Trust issues with GMs

Pathfinder Society

Let me preface this with a little back story. I'm 20 and for the last probably 6 years have done nothing outside of PFS other than GM, everything from 3.5/Pathfinder to Vampire and Unknown Armies. I've been gaming for about 9 years. The main appeal of PFS for me was that I finally got to play a character, any character i want(within the legal rules)! Holy cow I was happy. But I do have a few issues that I think stop me from fully enjoying my Society experience, so I have come for advice.

Now in the 6 years i spent pretty much exclusively Gming I did try to sit in on many other GMs games, especially for 3.5 and Pathfinder. I always couldn't wait to leave by the end, and never went back to most of them. I had one GM do an amazing job but that was for a percentile based modern system and this GM(who is also an amazing novelist) now writes frequently for Paizo and other 3PP groups. My first ever DM, when I learned to tabletop when I was young, was a man I was later told(after we had lost contact) had written decent amounts for 3.5, I believe mostly to do with the Eberron setting. So I am fully aware that I was very GM-spoiled as a player on the few occasions I got to be one. As a result, I have very high standards for what a GM should do, and I understand that fault lies with me. This whole post isn't about bad GMs but instead about my inability to enjoy normal "average" GMing.

The main reason I post this on the Society page is that all of my Pathfinder as been PFS since I moved to the Carbondale area and with how its set up, if i wanna play, I don't get to pick GM or anything, I have to deal with it and move on. Now that being said, the people that GM for my local venue are pretty good, especially compared to some of the trainwrecks I have witnessed outside of PFS. The following are things I've seen in games I've visited, and these GMs still managed to have players(at least for a few sessions)

1.Having 15th level NPCs running around in a combat role with 3rd level PCs
2.A play group with 12 players...TWELVE!!!!
3.Many many times, a lightning bolt blasts you all die no save, or your teleported here, caster level a million, nothing u can do about it(this GM tp was the only way the party ever traveled and it was never the PCS idea).
4.Female players treated like any PC they made was a hooker/bar wench by default
5.The quote "I refuse to ever kill a PC, if the dice would force me to I just reroll, no one goes below zero in my games...dying isnt part of tabletop" Me-"so what are the hitpoints for?"
6. and many more

But that is just the worst, and none of it has been in PFS, sometimes I run into decent GMing and I just feel like something is missing. I have grown a set of expectations over time for what a GM should and shouldn't do over time(mostly from my own experience GMing) and I would love feed back on which ones are just asking to much.

1.Don't softball me, please...kill my PC fairly I'll smile and thank you...softball me and you are ruining my day

2.Have a pretty good understanding of the rules, you don't have to be a master...but if you're having to go to the combat section of the CRB every encounter...maybe you aren't ready to GM

3.Please don't hand wave intro or story(in PFS replace intro with the part where we get the mission and travel) I understand if you want to get it out of the way quickly, but I should NEVER draw my weapon for combat without understanding as a player why we are fighting

4.Reward creativity...if it makes sense that it would work. Maybe you assign a roll to it for a creative fix than have em roll, but there is never only one solution to a problem

5. Role Play the NPCs to some extent, they exist in the world just like PCs, they have lives and desires, fears and flaws etc etc, this isn't a video game where the shopkeep has 3 programmed phrases

6. Do some prep work with the maps, know what the combat maps look like, or better yet print em out..that means objects need to be drawn on or mentioned in your description, not every fight is in an empty field or bare room

7.Its a pet peeve of mine when someone plays a 7 Int fighter as a PC with perfect tactics, then a 18 Int 18 Wis villain NPC with bad ones, there is some belief in a lot of people minds it seems that monsters or NPCs shouldn't use high level tactics(combat maneuver, coup de grace, flanking, using the environment etc) even when the character has the stats to do it, I understand scenarios come with tactics but those tactics not working should count as "invalidated by the PCs"

8.Morality isn't as black and white as people would think. All lawful good characters aren't the same, that goes for CN and LE and CE as well. I highly suggest to new gms that they read the what is evil/playing evil chapter of the BOVD and the playing good chapter of the BOED(both from 3.5)

I'm sorry for the really long post, and am aware I'm probably insane for expecting all this from someone. So my main reason for posting is to get advice about how to change seeing GMs this way, thanks for taking the time to read all this rant.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Only experience and skill can improve someone. With that said, some writers can make award wining scripts. Some writers can only write bad fanfic.

Some painters can evoke strong emotions and lead the art world. Some painters can only make fridge art at best.

Have you witnessed some of these gaming faux-pas' inside of a PFS run scenario? From my personal experience, I think you will be happy with your GM as I am from a small town but still have an amazing selection of great GMs in our town (I'm one too, I'm probably the worst but I can't be that bad ...). I have never seen any of the bad stuff you are talking about and I've seen every single good thing that you talked about in a game (I have heard of a legit TPK too, and it was fair). Hopefully that gives you a bit of faith in your next GM!

Wixirox the PFS Gming as as a whole been much better than the homebrew Gming...a big reason being that if you do the massively stupid wacky things some homebrew GMs do, you won't be gming in PFS for long, which is a good thing. I guess my hold up is while there is major incentive to not GM poorly, there isnt as much built into the PFS rulebook to go from being average to better or great. I don't fully understand the star system but is seems mostly(repeat mostly not entirely) based on number of scenarios ran, not as much how well you ran them.

I would love to see maybe some GMing classes or videos or something offered at some of the venues that routinely host PFS, not because its needed but because it should be wanted...i would love to be a better GM, i would love to learn from the best, to be the best, and i hope everyone else gets to be the best one day to.

The thing is I look at it like this. GMing is plain and simple more difficult than playing a character, many times more IMHO. And since PFS is linked so closely to Paizo and Pathfinder, since for many its their first exposure to Pathfinder or even tabletop gaming in general...there is a vested interest in having the GM, the person who decides more than anyone else how much fun a session will be, be the best possible. There is a line that is good enough, but everyone should want to get better yes?

Shadow Lodge 2/5

AnthonyThompson wrote:
5.The quote "I refuse to ever kill a PC, if the dice would force me to I just reroll, no one goes below zero in my games...dying isnt part of tabletop" Me-"so what are the hitpoints for?"

I don't like killing characters, but I don't stray from it when it can be flourished and entertaining. (Think Sturm in the High Clerists Tower.) I've unfortunately Total Party Killed in a PFS run of First Steps Part I.

Color Spray at 1HD in a cramped alleyway is not nice.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Ottawa

Have you taken a look at the GM resources for PFS?

Take a look at GM 101 and GM 201.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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Not really sure what you're looking for here, or why you titled it trust issues... sounds like you have some issues with some specific GM(s), if so you might want to address it with them.
You will get all kinds of GMs in pfs, all doing it for different reasons. Some just love storytelling and and they're doing it to entertain others and have fun. Some don't really enjoy GMing very much, they see it as giving back to the community to take their turn as the GM so others can play. Some just want the GM credit to level up a character. Some want to try to kill off players. Some have been GMing since before you were born. Some just picked up the rulebook yesterday and thought it would be fun to try. There's no tests or criteria to meet in order to GM, so you get all types.

Pfs forces raw rules and doesn't let GMs change anything about the scenarios. This is both a great thing and a horrible thing. You don't have to work about being softballed or about having things amped up too hard, but the GM cant change it if the writer designed the encounters as too easy or too hard for their group.
You don't have to worry about giant groups, there's a hard cap of 7 players.
You don't have to worry about GM fiat, but writer Fiat is in my experience worse. With GM fiat at least you can talk to the GM and reason with them, have a chance to change their mind. When its written in to a pfs scenario, even the GM is stuck with it.
While the strict adherence to raw may avoid some problems, it also hampers creative solutions. I find many players avoid doing anything not expressly spelled out in the rules, which is one of the saddest parts of pfs play to me.

Dark Archive 4/5

I've played in a PFS scenario in which, due to a series of poor dice rolls on the parts of the players and good dice rolls on the part of the GM, the adventure was a TPK in the first encounter (which was supposed to be a warm-up). It happens. I didn't fault the GM, or the scenario. It's the way the game is played. You roll the dice and take your chances.

As a GM myself, I try to make the experience fun for the players. Sometimes, the scenario as written is overpowering. Other times, the players will think of something that the designer didn't and completely circumvent an encounter that should have been a difficult fight.

As a PFS GM, my job is to be sure that everyone at the table is treated fairly and enjoys their session. That's it. I play by the rules, I run the adventure as written, and the dice fall where they may, but I try to make it both fun and fair as much as possible within those limitations.

When running my weekly game for my group, things are a little different. We're playing the Skull & Shackles AP, but I gloss over parts that are boring, change encounters to suit the party better (I have eight players instead of four), and I rewrite parts of the adventure on the fly.

Again, my job as the GM is to insure a fun and fair session, but I have more leeway to change things that I feel need to be altered.

Could I improve? Sure. I occasionally forget little things like cover from other characters or I'll have to look up the modifiers for a condition, but I'm always learning and getting better every time I run a game.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 8

Mistwalker wrote:

Have you taken a look at the GM resources for PFS?

Take a look at GM 101 and GM 201.

Lots of great advice to be had here, written by some of the pros.

Dark Archive 5/5

The rule in this area is...If you dont approve (trust, enjoy, whatever) your GM's there is only one thing to do. Get behind the screen and show em how its done. Let them experience a 'good'GM and set the bar high. A good 'bedside manner' is needed to shape willing and rookie GM's. Give constructive critism at the 'end' of the scenario and always compliment the good stuff.
The suprise round, acrobatics (jump this hole), the climb skill and Combat Manuvers are common problem areas for rookie(and some veteran)GM's. Helping new GM's master these and other often used mechanics can really smooth the transistion from 'clunky rules exam' to 'smooth adventures'.


Walter Sheppard wrote:
Mistwalker wrote:

Have you taken a look at the GM resources for PFS?

Take a look at GM 101 and GM 201.

Lots of great advice to be had here, written by some of the pros.

And some shmucks!

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/55/5 **

Pathfinder Card Game, Maps, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Kyle,you don't have to talk bad about yourself like that. We will gladly do it for you. :)

Thanks a lot for the advice, Gnoams your post really help to reassure nothing to crazy is gonna happen, tho I agree, less creativity is sad, makes sense why that happens tho..time issues, RAW only and all that stuff, not the GMs fault. I think I may try some PFS GMing sometime soon, especially if I find a scenario or two I really like and would love to run. I'm checking out the GM resources now, lots of great stuff for sure

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