Too many rules


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5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

nosig wrote:
yeah, it's like that guy who claims you can take 10 on ... crud.

"I'm not in immediate danger while leaping over a 1,000 foot chasm with piranha swarms at the bottom" is how the rai works, but it doesn't fit the raw without sounding like a chelaxian Johnnie Cochran.

Dark Archive

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dwayne germaine wrote:

I can definitely empathize with what the OP is feeling. I'm encountering tables with over half the characters coming from the ACG, using combinations of rules that seem overly powerful to me. We don't really have time for me to track down all the rules they are using to find out if they are misinterperating something, It would take way too much time. Stores close, people have jobs in the morning to go to, etc...

So the party walks through the scenario, I feel like I didn't do a good job as a GM because there was no challenge, some players feel like their time was wasted because they were mostly just spectators.

I'm actually worried that a lot of the drop off of people willing to GM in our area is because of this. I don't know that it is, but from conversations I have had with other GMs I strongly suspect that it is a factor. I know I'm considering not GMing PFS anymore, and its directly related to the ACG, I haven't even seen anything from Occult Adventures yet.

As one of the Drop out GM's THIS right here is a big part of it but not all.

Mostly it's a confidence thing, a good GM needs to feel confident in that they are making the right call when running a game and this massive rules glut is making that a lot harder. When you sit down at a table planning on providing half a dozen people a good time and realize you have no idea how the majority of the classes, powers, rules, etc. for your players work is really shaking to that sense of confidence.

Trusting your players is not the issue, they can be 100% honest and do everything above board but you not knowing or understanding how any of this works really does make it a LOT harder to provide an enjoyable challenging experience. Unless you can gauge what is and isn't a challenge or whether a party can or cannot overcome a challenge based on their abilities you are either going to have a cakewalk session or a frustrating slog.
No one wants either option so a good GM studies and learns the new rules and then the next book comes out with even more crazy new rules that conflict with other older rules and you just want to scream.

But really the worst thing is nearly ALL of the new material is all about giving players more and better options while really giving the GM next to nothing to challenge those options with. How many coordinators have had to just stop scheduling season 0-1 (and sometimes season 2) stuff simply because the players will just waltz over it in 45 minutes and ask is that it?

Finally, and this is the big one, some GM's just really don't like the new options. They find them overly complicated, powerful or just distasteful and the only option they have is to suck it up and watch it drain their fun out of the hobby or walk away and only do home games and ban huge swaths of material.
I enjoyed PFS for a long time but had to walk away, it just stopped being fun any more.

1/5

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Generally, additional rules options don't add much for me personally -- other than unnecessary complexity. But I've (mostly) made peace with the fact that I'm in the minority in this regard. :)

Scarab Sages

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bugleyman wrote:
Generally, additional rules options don't add much for me personally -- other than unnecessary complexity. But I've (mostly) made peace with the fact that I'm in the minority in this regard. :)

You may be in the minority, but you're not alone!

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
a good GM needs to feel confident in that they are making the right call

Why?

What gets hurt if you instead trust the players to make the right call for you, in the areas in which you're uninformed?

Speaking of trusting players to make the right call...

Quote:
Trusting your players is not the issue, they can be 100% honest and do everything above board but you not knowing or understanding how any of this works...

"I believe you're not cheating" is only half of what "trust" means, and frankly, it's the easy half. I think most GMs act on the assumption that no one is cheating until they encounter evidence to suggest otherwise.

Then there's the other half of trust: "I believe enough in your competence that I'll let you handle it." This is the bigger part of trust, and the one that I think way too few GMs are willing to engage in.

You say that trusting your players is not the issue. But if you're not willing to let THEM tell YOU how something works, if you're not comfortable with character options unless you know them well enough yourself that you'll be able to spot any errors, then you do not trust your players.

Trust does not just mean "I don't suspect malice". It means "I think you can handle this." If you don't think they can handle it, then by definition you do not trust them. Whether it's a GM and his players, a parent and their child that's just learned to drive, or any other situation of risk or vulnerability you can think of; if you're not willing to put them in control of the thing in question (in this case, their own PCs' mechanics), then no, you DON'T trust them.

Discomfort with not knowing your players' mechanics better than they do is ABSOLUTELY a trust issue.

Quote:

Unless you can gauge what is and isn't a challenge or whether a party can or cannot overcome a challenge based on their abilities you are either going to have a cakewalk session or a frustrating slog.

No one wants either option so a good GM studies and learns the new rules and then the next book comes out with even more crazy new rules that conflict with other older rules and you just want to scream.

Well, there's part of your problem: you mistakenly think that part of the GM's role is to produce a specific type of experience with a specific challenge level.

If so, you're wrong.

Your role is to present the setting, then step back and see what happens when the PCs are added to the equation. Maybe they lack crucial thing X and struggle, or maybe they have perfect solution Y and succeed with ease, but either way they're getting the chance to help tell the story. If you try to enforce a certain difficulty level instead of letting it be a product of setting plus characters, you've stolen something precious from the players.

I can't speak for everyone, but I loathe tables where I realize the difficulty is always going to be approximately X no matter what abilities I do or don't have. At that point, I'm just watching a bad movie disguised as a roleplaying game.

Quote:
But really the worst thing is nearly ALL of the new material is all about giving players more and better options while really giving the GM next to nothing to challenge those options with.

This is one of the most disturbing GM comments I've read in a long time. I've sometimes suspected that this or that GM had nasty "GM vs Players" attitude, but to have someone literally just come right out and complain that they're losing the arms race... Wow.

Quote:
How many coordinators have had to just stop scheduling season 0-1 (and sometimes season 2) stuff simply because the players will just waltz over it in 45 minutes and ask is that it?

I just had a table of newbies finish a Season 1 in about 2 hours, and they had FUN. For three people it was their first PFS experience, and I daresay they're coming back.

Quote:
Finally, and this is the big one, some GM's just really don't like the new options. They find them overly complicated, powerful or just distasteful and the only option they have is to suck it up and watch it drain their fun out of the hobby or walk away and only do home games and ban huge swaths of material.

Taste is taste, so I'll give you this one. :)


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Jiggy wrote:
rknop wrote:
My experience, though, is that players not really knowing the rules is distressingly common. It doesn't happen every game by any means, but in a non-insignificant number of the games I've played in, players have come in and tried to do things that they shouldn't be able to do. This is exactly what pauljathome mentions-- they don't always get it right, and when things are ambiguous, they haven't necessarily tracked down to find out the forum, FAQ, or errata rulings (if there are any).

Sure, sometimes a player thinks they can do something they can't. Just like sometimes a GM thinks a player can't do something they really can (ex: "Spell Combat + Spellstrike = two attacks" is still attacked by some GMs as "obviously unintended cheese"). When the GM makes their version of this error, players are supposed to just accept it and move on unless it's like PC-death-serious. Would it be the end of the world if GMs took the same approach to the player version of this error?

What bad things would happen if, on matters not super-serious, the GM just accepted the player's assertion and moved on, even if they suspected it was incorrect?

Shouldn't the "I think you're wrong, but it's not a huge deal so I'll just hold my peace and get back to having fun" thing go both ways?

As someone who has GM'd and been GM'd by rknop, I can empathize with him, though I have my own slant on the problems.

But I wanted to address and respond to Jiggy. On a practical level, it's easy to say "big whup" and let stuff slide. But when I've been in games where the GM does this, it absolutely kills the game for me. Why? Because the GM's first and most important job is to make sure the game is fair. I don't need the GM to make the game fun. The developers, the scenario authors, PFS staff, the other players, and myself....we make the game fun. I need the GM to know the rules and enforce the rules. Nobody can do that but the GM. If the game is fair, it's designed well enough that the fun will take care of itself.

As a player, it undermines my enjoyment of the game when players are allowed to do things they have no business doing. Why? Because then I'm not playings PFS, I'm playing some homebrew game where the rules are being made up as we go along. What's worse, when the GM does not enforce the rules, it rewards the players who know less about them.

While PFS is not a zero-sum game, a lack of rules enforcement has a negative effect on the table because, ime, what invariably ends up happening is you get class infringement/character marginalization. When characters are allowed to do things they should not be doing, this marginalizes those who've spent resources to do those things.

A perfect example of this is druids with dumped CHR and animal companions. GMs routinely don't know the rules regarding these things and druids run amok with them. Are you listening David Bowles

Jiggy, your response is that these are CRB issues, and they are. But the proliferation of rules and splat books means that the average GM is going to less familiar with any material, regardless of what book it's in. The sheer volume of material increase the signal to noise ratio for GMs when it comes to knowing the core rules. Most people start out playing. New books with new classes and options are going to contribute to an influx of new players, and that means new players will spend more time reading these books than the core books. I'd be curious out of the last 100 people who GM'd for the first time ever, how many of them are familiar with the Take 10 rules? or the Grapple rules? Or any the animal companion rules.

That having been said, my slant is a little different than rk's. While I don't feel overwhelmed by the new material (undoubtedly because I GM infrequently and nearly all of my games are via PbP), what I am constantly frustrated by is the lack of FAQ support for new and old problems. I still don't know if an Oracle can use Misfortune on herself. Does typed damage from magic spells still overcome DR/Magic? (I know it doesn't overcome DR/Typed).

If Paizo would dedicated some staff to answering FAQs and building comprehensive FAQ database, it would go a long way in alleviating my frustration with the proliferation of new rules and interactions.

TL:DR;

The GM not knowing the rules or not willing to make sure they are being enforced is a buzz kill for me. Though I will acknowledge I am coming from the PbP arena where a GM has time to look things up.

What other company that has this many customers has such lacking customer support regarding its product?

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I did give the qualifier of "if it's not serious", did I not? :)

And I was speaking generally; there are definitely some non-core problem children (like the summoner, which few people seem to get right on the first try) even though most real issues are Core.

So what I'm trying to say is this: if we GMs adopt the default mindset of "I'm going to learn and enforce the CRB, and then if a player says they have an ability to do X, then unless I have a real reason to do otherwise I'll trust them", and we work from that starting point to start adding corner cases like knowing how summoners work or realizing that X can't do Y; then I think the game will end up in a better place than if we start with a default mindset of "I need to be the one making the call on everything, so even when I've spent less time digesting rule X than the guy who built his character around it, I'm going to assume I know better than him anyway" and then only allow a surprising ability after someone else has gone to the trouble to prove it to me.

I'm saying that "default to trust, then account for errors as they come up" is better than the too-prevalent paradigm of "default to an assumption of error, then account for correctness when it's painstakingly proven to me".

Mindsets, starting points, and approaches; not so much on the absolutes. :)

Shadow Lodge

N N 959 wrote:
I need the GM to know the rules and enforce the rules. Nobody can do that but the GM.

I think this is a little unfair - every player at the table can do their bit to help make that happen.

If player A is at my table and suspects something is amiss with player B and I seem to be letting it slide, I'd appreciate player B checked it out and/or brought it up so we can resolve it.

I don't want them to stay silent and have a poor experience without knowing one or another if something's being ruled incorrectly. Look it up and I'll happily enforce it the way it's meant to be played, or at least make a call on it if it's unclear.

The GM already has a lot to think about; the more you can take off their shoulders, the better, and the extra rules for unusual classes are an excellent place to start.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

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We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.


Jiggy wrote:

I did give the qualifier of "if it's not serious", did I not? :)

And I was speaking generally; there are definitely some non-core problem children (like the summoner, which few people seem to get right on the first try) even though most real issues are Core.

So what I'm trying to say is this: if we GMs adopt the default mindset of "I'm going to learn and enforce the CRB, and then if a player says they have an ability to do X, then unless I have a real reason to do otherwise I'll trust them", and we work from that starting point to start adding corner cases like knowing how summoners work or realizing that X can't do Y; then I think the game will end up in a better place than if we start with a default mindset of "I need to be the one making the call on everything, so even when I've spent less time digesting rule X than the guy who built his character around it, I'm going to assume I know better than him anyway" and then only allow a surprising ability after someone else has gone to the trouble to prove it to me.

I'm saying that "default to trust, then account for errors as they come up" is better than the too-prevalent paradigm of "default to an assumption of error, then account for correctness when it's painstakingly proven to me".

Mindsets, starting points, and approaches; not so much on the absolutes. :)

1. The importance of any of this is subjective. It's a game, so when we talk about "serious" it really depends on what your context is. At the end of the day, none of this is really "serious" for me...but you'd think so given how much time I spend discussing it :(

2. My whole post is more about the paradigm of how we approach the rules rather than trying to lay blame for lack of enforcement.

3. I think you're kind of talking past the underlying issue that concerns me. It's not about how one handles lack of rules knowledge at the table, it's about how we approach rules knowledge before we sit down at the table. The rules are the foundation of what Organized Play is. Without adherence the rules, you undermine the promise of OP.

My point may be tangential to rk's or maybe it's even orthogonal. My goal is to say, no, it's not okay for the GM to have the attitude that she should let player error slide because players let GM error slide.

To be clear, my intent is not to criticize how you want to handle it at the table, I'm addressing why the situation is not symmetrical on either side of the proverbial GM screen.


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Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
dwayne germaine wrote:

I can definitely empathize with what the OP is feeling. I'm encountering tables with over half the characters coming from the ACG, using combinations of rules that seem overly powerful to me. We don't really have time for me to track down all the rules they are using to find out if they are misinterperating something, It would take way too much time. Stores close, people have jobs in the morning to go to, etc...

So the party walks through the scenario, I feel like I didn't do a good job as a GM because there was no challenge, some players feel like their time was wasted because they were mostly just spectators.

I'm actually worried that a lot of the drop off of people willing to GM in our area is because of this. I don't know that it is, but from conversations I have had with other GMs I strongly suspect that it is a factor. I know I'm considering not GMing PFS anymore, and its directly related to the ACG, I haven't even seen anything from Occult Adventures yet.

As one of the Drop out GM's THIS right here is a big part of it but not all.

Mostly it's a confidence thing, a good GM needs to feel confident in that they are making the right call when running a game and this massive rules glut is making that a lot harder. When you sit down at a table planning on providing half a dozen people a good time and realize you have no idea how the majority of the classes, powers, rules, etc. for your players work is really shaking to that sense of confidence.

Trusting your players is not the issue, they can be 100% honest and do everything above board but you not knowing or understanding how any of this works really does make it a LOT harder to provide an enjoyable challenging experience. Unless you can gauge what is and isn't a challenge or whether a party can or cannot overcome a challenge based on their abilities you are either going to have a cakewalk session or a frustrating slog.
No one wants either option so a good GM studies and learns the new rules...

It's nice to know I am not alone on this!

I only started PF a year ago after a 15-year absence from RPing at all. Prior to that, I was a AD&D GM (I started D&D back in 1979). I had no idea what I was getting into with PF, but liked the options and all that I saw in the CRB. But the group I was introduced to wanted a lot of non-Core stuff, some of it 3rd party, and I was pressured to give in "or else I don't think they're going to play...". Now, the group has been coming to my games, and really enjoy the story, but I have grown more and more uncomfortable with just how far off the reservation we have come as they have now attained 9th level. Over this past year, Paizo has added more and more content, much of it OP compared to the Core system, and yet stuff I also like, but all of it together makes me want to just STOP and start from scratch, learning the game much more slowly, both as a GM and as a Player. But when I told my group that I wanted to break and perhaps do an AP or Module so I can get a handle on the rules better, I was pressured with the same "Oh, then I don't think I want to play..." thing.

I WANT to feel like I know what I am doing, but this system has really started to get away from me. I WANT to tell a good story, and have fun, and have my Players have fun, and that - for me - requires that I have a better handle on this system. Otherwise, I might as well dump the rules and just wing/house rule everything!


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Avatar-1 wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
I need the GM to know the rules and enforce the rules. Nobody can do that but the GM.

I think this is a little unfair - every player at the table can do their bit to help make that happen.

.

Not really. You can't put the burden of rules enforcement on the players. The GM can certainly ask the other players what they believe the rules to be, but you do not want players policing other players as a general rule.

Sure, maybe someone like Jiggy might be a good player/coach, but this is not something PFS should advocate as a rule. It's the GM's job to enforce the rules, nobody else should have that burden. That having been said, I see nothing wrong with a GM asking a player if they will assist in calling out specific oversights, e.g.

"Would you mind making sure nobody takes more than a move and a standard action each round during this combat?"

And let me clarify, that I don't expect the GM to know all the rules. But I expect them to make an effort to make sure they are enforced and solicit players for input to make sure things are being run correctly.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

N N 959 wrote:
A perfect example of this is druids with dumped CHR and animal companions. GMs routinely don't know the rules regarding these things and druids run amok with them.

Once you have a +9 handle animal skill and the right tricks its generally under control.

Even Leafy McDwarfDwarf gets +9 fairly early

1 rank +3 skill bonus +4 link -3 charisma bonus +2 training harness = +7. You only need to get a 3 to do a trick it knows.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
A perfect example of this is druids with dumped CHR and animal companions. GMs routinely don't know the rules regarding these things and druids run amok with them.

Once you have a +9 handle animal skill and the right tricks its generally under control.

Even Leafy McDwarfDwarf gets +9 fairly early

1 rank +3 skill bonus +4 link -3 charisma bonus +2 training harness = +7. You only need to get a 3 to do a trick it knows.

There is a small army of players who think that because they can speak to their 2 INT animal it will do any thing they ask it to. Players also GM.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
. You only need to get a 3 to do a trick it knows.

You'd be surprised at how many times a Gunslinger I ran with had a misfire. During Wardstone Patrol, he had to abandon his weapon completely after the first encounter. But guess what never happens if the player doesn't roll and the GM doesn't mention it?

Dark Archive

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Jiggy wrote:
Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
a good GM needs to feel confident in that they are making the right call
Why?

Because feeling confident in yourself and what you are doing matters. Nothing is more immersion-breaking in a game as a GM who doesn't feel comfortable in what they are doing. A GM who is unsure of what's going on has serious problems keeping the story flowing and track of everything that's happening in the game.

It's like the new guy at the office who has no idea of what processes or tools the team has or is using and is lost in every meeting. That is intensely uncomfortable and really does not inspire respect or confidence from the rest of those at the table.

Quote:


What gets hurt if you instead trust the players to make the right call for you, in the areas in which you're uninformed?

Speaking of trusting players to make the right call...

Quote:
Trusting your players is not the issue, they can be 100% honest and do everything above board but you not knowing or understanding how any of this works...

"I believe you're not cheating" is only half of what "trust" means, and frankly, it's the easy half. I think most GMs act on the assumption that no one is cheating until they encounter evidence to suggest otherwise.

Then there's the other half of trust: "I believe enough in your competence that I'll let you handle it." This is the bigger part of trust, and the one that I think way too few GMs are willing to engage in.

You say that trusting your players is not the issue. But if you're not willing to let THEM tell YOU how something works, if you're not comfortable with character options unless you know them well enough yourself that you'll be able to spot any errors, then you do not trust your players.

It's not about cheating or needing to be in control, those are immaterial to this. What we are all talking about is not us trusting the players, it's about inspiring trust FROM the players.

We want to run a good game and give the players a chance to use their characters how they want to use them but without knowing what that is how can we do it?
You say trust the players to handle it but I say can you tell a story that lets everyone have their moment in the spotlight if you don't know where to point that light?
A GM NEEDS to know what a character can do so they can give them a chance to do it. Not knowing the rules for those characters doesn't let you know how to make those moments happen.
Ignoring what makes a character/class/build special is like having a party of dedicated killing machines and putting them in a all politics/RP adventure. You run a game around the players game style and that's really hard to do if you don't understand what that style is.

Quote:

Unless you can gauge what is and isn't a challenge or whether a party can or cannot overcome a challenge based on their abilities you are either going to have a cakewalk session or a frustrating slog.

No one wants either option so a good GM studies and learns the new rules and then the next book comes out with even more crazy new rules that conflict with other older rules and you just want to scream.

Well, there's part of your problem: you mistakenly think that part of the GM's role is to produce a specific type of experience with a specific challenge level.

If so, you're wrong.

Your role is to present the setting, then step back and see what happens when the PCs are added to the equation. Maybe they lack crucial thing X and struggle, or maybe they have perfect solution Y and succeed with ease, but either way they're getting the chance to help tell the story. If you try to enforce a certain difficulty level instead of letting it be a product of setting plus characters, you've stolen something precious from the players.

I can't speak for everyone, but I loathe tables where I realize the difficulty is always going to be approximately X no matter what abilities I do or don't have. At that point, I'm just watching a bad movie disguised as a roleplaying game.

I have to disagree with this, you are wrong here.

Your job as a GM is to present a fun, involving experience where each player gets to use their character to explore, have fun and overcome a series of interesting and DO-ABLE challenges. It should take into account what the party can and cannot do and should give each of them a chance to contribute. The players are the stars and should be treated as such. If you as a GM don't know what one of your stars can do its impossible to set the stage for them to do it.
Example: If you have a player who is a dedicated trap solver as one of their main abilities and you never put a trap in the game that's that's bad but not knowing what a trap IS is far worse.
That's what we are talking about here, if we don't know what the characters CAN do then how can we ever give them the chance to actually do it?

Quote:

But really the worst thing is nearly ALL of the new material is all about giving players more and better options while really giving the GM next to nothing to challenge those options with.

This is one of the most disturbing GM comments I've read in a long time. I've sometimes suspected that this or that GM had nasty "GM vs Players" attitude, but to have someone literally just come right out and complain that they're losing the arms race... Wow.

That is not what we said, we said Challenge not Compete.

No one enjoys playing a game where Bob the almighty steam rolls over everything and never takes damage or even has the hint of risk. That's boring and those games fall apart, quickly. The goal is for it to be exciting, fun and require some expenditure of resources. If the party can defeat/bypass/overcome every obstacle in their way naked with a stick they found outside then it's no fun for anyone.
Players who use these options want to actually USE them and when everything they run into is instantly destroyed by the basics of their build that is incredibly frustrating for the Player.
THAT'S what we are talking about, PC's power level has reason so drastically because of the glut of options that what is supposed to be a challenging encounter for the party isn't even a speedbump for ONE of them. One of my worst PFS examples was literally player A said wait here at the beginning of the scenario and walked straight through the dungeon to the boss (one shotting everything on the way) and killed it in 1 hit.This took all of 15 minutes. The downside was 2 of the other players admitting they could have done it faster. This is not fun or interesting.

Everything Paizo has released this last 1-2 years has been about increasing PC's options but nothing to actually make those options necessary. There needs to be something appropriate to use those options against.

1/5

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Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.

Color me intrigued.

Scarab Sages

bugleyman wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.
Color me intrigued.

Paint me the same color :)

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Perry Snow wrote:
bugleyman wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.
Color me intrigued.
Paint me the same color :)

Hey, save some of that paint for me!


There is also the fact that a lot of the APs were written before these new feats, traits, classes, etc., came out. Letting players use them can break those modules or APs, just as they throw off home games that were designed before these new features were added. But since Paizo doesn't really say: "We don't recommend allowing the following classes/archetypes/supplements in this AP:" you get stuck with saying yes to things you don't understand or like.

Yes - we can ban the new materials, but since I don't know where they are coming from, and the players want to use them, and the bottom line being this is a GAME and about having fun, I usually allow it and try to wing adapting to them. But there comes a point where I am simply feeling overwhelmed by the sense of how much I don't know. And with every new product, that grows.

Plus, players don't like it when you ban features that made them want to create their character in the first place. I can't blame them. But I, too, have to receive the same respect for spending my time and energy on creating and running a campaign. Both of us want a good experience - the player and the GM. But if the GM is honest and says: "Look, guys, I feel this game getting away from me, and I really want to slow down or take a break and have a chance to learn some of this new material," LET them! Be willing to jump in and help out. Run a Module that uses some of these new features, give everyone a chance to work with them, and then return to your beloved campaign. It will be a better experience for all concerned!

The Exchange 5/5

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Old story time...

in a different game system:
Long ago, I had a group of friends that like Call of Cthuhu (still have the same friends too), but I wasn'r really into the Horror genre. But I ran across a really creepy scenario in a gamer magazine. So I offered to run it for my friends. Now, understand, I didn't know the rules for Call, had played it much less than the other players, and in fact didn't even own the rule books (when everyone else had their copy).

And you know what? It was a great game. A lot of fun. Even though I had to pause several times and ask the players "What does this mean?" In fact it was kind of cool to have the players reacting when I'm basicly going "what? what just happened?"

So I know I can run a game when I don't know the rules as well as my players. If I have a question of how something works, I just ask (or if it needs to be spoilered, I hold it till the story is unfolding and say..."Exactly how does Power Attack work again?" or "What's the feat Hot Flaming Death do exactly?" or even "at this point all the players looking in the room take 2d8 sanity loss... why's eveyone looking at me like that?"

I default to trusting my players. Just like I default to trusting my Judge... We're all telling this story together, and that's the way I like it. I think all of my bad experiences at the RPG game table have been when that trust is lost, when the game becomes "Us vs. Them" with the judge vs. players (or players vs. players),

That's why I try to play "Conspiratorial" games and not "Confrontational" games... I like to play "with" not "against". And if the table misses some rule? We all miss it. Maybe after the game we say - "you know, I don't think we did that right..." (and not "you cheated back then...").

5/5

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Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
a good GM needs to feel confident in that they are making the right call
Why?

Because feeling confident in yourself and what you are doing matters. Nothing is more immersion-breaking in a game as a GM who doesn't feel comfortable in what they are doing. A GM who is unsure of what's going on has serious problems keeping the story flowing and track of everything that's happening in the game.

It's like the new guy at the office who has no idea of what processes or tools the team has or is using and is lost in every meeting. That is intensely uncomfortable and really does not inspire respect or confidence from the rest of those at the table.

This is one of those places where everyone is right, but problems still exist.

Confidence is a great place to GM from - for immersion, speed, etc. This is my normal mode. It makes handling unusual (rules-grey) situations easier, since you have a strong backdrop to say (if just to yourself) "there's no rule for that, so let's go with this". GM like this is a thrill.

Recently, I've had to switch modes when running PFS, and run as Jiggy suggests, with trust, modest questioning when needed, and a light hand. It works, and can even help story-focus a bit, but has consequences. I can't assist a player when they're confused, can't challenge everyone appropriately, can't make ad hoc rulings as easily (much more likely to cause a conflicting response). And I feel small and somewhat helpless. This is GMing as a chore.

5/5

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I guess what I find amazing is that a lot of people here seem to have GMs that make lots of bad calls and are stubborn about it, "often wrong but never in doubt". I have had a GM or two like that, for sure. I have also had dozens of players at my tables where they didn't know the relevant rules, or had interpreted a grey area of the rules based on a fringe forum post which wasn't widely accepted, or were using illegal resources, or didn't have the rules present, or were still playing 3.5, or ...

specific example:
I had a player last month who thought that the "Max Dex Bonus" of a suit of armor was actually granted by the armor (making leather armor give +10 to AC). Yes, that's an extreme case, but it didn't get caught until the third encounter when I finally missed with a really high number and asked about it - my assumption that he knew the rules was unfounded.

I would LOVE to have most of the posters in this forum as players at my table, but please remember, you are not representative of the PFS community at large. You play a lot, you are invested enough to frequent the forums and post regularly, you have PFS's interests at heart. Of COURSE I would just "trust the players" if they were nosig and Jiggy and BNW and Majuba! But most players are NOT, and THAT is why GMs need rules which support their decision-making and their authority at the table.

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

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I really, really, really want to trust my players to know the rules for their characters. But I just GMed Eyes of the Ten for a 12th level Slumber Hex Witch who didn't even know you can't Slumber Hex someone twice in the same 24 hour period (at least not without a feat) and that Evil Eye doesn't work on undead. Sometimes they just make it sooooooo hard!

The Exchange 5/5

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Not to long ago I got to teach PFS to a Mother/Daughter pair of new players. The daughter (aged 12?13?) wanted to run a Summoner. While helping them with character creation and the mechanics of learning the game, I explained to her that I didn't know the rules for the Summoner and she would need to do most of that work on her own. Basic mechanics I know, CRB stuff, that sort of thing, but the details of the Summoner stuff? that she was going to have to research. So, some time later, I'm running the game in a shop and a different player asks me something about how Eidolons work. I think I was needing to make a call on a Summoner rule... so I glanced at the other table where my 13 year old expert was and asked her. She gave me what she thought was the right answer, and we went with that. (Later I even read up on it, more so I would learn it rather than check up on her answer...).

Her mother told me later that it kind of made her day. It made her hours of reading the rule book totally worth it...

And you know what? I might just start a Summoner (I got a character idea now)... but when I get a chance, I'm going to run my write-up by my 13 year old "expert" - because I trust her rules knowledge.

Liberty's Edge

I think many players greatly enjoy an expanding body of supplemental material and I agree with the recommendations above regarding how to run a game using it.

I’m one of the minority that find allowing expanding rules within a campaign reduces my enjoyment.

I started PF organized play only a few months ago, and I’m having a blast with it. But I can already sense that it’s going to run its course for me relatively soon as the accumulated weight of additional rules lead to it no longer providing the elements I find most enjoyable.

A consistent set of rules enhances verisimilitude for me by creating a sense that I understand how the world works. When the rules expand, I lose some immersion. It can all be rationalized away, but I haven’t been able to really succeed at that. Over time, I find it impossible to pretend the world has sufficient internal consistency to maintain suspension of disbelief. For me, it’s like having a movie director step into frame and announce to the audience that they’re just watching a movie.

I also find that new rules tend to slow down the game as people who are still learning them have to refer to the source material, often in the middle of combat.

I’ve GMed extensively for several game systems over the past 30 years, but I’m not the right person to GM organized play. I understand the idea of GMing by presenting the scenario as written and then letting the players describe what the rules let their characters do, but I enjoy it more when I understand those rules. It might let me find a more interesting way to play encounters; it lets me help the players ensure they’re applying the rules correctly; it prevents other players having to choose between correcting a fellow player or letting a mistake go by; it lets the players focus on role-playing their characters because someone else is making sure the mechanics are done right.

I aspire to a sort of Zen rules-fu, where the players focus on the story they’re telling, the choices they’re making, and the characters they’re playing, with the rules applied smoothly and without noticeable effort to resolve the consequences of those decisions and actions. That’s hard to do. I think it’s even more difficult at a table where no single person understands all the rules.

Fortunately, there is no real problem here. Organized play will continue to generally use supplements as they are released (helping Paizo make money, stay in business, and continue to make great gaming products). Players like me can find or create home games that limit the use of supplemental material.

But if I had a magic wand, I’d love to find a way to combine the advantages of being able to play more often and with a more diverse group of people, with my preference to play with a constant rule set. Also, maybe we could put a few charges of fly in it :).

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

GM Lamplighter wrote:
I would LOVE to have most of the posters in this forum as players at my table, but please remember, you are not representative of the PFS community at large. You play a lot, you are invested enough to frequent the forums and post regularly, you have PFS's interests at heart. Of COURSE I would just "trust the players" if they were nosig and Jiggy and BNW and Majuba! But most players are NOT, and THAT is why GMs need rules which support their decision-making and their authority at the table.

There's two things that strike me about this post:

First, I've very often seen the "what you see on the internet isn't representative of real life/all of PFS" mantra, but this is the first time I've been told that the average person is worse than the internet.

Second, I'm looking at the last two sentences, and imagining the outcry, gnashing of teeth, post-removal and thread-locking that would happen if someone said the same thing about GMs: that of COURSE we could just "trust the GMs" if they were nosig and Lamplighter and BNW and Majuba, but most GMs are NOT, and THAT is why players need rules which support XYZ. Can you imagine someone posting something like that? I shudder just thinking about such a thread.

The Exchange 5/5

Jiggy wrote:
GM Lamplighter wrote:
I would LOVE to have most of the posters in this forum as players at my table, but please remember, you are not representative of the PFS community at large. You play a lot, you are invested enough to frequent the forums and post regularly, you have PFS's interests at heart. Of COURSE I would just "trust the players" if they were nosig and Jiggy and BNW and Majuba! But most players are NOT, and THAT is why GMs need rules which support their decision-making and their authority at the table.

There's two things that strike me about this post:

First, I've very often seen the "what you see on the internet isn't representative of real life/all of PFS" mantra, but this is the first time I've been told that the average person is worse than the internet.

Second, I'm looking at the last two sentences, and imagining the outcry, gnashing of teeth, post-removal and thread-locking that would happen if someone said the same thing about GMs: that of COURSE we could just "trust the GMs" if they were nosig and Lamplighter and BNW and Majuba, but most GMs are NOT, and THAT is why players need rules which support XYZ. Can you imagine someone posting something like that? I shudder just thinking about such a thread.

nah, no one would trust me as the Judge...

that's why I have to rely on the players for many rules... even when they are a 13 year old girl.

;)

Grand Lodge

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I trust you about as far as I can throw you nosig.

The most interesting game I ever ran contained three 5 star GMs a 4 star GM and a 3 star GM. Think I could rely on the players to know the rules? Not a chance!

:)


Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.

(O.o)

...Why do I find this unsettling?

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

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Tsriel wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.

(O.o)

...Why do I find this unsettling?

No idea since we havent announced anything.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
GM Lamplighter wrote:
Of COURSE I would just "trust the players" if they were nosig and Jiggy and BNW and Majuba!

You can't trust BNW! He'll show up with Flutter and dominate oozes and monstrous beasts! Its awful AND hilarious!

1/5

Michael Brock wrote:
Tsriel wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.

(O.o)

...Why do I find this unsettling?

No idea since we havent announced anything.

All that we know so far is that change is coming -- which is probably why he's concerned. People tend to worry about things in the absence of information. That's just human nature. *cue Michael Jackson*


bugleyman wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Tsriel wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.

(O.o)

...Why do I find this unsettling?

No idea since we havent announced anything.
All that we know so far is that change is coming -- which is probably why he's concerned. People tend to worry about things in the absence of information. That's just human nature. *cue Michael Jackson*

Actually change doesn't bother me. The "I didn't officially announce anything eventhough I just officially announced something" mantra does. Its annoying.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Global Organized Play Coordinator

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Tsriel wrote:
bugleyman wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
Tsriel wrote:
Michael Brock wrote:
We've got a solution coming to this that we discussed in a meeting last week. I'm not ready quite yet to reveal it, but I think a fair number of the player base and GMs will like it.

(O.o)

...Why do I find this unsettling?

No idea since we havent announced anything.
All that we know so far is that change is coming -- which is probably why he's concerned. People tend to worry about things in the absence of information. That's just human nature. *cue Michael Jackson*
Actually change doesn't bother me. The "I didn't officially announce anything eventhough I just officially announced something" mantra does. Its annoying.

Actually, I officially announced we have something coming but I'm not ready to discuss the details of it just yet. In the future I will just let a thread dangle without addressing the concerns expressed at all if that is a better solution for the community. I'm not sure that is the best option, but if the preferred method of addressing concerns by the majority of folks here is for me to wait to make any announcements until we are 100% ready to move forward with it, I can certainly take that approach. I'm good either way. Just need to know what the community prefers.

We do have a plan in the works. I was trying to advise we have taken the concerns expressed under consideration and are addressing it. We have several departments that are working on various parts to make it work, so no, I won't give specifics since following that, people ask for a timeline.

What is more annoying? Advising we are addressing concerns expressed but can't disclose details just yet or just ignoring the entire thread altogether until we have everything 100% in place for launch? People get annoyed when they think we are ignoring their concerns. Now people seemingly get annoyed when we advise we are looking to address their concerns.

1/5

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You can't please everyone all the time. For my part, I'd prefer to know things are being looked at.

Grand Lodge

bugleyman wrote:
You can't please everyone all the time. For my part, I'd prefer to know things are being looked at.

Seconded.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

CireJack wrote:
bugleyman wrote:
You can't please everyone all the time. For my part, I'd prefer to know things are being looked at.
Seconded.

Thirded? I second the second?

Whatever. I appreciate the openness.

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

The motion passes.


Michael Brock wrote:
People get annoyed when they think we are ignoring their concerns.

I'd use the word disenchanted, but it's the same idea.

Speaking for myself, I like it when the PFS staff posts just to let us know they are reading. So no complaints from me on your post.


Michael Brock wrote:
...

Sent you a PM.

Silver Crusade

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
The motion passes.

I'm not sure why a single person's voice would kill the idea to keep the community informed, even if it's just a teaser. It's good to know that things are in the hopper.

I suppose it would be great, if/when possible, to give a relative timeline. Such as, you could say we should have more information next week, or next month, or next GenCon, or when the next asteroid hits the planet, whatever.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I like knowing when something is in the works, partly because of the reasons that are common to most folks, but also because I personally find even the most mundane of spoilers/teasers to be super exciting; probably my MtG roots showing there. :)


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Jiggy wrote:


You say that trusting your players is not the issue. But if you're not willing to let THEM tell YOU how something works, if you're not comfortable with character options unless you know them well enough yourself that you'll be able to spot any errors, then you do not trust your players.

Trust does not just mean "I don't suspect malice". It means "I think you can handle this." If you don't think they can handle it, then by definition you do not trust them. Whether it's a GM and his players, a parent and their child that's just learned to drive, or any other situation of risk or vulnerability you can think of; if you're not willing to put them in control of the thing in question (in this case, their own PCs' mechanics), then no, you DON'T trust them.

Here's the thing: I have players with 5th level characters who ask how many hit points and skill points they get when they level up. I have players who don't know you can't take a move action and use two weapon fighting in the same round, and don't understand that you have to apply the TWF penalties when they do make multiple attacks in a round. I explain the why behind the what each time, but they don't pick up on it for whatever reason.

(Some are deliberately obtuse in an attempt to hog the spotlight. If I don't understand the rules they're abusing, how am I going to ensure that other players get their chance? If you don't manage the game to ensure everyone gets a chance and everyone has fun, you lose players.)

It takes work to teach these players the game. But I also have other players at the table who can explain the basics while I move the game along. The Base classes have been around long enough that somebody is at least passingly familiar with just about anything someone shows up with, so I've got that going for me.

And then they bring a Brawler to the next session. Or an Arcanist or Shaman. And they have no idea how to play it and ask me or the other GMs and players. What do I do with that?

These players aren't telling me how their characters work, certainly not in any coherent way, they're asking their GMs how they work.

If the ACG were a one off thing, that would be fine. We'd assimilate the information in it and a year from now there'd be someone at the table who would be able to explain how Arcanists cast while the GM walks a new person through their turn. But the ACG is just in the middle of a bunch of books that have a lot more options, and it looks like we're going to be getting another half dozen new classes while we're still assimilating the ACG classes.

When I started, Paizo was publishing small books monthly that might have a single feat or spell or archetype that one person might use. The changes were small and easy to handle. Hardcovers that made big additions came out slowly (that was actually a selling point when I started: You didn't have the rules bloat from monthly hardcover releases like 3.5). There was, what, a year after Ultimate Equipment came out before there was another hardcover with player options? That's manageable. Inner Sea Gods, Advanced Class Guide, Strategy Guide, Unchained, Occult Adventures: That's drinking from a fire hose.

On top of it all, and it's especially noticeable with the Advanced Class Guide, there are a lot more rules that aren't clearly spelled out in the books. I'm getting more questions about how things work, I'm needing to make more rulings on gray areas than I do with things out of the APG or Core Rulebook, and there's no FAQ support on these new resources to base those rulings on.

You don't show your trust in a 16 year old by throwing car keys at them out of the blue, you teach them first and assess their skills before letting them behind the wheel alone. Big changes are coming out so fast right now that I cannot keep up in order to teach my players who really need the help, and expect _someone_ to be able to help them.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Zach Klopfleisch wrote:
Here's the thing: I have players with 5th level characters who ask how many hit points and skill points they get when they level up. I have players who don't know you can't take a move action and use two weapon fighting in the same round, and don't understand that you have to apply the TWF penalties when they do make multiple attacks in a round.

And these individuals should have the same impact on your general policies of "player trust" as the multiple 4+ star GMs who publicly declared that a wolf going up stairs was as ridiculous as a horse climbing a rope (that is not a made-up example) should have on players' general policies of "GM trust".

Both populations include people who are ridiculous. Neither population should be judged by those examples.

Quote:
These players aren't telling me how their characters work, certainly not in any coherent way, they're asking their GMs how they work.

If they're asking you about this one line in the description that they're not sure about, you read that line, tell them that your "best guess is X and that's how we'll run it today, but consider posting a question online to get a better answer later."

If it's a situation closer to "The word 'arcanist' sounded cool but I have no idea how anything works," then that person is an exception around whom you shouldn't base your general policies. Hand them a pregen and recommend they do some reading before the next session.

Trust first, then be firm with those who can't (yet) be trusted.

Quote:

But the ACG is just in the middle of a bunch of books that have a lot more options, and it looks like we're going to be getting another half dozen new classes while we're still assimilating the ACG classes.

When I started, Paizo was publishing small books monthly that might have a single feat or spell or archetype that one person might use. The changes were small and easy to handle. Hardcovers that made big additions came out slowly (that was actually a selling point when I started: You didn't have the rules bloat from monthly hardcover releases like 3.5). There was, what, a year after Ultimate Equipment came out before there was another hardcover with player options? That's manageable. Inner Sea Gods, Advanced Class Guide, Strategy Guide, Unchained, Occult Adventures: That's drinking from a fire hose.

There's some misinformation here:

First, the Strategy Guide contains nothing new at all. It's more like "here's how to use the CRB".
Second, Unchained is mostly a bunch of houserule suggestions; not likely to be an issue for PFS.
That leaves ISG, ACG, and OA. I don't remember when the ISG came out, but come on, the ACG and OA are exactly a year apart, which is what you said yourself was fine.

You're welcome to your opinions, but when it comes to actual facts, let's at least be honest, okay?

Quote:
You don't show your trust in a 16 year old by throwing car keys at them out of the blue, you teach them first and assess their skills before letting them behind the wheel alone.

You also don't approach someone who just arrived in a car they drove themselves and quiz them about their trip. You assume that since they showed up, they know how to drive, and you trust them until they demonstrate that there might be a problem (such as asking you what a turn signal is). If they drove there themselves, and haven't done anything unsettlingly suspicious, you assume they know how to drive. Just as they should assume the same of you.

Lots of people seem to be wildly misinterpreting what I'm saying.

I'm not saying that every single player will always know the rules for their PC perfectly. I'm saying that players as a population are just as knowledgeable about the rules as GMs are (as a population).

I'm not saying that players should be trusted forever and ever no matter what they say or do that might indicate they're clueless. I'm saying that, just like GMs, they should be trusted up until the point that they demonstrate their ignorance.

I'm not saying we should treat players like they're perfect; I'm saying we should treat players like they're on the same tier as GMs.

Players come from the same pool of human beings as GMs. Players' experience levels can range from "newbie" to "been doing this for 40 years", just like GMs. Players' IQs and rules-fu run the exact same ranges as that of GMs. Players have the same variety of motives, expectations, preferences and playstyles as GMs.

Neither pool is more or less deserving of "innocent until proven guilty" treatment than the other; all I'm advocating is acting on that reality.

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

Jiggy wrote:
I'm not saying we should treat players like they're perfect; I'm saying we should treat players like they're on the same tier as GMs.

Not necessarily disagreeing with you, but this can be difficult to do given that many local gaming cultures expect the GMs to know the rules better than the players.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Then maybe that expectation needs to be challenged and held up against reality to see if it's worth keeping or not.

Honestly, at a table with one GM and six players, how likely is it that the person at the table with the best rules-fu is going to be the GM? Why should we expect reality to defy the six-to-one odds?

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Clearly, we must enact Hunger Games-style deathmatches to determine who GMs.

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

Jiggy wrote:

Then maybe that expectation needs to be challenged and held up against reality to see if it's worth keeping or not.

Honestly, at a table with one GM and six players, how likely is it that the person at the table with the best rules-fu is going to be the GM? Why should we expect reality to defy the six-to-one odds?

Well, it's not exactly an expectation that doesn't have a basis in reality. Most people don't GM until they feel they have a level of rules mastery they feel comfortable with, while we welcome complete newbs as players.

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