm there on someone else's behalf.

It's handy if you know in advance what character the players are bringing, then you can respond to them before the game and tell them what your expectations are and what you're sensitive to (for yourself or for the other players).

Dark Archive 5/5 Venture-Captain, Florida—Tampa aka Dominick

Chris Mortika wrote:

There are people who role-play annoying characters. Virtually all of them tone it down when asked politely. There are guys who build PCs designed to wade through combat like a hot knife through butter golems. They are amenable to cooperating when this is pointed out, or they self-select to play with other characters a level or two higher than them.

Did you try this? Being blunt sometimes works. "Hey I am trying to have fun." Talk about how you feel, not what he does.

People do have different styles, but try Judging a different crew before you give it up.

Lantern Lodge 3/5

To the OP, Can't you run a private game?

If you run it in your own home for example, you can always just invite the players you want to GM for to the table.

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

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I've had some really good tables that way.

Silver Crusade

Thanks for the feedback from everyone. I've felt the same way before as a GM in dealing with Power Gamers/Rules Lawyer types. Each session gets easier as you learn how to GM better. Make sure you check character sheets as to what each player is playing before the game begins, that way you can be prepared for whatever comes your way.

Fact of the matter is, even the most skilled GMs don't have all the rules memorized for every type of situation. Sometimes the players lose sight of the fact the GM is trying to run a PFS event within a short window of time (4 hours or so). Good player etiquette is knowing exactly how your abilities work for your character.

Sometimes simply reminding everyone to help out and be prepared to answer questions about their abilities at the start of the game can go a long way. As a part of spell preparation for a caster, they should know the range of the spell, the effects and whether the spell gets a saving throw or not and what the save is given their specializations. If not, they go into delay until they have their action ready. If you have a player sundering items -- they should have a reference handy of different types of common items they intend to break. Same with grappling, tripping and other combat maneuvers. No harm in discussing beforehand how exactly a power gamer build works, because the power player is usually eager to tell you how clever their character is built and gives you an opportunity to have some counter measures in place at the start of the scenario.

The scope of the game is severely limited for PFS scenarios at the beginning years (designed for 4 players). Sometimes you are running full table of six requires some very *creative* GMing to make the scenario somewhat challenging. For instance, you can always modify the weather to affect visibility and so forth -- which complies with the PFS rules. Interesting how a thunder storm rolls in when more than four players shows up at the table... just resist the urge to lightning bolt the power gamer.

You can also make some minor situational changes. For instance, when you come up to that old abandoned warehouse with a mere 6 minions and a boss to challenge that the power leveler could wipe out all of them solo, you need to come up with some creative ideas without changing the content of the scenario to make it more challenging.

You could have the boss and two of the minions go out for drinks at the local tavern. Now they return after the second round of combat at the rear of the party. The setting could be at dark, so lighting could be an issue, as the minions firing long range weapons from the shadows. Maybe there is a ship or wagon nearby -- they found out by paid informant that a large group of adventures is looking for them while they were gathering information. The enemy decides to flee -- thus allowing the ranger to help track them and thus starts a chase scene. Who has ride animal, swim or profession sailor? (reviewing characters skills and professions beforehand can allow for some interesting roleplaying opportunities).

Give the boss some extra time to cast preparatory spells by having the players find a *set* of keys (2d4) for the locked door to the warehouse. Which one opens the door? (Try one key per swift action, standard action and movement action per 6 second round). Town guards giving the party a hard time and justifying their actions if they are disruptive in town or start fighting in front of witnesses.

When you run across that player character specialized in trip... sometimes its better to have the enemy fight from the ground at a -4 penalty. If you know that one of the players AC needs a natural 20 to hit, focus your attacks on the rest of the party. Maybe the power gamer has to spend his action binding wounds for a change. Spread your minions out -- don't let them all get caught in the area effect of a spell at once.

Vent to your local venture captain after a bad game is always a good start -- they are experienced and nice folks. They *want* you to keep GMing, so they don't always have to all the time! Plus, they dealt with the same types of players. Posting on forums is nice, but be prepared for a wide variety of feedback, positive and negative. Try not to give up over one player's actions.

As GM, you spend time preparing for the scenario and you want it to be entertaining and challenging at the same time. You will have good and bad sessions. So learn from the bad and remember the good times. Good luck!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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Patrick F wrote:
...The scope of the game is severely limited for PFS scenarios at the beginning years (designed for 4 players). Sometimes you are running full table of six requires some very *creative* GMing to make the scenario somewhat challenging. For instance, you can always modify the weather to affect visibility and so forth -- which complies with the PFS rules. Interesting how a thunder storm rolls in when more than four players shows up at the table... just resist the urge to lightning bolt the power gamer.

That sort of modification is good in a home game. It does not comply with the guidelines in Pathfinder Society. Please run the encounters as written.

Quote:

You can also make some minor situational changes. For instance, when you come up to that old abandoned warehouse with a mere 6 minions and a boss to challenge that the power leveler could wipe out all of them solo, you need to come up with some creative ideas without changing the content of the scenario to make it more challenging.

You could have the boss and two of the minions go out for drinks at the local tavern. Now they return after the second round of combat at the rear of the party.

Good in a home game. Not allowed in Pathfinder Society. Please run the encounters as written. In particular, do not change an enemy's stated tactics to give the party some challenge.

Quote:
The setting could be at dark, so lighting could be an issue, as the minions firing long range weapons from the shadows. Maybe there is a ship or wagon nearby -- they found out by paid informant that a large group of adventures is looking for them while they were gathering information. The enemy decides to flee -- thus allowing the ranger to help track them and thus starts a chase scene. Who has ride animal, swim or profession sailor? (reviewing characters skills and professions beforehand can allow for some interesting roleplaying opportunities).

Neither a change in lighting situations nor a change from a combat encounter to a chase encounter is allowed in PFS. Please run the encounters as written.

Quote:
Give the boss some extra time to cast preparatory spells by having the players find a *set* of keys (2d4) for the locked door to the warehouse. Which one opens the door? (Try one key per swift action, standard action and movement action per 6 second round).

No. Please run the encounters as written. Don't give the boss some extra prep time for buffing spells, just to make the encounter tougher. And here's why: when that change, that new challenge, kills the party, and when one of the players reads the scenario and realizes that you mucked around with the encounter, the players have a legitimate gripe. It doesn't matter whether you gave the boss extra time to buff, had him show up in Round Two behind the party, or changed his hobgoblin servants into trolls, just to give the party a challenge. Now, the store coordinator has to involve a Venture Officer, who has to adjudicate the situation, possibly reverse the deaths; it's a real mess.

Ask Mike Brock about the GM who inserted black dragons into a PFS scenario, just to give the party a challenge.

Now, of course, you and the people you're advising, have a much better grasp of encounter design than that guy. You know how to modify encounters so that the party gets challenged, but doesn't actually die. But they will use up more consumable gear, like healing wands or defensive magic. And so you will weaken them in future scenarios, where they might need that equipment. Also, even people running overclocked PCs get cold dice sometimes. So, you change the weather, forcing concentration checks to cast spells, or miss chances due to concealment, and the players start rolling in the single digits. And the PCs die. Maybe they would have died in the encounter as written, but we'll never know, because you decided to change up the encounter to make it more challenging.

Quote:
Town guards giving the party a hard time and justifying their actions if they are disruptive in town or start fighting in front of witnesses. ...

That's perfectly reasonable.


Chris Mortika wrote:
Ask Mike Brock about the GM who inserted black dragons into a PFS scenario, just to give the party a challenge.

Oooh, do tell, I want to hear this!

Also although I completely agree with all your points and stick to the scenarios completely myself, I think that it would be worth for future scenarios allowing GMs some lee-way at higher levels.

I am not talking about levels 1-5 (or even 1-7) where you have new players, or people learning the ropes and getting attached to their character etc. But for high level (by PFS standards) play of level 7-12 scenarios it would be great if there was some room given for GM flexibility.

I am not talking about adding creatures or abilities or anything like that but I really think that at those higher levels (where Players should be more prepared for harder fights anyway) that the TACTICS should be left to GM discretion, with just maybe some "suggested tactics".

I really can't see the problem with this if its kept to high levels and again only restricted to tactics.

But until a scenario is written to allow me that I will stick to the run as written rule.

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

CathalFM wrote:
Oooh, do tell, I want to hear this!

Horror stories

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

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A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.


Paz wrote:
CathalFM wrote:
Oooh, do tell, I want to hear this!
Horror stories

Thanks!


Michael Brock wrote:

A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.

I actually was aware of that and thought it was a great improvement, but again in my opinion (and it is only that, I dont have the facts and stats you have to make an informed decision), but in my opinion for high level encounters GMs should be given free reign with tactics alone.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

CathalFM wrote:
Paz wrote:
CathalFM wrote:
Oooh, do tell, I want to hear this!
Horror stories
Thanks!

Chris was referring to a Charlie Foxtrot running of Year of the Shadow Lodge special from a few years ago. Here are a few snippets in the very, very long email I still have in a folder. I'm not posting to embarrass anyone. I'm posting as an example of how out of control it can get when people start changing things to make the event more "epic." I have removed names and pronouns to not single anyone out. Most of the players in the event will advise they probably had a great, "epic" time. However, their experience is completely different playing YotSL than any other player's anywhere else in the world.

Very long Year of Shadow Lodge special spoilers:

Spoiler:

If the spell had a range of Medium we would count out the squares to other tables and how they could target. In general we just gave a basic yes/no to whether a spell could target another table. It worked out that anything with long was no problem and medium was an "overseer" call. The overseer ran all table to table transfers. If a player wanted to move, they moved off the map...raised their hand, The overseer came and got them and walked them to the new table. Informed the GM that whatever the turn order was when they walked in, put them in at that spot and their turn is done, they may act next time the order comes back around to them. So moving between tables meant you lost you're action most of the time. Whenever "too many" players went to a table, we had a dragon get up and fly to another table to draw a crowd with them.

We did not roll per table any random encounters. The GM's were told to run something close to tier appropriate goblins for each of their tables. We had print ups of all the stats in the scenario for each GM so they had the info in front of them easily. The overseer then spread out among the tables a total of 14 young black dragons, and 2 adult dragons. Both came in waves of 7 and 1.

We had them find some expendable items in the area's they were in. 10 Dragon bane arrows, 1 dragon slaying arrow, some alchemist fire's, all in the armory along with some master crafted stuff. The magisterium had some pearls of power at levels 1, 2 and 3 to pass some spells back out when I noticed we had been overloading them with dragon targets before the end of the scenario. There was also one scroll of raise dead in a lock box I gave back to the group because a PC had died in a dragon fight earlier that was a misunderstanding between the overseer and the table GM. The table GM used stats for an ancient dragon on accident, brought it to the overseer attention half way through, and Overseer said "have the next hit kill it...I'll take care of the death." The player was none the wiser and a cleric nearby had the material components for 3 remove negative levels for permanents. In the end...some gold was spent for a GM mistake. Overseer chalk this up to being his mistake for having sooooo many changes and things moving around.

Of the 11 PC's and one stegadon with animal growth engaging the Dragon, it was out actioned rather harshly. So...there is no nice way of saying this...there was outright cheating on the dragon.

Throughout the course of the fight The overseer would look at it's hitpoints, how low it was, the damage the PC's were doing to it with SR 25 while flying and a 41 AC (32 base, mage armor and -5/+5 combat expertise, all of which it has). It swung for a ton with power attack and combat expertise going for -10 to all attacks, but still was being punked around.

The overseer must of added between 400 and 600 hitpoints to the dragon at random to make the fight feel and seem epic. It did not run away. It put two PC's into death, both had to be breath of life back up, and one PC died, but had the gold to res and the PA to remove the negative levels.

I can go into more detail about the dragon fight if you would like, but suffice it to say we had to use some chicanery explanations to make them not ask "how does this dragon have 600+ hit points?" Ugh...Blur, stoneskin, resist energy, blah blah blah shennanigans. They started dispelling things off of it at one point going "Damn this dragon is prepared...".

Oh yes, we also increased the size of the black dragon from 15 to 20 feet, but kept all his stats and reach the same. We did this because someone had a rather awesome 4x4 black dragon model.

Lantern Lodge

Michael Brock wrote:

Chris was referring to a Charlie Foxtrot running of Year of the Shadow Lodge special from a few years ago. Here are a few snippets in the very, very long email I still have in a folder. I'm not posting to embarrass anyone. I'm posting as an example of how out of control it can get when people start changing things to make the event more "epic." I have removed names and pronouns to not single anyone out. Most of the players in the event will advise they probably had a great, "epic" time. However, their experience is completely different playing YotSL than any other player's anywhere else in the world.

Very long Year of Shadow Lodge special spoilers:
** spoiler omitted **...

Wow. Now that is a cluster f*** of epic proportions.

Just how hard is it to sort something like that out from your end? I imagine the fact that it was a special (was it still a minimum of 5 tables at that time?) made contacting all of the table's players that much more of a hassle.

Any GM can make an honest mistake from time to time (I know I have accidentally misread the stat block from the inccorect tier before), and I think for the most part that is very forgivable and very easily remedied at the table. I am not quite sure how I would have taken something this extreme if I was in those player's shoes, though.

5/5

Michael Brock wrote:

A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.

Having this text in the Guide is helpful but I think perhaps the use of "invalidate" might not be. How much has to change before a tactic is invalidated can be a very open question.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Mike, didn't you relate an issue with a GM who handed out swords of dragon-slaying to compensate for introducing inappropriate dragons? Or am I misremembering?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

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andreww wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:

A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.

Having this text in the Guide is helpful but I think perhaps the use of "invalidate" might not be. How much has to change before a tactic is invalidated can be a very open question.

If people are asking for the GM to be giving the ability to change tactics as they see fit, the first test is to see if they can properly adjudicate invalidated tactics. If a GM can't figure out if tactics have been invalidated, then do you really want to trust the same GM to change tactics to whatever they feel like?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

Chris Mortika wrote:
Mike, didn't you relate an issue with a GM who handed out swords of dragon-slaying to compensate for introducing inappropriate dragons? Or am I misremembering?

It was arrows, not swords. See my spoiler text.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

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Michael Brock wrote:
andreww wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:

A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.

Having this text in the Guide is helpful but I think perhaps the use of "invalidate" might not be. How much has to change before a tactic is invalidated can be a very open question.
If people are asking for the GM to be giving the ability to change tactics as they see fit, the first test is to see if they can properly adjudicate invalidated tactics. If a GM can't figure out if tactics have been invalidated, then do you really want to trust the same GM to change tactics to whatever they feel like?

Additionally, there are so many situations that would constitute what invalidating the tactics that it is impossible to list them all.

Just one example. If the tactics advise the bad guy drinks a potion when dropped to half HPs, but he is surrounded by 3 PCs, he is probably not going to drink that potion and take 3 AoO that will result in more damage than he would receive from the potion.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Ah, yes. Thank you for the correction.

And you're right; I hadn't recognized that a GM could turn a fight "in bad weather" into a fight in bad weather, but that's a different issue than introducing bad weather in the first place.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

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Chris Mortika wrote:

Ah, yes. Thank you for the correction.

And you're right; I hadn't recognized that a GM could turn a fight "in bad weather" into a fight in bad weather, but that's a different issue than introducing bad weather in the first place.

Correct and the reason I am hoping authors start writing more weather conditions into scenarios.


andreww wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:

A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.

Having this text in the Guide is helpful but I think perhaps the use of "invalidate" might not be. How much has to change before a tactic is invalidated can be a very open question.

I disagree, any word you use here is going to be open to interpretation, there is no other way to refer to every scenario. I think if you have to use a word then invalidate is perfect, it indicates that you can't change the tactics because something else would be more advantageous, only that you can change them if they are actually invalid.

ie

Described tactic- The big bad will charge across the bridge

Better Tactic- Big bad snipes from his side of the bridge (not allowed)

Invalidated situation- Party has destroyed bridge, the big bad decides to snipe from his side (allowed as his instructions are no longer able to be carried out, ie no bridge!)

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I would consider incredibly disadvantageous actions, like Mike's example above, to be invalidated tactics.

Venture-Captain, Germany–Hannover aka Hayato Ken

Fights in desert could absolutely be in a heatwave, forcing PC´s to make fortitude saves.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Last year at Gen Con during one of the few scenarios I got to play due to my table not firing I experienced some GM creativity and admit I was pretty ticked about it.

Spoiler:
it was hell knights feast low tier. Instead of having us fight three Wraiths in the basement the GM decided to put the party against a Mohrg with the sickened condition and some hp damage and a single Wraith. His reasoning was because we would not be doing the optional encounter at Gen Con he should make this one more difficult to consume the proper amount of resources.

Luckily our group had two paladins and was particularly suited for the changes the GM made. What irritated me was that the experience we were getting at this GM's table was different than the experience I had been giving players at my table when I gm'd the scenario for people. The change he made was very significant in how the battle could have turned out and a group which did not have our particular make up could have been in a lot of trouble vs. the adjusted fight.

Silver Crusade

Michael Brock wrote:

A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.

Thank you. We are talking about an enjoyable gaming experience. Changing lighting, weather conditions, changing locations or tactics of the enemy forces is within the 5.0 guidelines as indicated above. Having an NPC have a key ring with multiple mundane keys is not beyond the scope of credibility or believability. There are usually chests with treasure in them which the enemies hold.

The object is not to kill the party as a GM, but to provide enough of a challenge so the scenario isn't a walk through in the park either. Reviewing over the characters beforehand will tell you immediately whether or not they can handle the changes or not, along with the first combat of the game. Running at 1-2 level scenario is far different than running a 3-5 level scenario. Experience of the players is another key element.

There are reasons why the word 'consider' was put into place. As GM, you can run the scenario to the letter as written or make minor adjustments to enhance the enjoyment of game play as indicated above. Let the controversy begin, if it must. At least that's more exciting than watching the power levelers wipe out the minions by second round.


Michael Brock wrote:
If a GM can't figure out if tactics have been invalidated, then do you really want to trust the same GM to change tactics to whatever they feel like?

Absolutely not. Even if I found a GM who shared my brain, I can't count on being able to play with that GM all the time. I'd much rather put my faith in PFS authors/editors/developers making sound judgments about the tactics.

I'll add that as GM, it's been my observation that many of the combats are set up to give the players an advantage. Many of the tactics are seemingly suboptimal or are specifically geared to present a specific type of challenge. If GMs were given carte blanch with tactics, these subtleties would be wiped out. If I did happen to play with the same GM, i'd most likely get the same approach to combat over and over rather than experiencing the multitude of NPC attitudes and tactics that the various scenario authors/developers bring to each scenarios.

PFS doesn't vet GMs. It would be illogical to put more discretion in their hands when you aren't improving the quality of the average GM through any process.


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Patrick F wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:

A lot of people are unaware that we gave GMs some tools in Guide 5.0. From page 32 of the Guide:

However, if the actions of the PCs before or during an encounter invalidate the provided tactics or starting locations, the GM should consider whether changing these would provide a more enjoyable play experience.

Additionally, the GM may consider utilizing terrain and environmental conditions when those effects have been written into the flavor of a scenario but the mechanics that are normally associated with them by the Core Rulebook have not been added to the encounters.

Thank you. We are talking about an enjoyable gaming experience. Changing lighting, weather conditions, changing locations or tactics of the enemy forces is within the 5.0 guidelines as indicated above. Having an NPC have a key ring with multiple mundane keys is not beyond the scope of credibility or believability. There are usually chests with treasure in them which the enemies hold.

The object is not to kill the party as a GM, but to provide enough of a challenge so the scenario isn't a walk through in the park either. Reviewing over the characters beforehand will tell you immediately whether or not they can handle the changes or not, along with the first combat of the game. Running at 1-2 level scenario is far different than running a 3-5 level scenario. Experience of the players is another key element.

There are reasons why the word 'consider' was put into place. As GM, you can run the scenario to the letter as written or make minor adjustments to enhance the enjoyment of game play as indicated above. Let the controversy begin, if it must. At least that's more exciting than watching the power levelers wipe out the minions by second round.

Changing lighting, weather, locations and tactics are explicitly not within those guidelines. Tactics and starting locations may be changed if PC actions invalidate them, not to add challenge.

Lighting and weather modifiers can be used if the flavor text includes them, but the encounter does not. They may not simply be changed to add challenge.

If you want to argue those guidelines should be changed, that's reasonable, but the current version does not allow what you claim. It spells out under what conditions you can change them and they're very restrictive.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jeff Merola wrote:
Saint Caleth wrote:


You can't ban them from the whole gameday, but you can absolutely ban a player from your table.
As far as I'm aware, you can't actually ban them from your table. You CAN refuse to run if they're there, which under most circumstances will lead to the same result, but isn't the quite the same.

You can ban players who have a history of being disruptive at your tables.

Silver Crusade

I suppose what would be fun and interesting to consider is the alignment of the GM in comparison to the scenario. Tongue in cheek humor.

The old abandoned warehouse with a mere 6 minions and a boss to challenge and several experienced power levelers.

Lawful Good - Make minor tweaks as suggested by 5.0 Guide rules to enhance to challenge experience of everyone. Then be shamed for doing so afterwards by fellow GMs who know the module inside and out!

Lawful Neutral - Run the scenario as printed, no matter what. The typo says Gohuls, so that's what we call them.

Lawful Evil - Earthquake hits the local region! Make reflex saves or take 2d6 points of cheesy damage. There is an old volcano nearby, it could 'technically happen'.

Neutral Good - GM rolls a critical on the beloved cleric and somehow does 3 points of mercy damage...

Neutral - GM makes sure that at least one minion escapes to keep the balance.

Neutral Evil - GM rolls a 2 towards the annoying player at the table and somehow turns into a natural 20.

Chaotic Good - Leaves the Pathfinder Organized play after a session or two and runs a home brewed campaign with multiple changing house rules. Start times will vary.

Chaotic Neutral - Brings a character sheet to the table and thinks someone else should GM tonight. Then whips out a Magic deck and goes to a different part of the gaming store.

Chaotic Evil - Finds new and creative ways to kill the entire party before the night is over. Tries to steal food and dice while you are in the restroom.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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For the most part in RPGs, "character advancement" in power is an illusion, because the fights never get any easier. If my character drinks from a magic river and gets new abilities -- or finds a powerful weapon -- he's more powerful, but he's also now fighting two minotaurs instead of two bugbears. However, in organized play, if I "play up" get more gold and therefore more equipment, or if I finagle a powerful build out of a few spells from one book, an archetype from another, and some feats from a third, I really can get easier fights. Patrick F, it sounds to me like you don't like that aspect of organized play.

Rather, I get the sense like you want to run a home campaign, where it's the GM's job to modify encounters to provide a fun experience for the players. As GMs we are not allowed to make the kinds of changes you're suggesting. If you insist on doing that, stop running Pathfinder Society games. There's lots of other kinds of fun to be had with the rules system that isn't organized play.

Quote:
The object is not to kill the party as a GM, but to provide enough of a challenge so the scenario isn't a walk through in the park either.

You have no control over that, Patrick. Once the dice are rolled, a "challenging" encounter can easily turn into a lethal one. Roll a couple of critical hits that shouldn't have happened, and then we're back around to the players checking the scenario, complaining to the event organizer, who needs to talk to a Venture Officer in order to bring those characters back.

What you can do is (1) play the smart NPCs as smart. Work out clever tactics ahead of time. (Kyle Baird taught me to take the time to actually run combats ahead of time as part of my prep work.) Know the effectiveness of the NPCs' spells. If it fits the NPC's personality, surrender to the party's paladin and then break the truce immediately.

Also, (2) enforce the rules. for example, players will try to draw a scroll or potion as part of a move action; don't allow it. Players won't keep track of arrows being lost. Keep track of that for them. There are plenty of ways to keep the game chalenging without changing up the encounters.


Mahtobedis wrote:
Last year at Gen Con during one of the few scenarios I got to play due to my table not firing I experienced some GM creativity and admit I was pretty ticked about it.

I hope you emailed mike.brock@paizo.com about this.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Agent, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

Patrick F wrote:

At least that's more exciting than watching the power levelers wipe out the minions by second round.

If that is what the party wants to do, then that is what they should be allowed to do. PFS mods are built with a certain challenge level in mind and while there will always be variance, and some of that variance is within the control of the GM, the players will be expecting a certain level and they will build and play their characters accordingly. I have seen way too many instances of even experienced DMs misjudging power levels and devastating parties when they tried to change challenge levels in an organized play environment. In fact, our local game store had to ban one of our PFS GMs because he did this sort of thing so regularly that his death count was easily 3 or 4 times higher than even the second most deadly GM we had.


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Michael Brock wrote:
I am hoping authors start writing more weather conditions into scenarios.

All you gotta do is ask.

*starts adding nearby tornados w/o including them mechanically in the scenario*

Lantern Lodge 5/5

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Kyle Baird wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
I am hoping authors start writing more weather conditions into scenarios.

All you gotta do is ask.

*starts adding nearby tornados w/o including them mechanically in the scenario*

No, it has to be a sharknado, so it also counts as a swarm.

Silver Crusade 5/5

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Chris Mortika wrote:


If it fits the NPC's personality, surrender to the party's paladin and then break the truce immediately....

PLEASE do NOT do this. Ever. All that accomplishes is to train the players to ALWAYS be murder hobos. The more they're betrayed, the more they'll decide the solution to all problems is to just kill stuff. The long term cost iswp way higher than the short term gain.

Also its not at all clear to me its legal in terms of "run as written"

Scarab Sages

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David Higaki wrote:
Kyle Baird wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
I am hoping authors start writing more weather conditions into scenarios.

All you gotta do is ask.

*starts adding nearby tornados w/o including them mechanically in the scenario*

No, it has to be a sharknado, so it also counts as a swarm.

And the sharks have to have "freaking 'laser beams'".


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The RPG Cold War
GM vs. Players
escalate escalate escalate

Shadow Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

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There is no war
GMs and Players should work together to build a better community
play play play

Sczarni 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Pullman aka Coraith

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There is no Game
There is only Zuul
#crossthestreams

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Are you the Gamemaster?

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