How to make my pfs experience better.


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Below is what is called a wall of text. So the tl:dr is right here.

How to get organization in pfs organized play. Suggestions welcome.

Wall. Of. Text.
My local pathfinder group behaves as though strategy and organization do not have any place in the game. This is an observation based on over a year of experience. There are exceptions to this rule, of course and I have met a few people who know when and how to integrate and role play but the general experience is that if a little planning and organization would help, then that is definitely what we won't do. I am not fabricating this based on my feelings either. On more than several occassions (10+ coints as that right?) I have tried to be proactive and offer suggestions, encourage the party to organize their efforts, even gone as far in two or three instances to stop the group and suggest we figure out the best way to approach the situation-especially when we had the tools and opportunity and the threat was real. No luck. I have literally been flat out ignored as though after I had finished speaking, it was as if I had never spoken at all.

To this end I am not sure how to make a character who doesn't have to ignore his teammates in order to function (because everybody just ignores everyone else until they need healing or someone to draw attacks off of them). I want to feel like I played the game with people instead of just spectating as everybody else fights for their personal series of moments to shine.

The group is not small. I play with different people all the time. I estimate we have around 30+ players and new ones coming periodically. But I am starting to really not enjoy the 'who cares if there is an easier way or if you want to do any hint of character development-charge!!' style of play that keeps happening. I am not invested in the scenario's because I am not able to really participate or engage without playing a single player game like everyone else. I dislike fighting for attention in real life and I don't want to do it when I role play. So being an attention w#0r3 in order to feel like I was involved in a game is not my thing.

When I say I want to participate-I mean that quite literally.

I have a seeker oracle who is a trapfinder and blaster. The last scenario he played in he got to check for traps for half the adventure (but the dc's were high so he failed) before everyone opted to trigger traps by walking into them and taking damage. At the end of the scenario the character had 9 unused spells. The thing is that is his max. He never got to cast and it wasn't like there weren't any monsters. People just didn't care that when we had 5 enemies grouped up and plenty of space to fall back that I could cast a very powerful burning hands. They used the same mindset when we encountered swarms. People even chose to attack them normally rather than have me nuke them. And while a given situation can have its merits (someone with a pregen and alchemist fire saves me a spell slot), they seldom actually do.

The gm asked me a few times what I was doing in combat, and I told him 'passing my turn again'. And my reason was because everybody else 'had it covered'. Not covered they way they would have liked (unless they liked spending resources and taking damage) and not the way I would have liked- yay! Everybody wins....

Sure, this stuff is just free exp at the risk of the health and resources of others. And I don't mind some free exp. But this has been grating on me for a while now and it is becoming an issue since the group of people is quite large. I may like exp but I show up (most of the time) to role play....and all that entails.

At this point, I am trying to make characters with group abilities and benefits for capitalizing on their actions (usually a setup of some sort like a debuff). But I am not sure that even that will be quite enough considering how 'single player' the um...format...has been. I don't want to sit back and play bards or clerics where I can participate and not necessarily have to compete for the action to participate.

I have less than a single handful (fewer than 5) of sessions in pfs that I have played that were memorable. And in most, maybe all of those cases, there was character development and/or teamwork. That is to say that players (not just me) who were useful or best in a situation were actually used to tackle it. Before my monk got Errata'd into 9 wasted levels, parties would develop strategies around him, players asked me to play at their tables with him, he in turn learned their tactics, needs, and abilities and would come prepared to play to their strengths like they played to his.

Right now I am in a home game online. The very same blaster is getting utterly different treatment than in the pfs game. The tanks beg me to blast....to do what I am built for. When I try to let them shine and use my weaker stuff they tell me to stop playing around, get down here and vaporize. Conversely, I totally expect them to stand in front of anything big and nasty and keep me safe. And when we have diplomatic relations, I Focus more on role playing and let the characters who actually took social skills shine like they were meant to. So far, everyone is happy. We all work like we want to succeed-as a group. Yes, some of that involves familiarity with the same people, some of it is knowing each characters strengths and weaknesses, some of it is purely party composition ic and ooc. So far, the ooc party composition has helped in pfs- a lot. But everything else has failed utterly. Telling people that you or another party member is amazing at task Y and the group ignores you and everyone goes with X...even if X was unnecessary, really set us back and removed the option to perform Y. *sigh*.

So in an environment where I generally cannot vouch for my own abilities, cannot vouche for those of others and cannot find any semblance of organization besides 'you all have the tag Pathfinder on your shirts and you have to finish this as a group', what is a guy to do? I really want to play with a team, I thoroughly enjoy being the party backbone or being the parties silver bullet or leader or whatever. I can play any number of ways, be it quietly in the background helping other people excell or being in the forefront and taking orders. What I am trying to say is that I am flexible and I want to keep trying. I don't think the problem can be fixed entirely with character class and build and definitely not my personality (I get ignored when I try deviating from absolute chaos or helping another player get some well deserved attention, remember?). I cannot physically go to distant locales to play so am stuck with just this one.

Options. Thoughts. Suggestions. I'm open to them all.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

You are playing with a herd of cats.

That is not going to change.

Adjust your characters accordingly. If you must play an AOE blaster, get selective spell or something. (the feat is pretty late for pfs, but the Rods are easy enough


I find that in most areas have a few DMs usually DM all the time. Either the type that play well with those DM style or the group adapts to that type of style.

As a DM, I use play the combats more tactically, and if the group does not play well together. They end up taking bigger hits.

In an area I play at occassionally the people are very isolated and do not go play at other areas. The DM usually softballs everything and lets them get away with whatever for their builds. They tend to do the same exact thing. Since their is no threat of death everyone runs ahead and races eachother to kill the next thing in the most rediculous way.

My solution. DM, and learn how to play the encounter tactically. They are written for a team to work together fighting. If they are not doing so you will see how easy it is to punish them for doing such things. Then find/teach DMs that will do the same.

I DMed a guy who rush past all his teammate through difficult terain with dragon style. The bad guy held person him and I had a peasant walk up to with a scythe with the stated attempted he would coup de graz him next round(at minimum damage he would have needed a 20 to save). His teammates made sure to kill that peasant.

Now the team saved him, but you can easily see the danger he put himself at for playing solo.


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I will state this much (which is probably obvious), I imagine that one of the biggest reasons you find online play so different is time constraints.

I know when I'm playing at a venue and there tends to be a time limit that even though a lot of us would like to stop and smell the roses (or make cool battle plans) that we also don't want to finish our slot without finishing the scenario.

This can lead to people not taking the time to really get to know other characters and formulate plans etc. Is it ideal? No, but unfortunately its a reality. Obviously online play does not have these time constraints, there is no venue and you can type out a nice battleplan while other people are still doing things, ie there is no worry of "talking over people".

Now I don't suggest you give up, maybe just try and lower your expectations of planning;

For example if you try and coordinate a surgical strike that would make the special forces proud then other players will probably get annoyed at the time slipping away and be less and less likely in future to listen to ANY plans. "Right Joe, you take up this position then wait for me to hoot like an owl three times, John you are going to stand here with a readied action, while Susan stands on the ledge over here, right thats the first 6 seconds, now then we....."

On the other hand if you just try and get the team to settle on vague tactics, then they will be more likely to at least try it, and if it works out well they well listen more and more; Ok, guys I don't know what we are going to find, but if we see them bunching up lets try get the casters to blast off first while the fighters delay and then step up to defend them after the initial volley, then just take it from there"

Sovereign Court

You can change your pathfinder locale, but the giant of limited tactics walks faster than you do. In detroit we are literally blessed by a number of people willing and able to gm. If you want more gms start kindly and deliberately ask if people are interested. "Wow you really know --- very well. Have you thought about gming?"

Tactical accumen in your group is the same. I just ran a table last night where at the beginning three new players were learning things the hard way. I complemented them on having and using ranged weapons. They learned quickly about firing when threatened. They learned how to check for traps (again the hard way) Yet at the end, they were an entirely different group then starting.

I didn't teach. I asked &suggested. If you want to get someone down the road ask them where they want to go and help them get there.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Dark Immortal wrote:
Before my monk got Errata'd into 9 wasted levels, parties would develop strategies around him, players asked me to play at their tables with him, he in turn learned their tactics, needs, and abilities and would come prepared to play to their strengths like they played to his.

Do tell.

Dark Immortal wrote:
(Other stuff...)

Groups with sub-optimal tactics can be a rough go. I'm lucky enough that probably 75% of our FLGS players have good tactics AND good-to-great builds. The other 25% are usually one or the other.

My best suggestion is to talk tactics BEFORE the scenario and clarify general roles and actions. If action is imminent and you have pre-battle buff time, you might recap your abilities.

"Hey, I'm a pounce barbarian, could you guys leave me charge lanes?"

"I can cast Divine Fervor 4/day--if you're near me in initiative, delay if you want the full effect."

"I drop Dazing Fireballs with DC Forgeddaboutit. If you guys avoid getting all mixed up with the enemies, I can make it very easy for us!"

As a GM, I gently try to guide PCs if their tactics are causing trouble.

"OK, looks like everyone is scattered around the map fighting one-on-one. You might want to start focusing your attacks..."

"OK, so you spent 1 round to withdraw and 2 rounds to use a wand of CLW...looks like your friends really need your help now."

"All out of spells? Well, you can still shoot your crossbow/bow...yeah, you'll take penalties for melee/cover/whatever, but it's better than doing nothing."


Sammy T wrote:


My best suggestion is to talk tactics BEFORE the scenario and clarify general roles and actions. If action is imminent and you have pre-battle buff time, you might recap your abilities.

"Hey, I'm a pounce barbarian, could you guys leave me charge lanes?"

"I can cast Divine Fervor 4/day--if you're near me in initiative, delay if you want the full effect."

"I drop Dazing Fireballs with DC Forgeddaboutit. If you guys avoid getting all mixed up with the enemies, I can make it very easy for us!"

Good advice IF:

- You have time before
- You know who (player wise) you are playing with
- You know who (Characyer wise) you are playing with

Sammy T wrote:


As a GM, I gently try to guide PCs if their tactics are causing trouble.

"OK, looks like everyone is scattered around the map fighting one-on-one. You might want to start focusing your attacks..."

"OK, so you spent 1 round to withdraw and 2 rounds to use a wand of CLW...looks like your friends really need your help now."

"All out of spells? Well, you can still shoot your crossbow/bow...yeah, you'll take penalties for melee/cover/whatever, but it's better than doing nothing."

This I STRONGLY disagree with, if the player is new or something this is absolutely fine, but if the player is experienced at all then it should be up to them or their teammates to recognize problems like this. Otherwise a near (or even actual) TPK may be just what they need. I dont mean to sound harsh, I dont in any way TRY for TPKs but just I dont like GMs running PCs...

Shadow Lodge 4/5

CathalFM wrote:


Good advice IF:
- You have time before
- You know who (player wise) you are playing with
- You know who (Characyer wise) you are playing with

You don't need time to quickly state what you do. You don't need to give an in-depth screed on your character tactics, just a sentence and that can be all the difference.

CathalFM wrote:


This I STRONGLY disagree with, if the player is new or something this is absolutely fine, but if the player is experienced at all then it should be up to them or their teammates to recognize problems like this. Otherwise a near (or even actual) TPK may be just what they need. I dont mean to sound harsh, I dont in any way TRY for TPKs but just I dont like GMs running PCs...

Running PCs and gently suggesting with a throwaway line are two different things. Sometimes folks are so in their own headspace they don't see the big picture. You give them a brief peek at it and let them make their own decisions. Relating to the lines I used and how they were used:

"OK, looks like everyone is scattered around the map fighting one-on-one. You might want to start focusing your attacks..."

I've said this at lowbie tables, when folks are dragging out fights/wasting resources/riding the struggle train simply because they're not working together and don't realize it. Most tables take the hint and pull it together.

"OK, so you spent 1 round to withdraw and 2 rounds to use a wand of CLW...looks like your friends really need your help now."

Said before in situations where someone is so concerned about their own death that their absence may cause a TPK. I literally said that sentence when a 4-person party was fighting the final encounter of Murder on the Silken Caravan when 1 character did those actions (and was considering another self-action) while the other characters were potentially 1 round from a TPK.

"All out of spells? Well, you can still shoot your crossbow/bow...yeah, you'll take penalties for melee/cover/whatever, but it's better than doing nothing."

Pretty much only said at lowbie tables because newbies tend to think "No spells? Guess I'm done for this fight."

Not written above, but I've said it many times: "You can always retreat."

When the poop is splattering the fan, it never hurts to remind players they can always fall back (if possible). No one's ever actually done it, but simply saying it may help reframe the stakes of the battle for the players who think every throwaway encounter is life-or-death.

- - -

I never run a player's character (and I'm very harsh as a GM when a player tries to tell another player what to do) but giving newer players guidance or experienced players perspective to maintain a positive experience is part of my duties as a GM.

And please note, I'm unfortunately one of the deadlier GMs at my FLGS ;)

Silver Crusade

Yeah, this sounds like it's different depending on where you play. I play at the same store as Sammy, though I'm just returning after not playing there for more than half a year. Stuff like "If you delay, I can move in to give you a flank" is just smart tactically, and people make suggestions like that to each other all the time. And as a GM, I'll make suggestions like the stuff Sammy's talking about, too.

5/5

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It reminds me of an experience I had playing Bonekeep pt 2 at a local con. I was playing a ninja. For some reason the party paladin, who was a pregen kept jumping into the flanking spot whenever he could. There were quite a few occasions where I would lose initiative to him and not get flanking for my sneak attack. I ended up doind my 1d6+2 damage instead of the 5d6 I should have been doing. Even after explaining he wasn't hearing it. He was an experience player but I guess he REALLY wanted that flanking bonus.

The Exchange 5/5

Soluzar wrote:
It reminds me of an experience I had playing Bonekeep pt 2 at a local con. I was playing a ninja. For some reason the party paladin, who was a pregen kept jumping into the flanking spot whenever he could. There were quite a few occasions where I would lose initiative to him and not get flanking for my sneak attack. I ended up doind my 1d6+2 damage instead of the 5d6 I should have been doing. Even after explaining he wasn't hearing it. He was an experience player but I guess he REALLY wanted that flanking bonus.

Suggestion (might be ignored still though):

when the Paladin jumps into the flanking position and takes his swing... move to a position where you'll be flanking if the guy his is flanking with takes a 5 foot step and say something like..."I move to here, so when Bob the fighter takes a 5 foot step and gives me a flank I can get my sneak dice. I ready a swing for when I have that flank..." then wink at the fighter.

it would look something like this:

XXX
FTP
XXR

where F is the fighter, T is the target, P is the paladin and R is your ninja... then the Fighter 5 foot steps...

FXX
XTP
XXR

and your attack goes off.

It wont help if the Fighter doesn't step... but heck, in that case you just roll your eyes and look for a different group of players to play with the next game.

Afterword, be sure to thank the fighter where the rest of the party, esp. the paladin hears it, saying something like "Hay guy! thanks for the help! Great team we make huh?"

3/5

Learning a set of tactics for pathfinder (or tabletop RPGS in general) takes time and learning. My suggestion to you would be: make or play characters who use the party as the distraction.

I once played in a home game where I let the party run around like chickens with their heads cut off (and smashing and destroying things like they wanted to) while I got in and did the things necessary to advance the plot, whether it was free the prisoner, disrupt the ritual, or what have you. If you're in a group whose battle plan is synchronized panicking (like that group), you might consider doing something like that. Just make sure that you can handle yourself without your group, and you'll be okay most of the time.

(I guess another example would be batman in the justice league: he sends the league off to bang heads together, while he creates the retrovirus that deals the aliens a permanent blow).

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Vrog wrote:
(I guess another example would be batman in the justice league: he sends the league off to bang heads together, while he creates the retrovirus that deals the aliens a permanent blow).

The problem there is that the scenario has to support this. Thats not always a given but it does happen occasionally.

Shadow Lodge

nosig wrote:
*flanking stuff*

The beauty is that if you get the turns right, the three players can ALL have flanking on their turns, by circling the enemy with 5' steps...

Assuming the enemy doesn't go anywhere, that is...

FXX
XTP
XXR

FXX
XTP
XRX

FXX
XTX
XRP

XFX
XTX
XRP

XFX
XTX
RXP

etc, etc...

Dark Archive

@Righty, I cannot change my locale. Otherwise I would. :(

@Cathal it is not time that is the issue. We play online using Google hangouts. I am the only one using the online aspect. Everybody else is in the same room in real life listening to my disembodied voice. No typing. We have a 4 hour window because they live on the east coast and have work in the morning. We always finish either on time or early. In the home game, we have not discussed tactics or strategy. We just do them. Everybody works together because they want to survive and they are interested in having a good rp experience.

I naturally understood years ago(though I tested once or twice) that surgical strikes and awesome detail do not work for the average person in almost any medium. People prefer things simpler (and this idea has proven successful in Hollywood and other formats). So no, I do not get very detailed. I try to give one or two simple and (what I think) obvious suggestions that people seem to just not hear. Repeatedly. I play with experienced people. But I think the issue is that they simply don't want teamwork, organization or synergy. On the few occasions where other players have made strategic suggestions (and we followed them), there has always been at least one party member who intentionally does the exact thing to undermine the idea...like opening a door to a room filled with monsters after everybody has moved deeper into open and unexplored dungeon space (keeping the door behind them closed so as not to alert the monsters within). So there are plenty of players with suicidal tendencies as well who disrupt strategy.

@Sammy, not sure if I tried that before. I will definitely make the effort in the future, though.


Cool, sorry, didn't mean to make assumptions. But my points hold true in a more general sense.

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