What Does "I am running a Pathfinder game" Mean?


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I've seen a lot of angry people on these boards expressing some version of the following sentiment: "If you're going to have pages of house rules and/or restrictions on what I can and can't use, then don't lie and say that you're running a Pathfinder game just because you think that's all people will actually play. When you do that, you're misadvertising and wasting both of our time." Similarly, I've seen several threads devoted specifically to discussions over the degree to which magic and the casting classes can or should be restricted in different types of games.

All of this begs the question that I ask in the title of this thread. I think the Paizo powers-that-be have been spectacularly bad at addressing this issue, and it's a thorny one. See, the folks that say "It's not Pathfinder if you're not playing it exactly (or at least pretty close to exactly) as written" have a valid and understandable argument. The problem is, when you play Pathfinder exactly as written, you get a very specific sort of experience that is simply not what many people are looking for out of the game, for a variety of reasons.

What is that experience? Well, broadly speaking it's a sort of madcap pastiche that makes Final Fantasy VII look staid in comparison, wherein kitsune ninjas battle against or alongside robots and knights and samurai and elves. Wuxia monks run up walls while being shot at by half-angelic steampunk gunslingers. Oh, and now there are psychics. Everything plays out rather predictably if you're familiar with the system. Indeed, it must, since the entire thing is geared around "combat as sport" encounter based play. Everything (including, paradoxically, magic) works very literally, mathematically and unromantically. And typically, it's mostly all about kicking in doors and looting treasure.

Exploration based play is very difficult to achieve meaningfully. Interesting social scenarios, though possible with skilled players, are not emphasized. Indeed, the system works against such play in many ways. It works against aesthetics oriented play as well, since the most optimized options for character creation are almost invariably the least interesting. And all of this is not to mention caster/martial disparity, which is very real. Even if the latter problem can be bridged, doing so requires a whole other set of conventions/assumptions that many find distasteful.

And finally, it is virtually impossible to challenge experienced players without departing from the RAW challenge rating system. Internal balance between party members can also be thrown off quite easily and quite dramatically.

If you have a problem with any of that, you have only one option (assuming you still want to play Pathfinder): make house rules and/or restrict the scope of available options. Yet this leads to an undesirable situation. As a GM you have to field (sometimes quite vehement) discontent over the restrictions you place, and as a player you can never be sure what you are or aren't allowed to do when creating your character. I've seen this issue cause quite a lot of arguments and frustration, and if nothing else it is certainly impractical.

I'd like to hear the community's feedback about these issues, and how we (or Paizo) might be able to address them. If possible, try to avoid rehashing the usual arguments or restating the complaints I already enumerated here. And please, those of you who feel that none of this is a problem: you're welcome to your opinion; I'm just asking you not to voice it here. I know, I know. It's all in the social contract and just don't be a jerk and yada, yada, yada. I've heard it all before and it really doesn't help the situation. In a way, you could say that this post is specifically an attempt to facilitate dialogue that will help players and GMs more easily arrive at a social contract.

A Closing Thought:
As an example of what I'm talking about, Paizo's confusion regarding these issues is illustrated particularly well by the Advanced Race Guide. What on earth does it mean to have "featured" and "uncommon" races? That the GM gets to decide whether those races are allowed in play or not? Isn't that always the case? What is the point or the value of telling players that a given race is "uncommon?" In what setting (since they don't seem to mean in Golarion)? According to whom? My campaign might focus on the longstanding total war between the world's two dominant races: the Samsarans and the Strix (this might look a lot like the comic Saga). In my Westeros inspired setting, the grippli aren't "uncommon" at all, because they're completely, non-negotiably non-existent. But then, in that world elves, gnomes, dwarves, halflings and half orcs might be too, despite their inclusion in the Core.


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I think you're setting up a bit of a straw man. I think people push back against calling a game PF when major mechanically options are restricted, e.g., no spells above a certain level. Obviously it's a spectrum of inclusion. I doubt many people take the position that PF must include every single option. But similarly, there is an essence to what PF is, not easily expressible, but given some examples I can tell you at least why I personally think the sort of game is not very PFery.

PF is great when it allows for all games. I think it's when people want to run martial dominant games in the PF chassis that people raise an eyebrow.


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It means running a game that the players and DM call "Pathfinder". What people on the forums who arent playing the game call it doesnt really matter.

Is there any confusion in the real world when someone says "I'm running a pathfinder game and here are my house rules"? Who cares if what you mean isnt what someone else on the internet means - whether it's high magic, low magic, race-restricted, anything goes, no-3PP,.... or anything else. Provided everyone at the table knows what's going on, I'm just not seeing a problem.

If you're telling some strangers "I'm running a game of pathfinder" and then surprising them when they turn up to the first session with a whole bunch of extreme houserules then you're being silly and self-defeating - but the problem isnt one of nomenclature.


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At minimum, if you want to claim to be playing "Pathfinder" without any other qualifier like say Pathfinder Society, or Pathfinder E6, you need to be using almost everything in the CRB. You can probably work in a few minor houserules that don't really change the game very much and still call it Pathfinder as well. But when you are drastically adjusting wealth expectations (up or down), removing classes or giving classes significant buffs or nerfs, it's time to start adding qualifiers.

For example Pathfinder Society makes pretty sweeping changes to item crafting, number of "permanent" spells you can have and what classes can take Bestiary feats. Thus, I feel it is appropriate that it is called Pathfinder Society instead of Pathfinder, since those are rather significant changes.

I concur with Create Mr. Pitt in that you seem to be setting up something a straw man. I can add more or less sugar to lemonade and still call it lemonade. I can't add lemon juice to Red Bull and call it lemonade. It's a scale and not a hardline admittedly, but that's the way of many things.

Let's put it this way, if you are making a similar amount of changes from default Pathfinder as Pathfinder made from 3.5 (which really isn't that many) you should start thinking about calling it something else or adding one hell of a qualifier.


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I think there are degrees.

My GM tells me that he's not comfortable with me making Golems, even though I get the feat for it? That doesn't mean I'm not playing Pathfinder anymore. That just means I'm playing Pathfinder and can't make Golems, but can have fun with the other 99.9% of the game.

But if a GM tells me no magic, humans only, he's changing the feat system to X, he's changing the AC system, the Monk is banned because he thinks Monks are broken, and so forth... then yeah. At that point he's going to have to massively rebalance everything such that it might be easier to find a new game system to work within.

Houserules, when presented for legitimate reasons, are fine. A rule that says "Combat Expertise is now just how Fighting Defensively works, everybody has it, don't need it for pre-reqs because I don't like that feat tax on martials" doesn't mean we're not playing "real" Pathfinder anymore. I think that the problem comes in when people change major aspects of the game for reasons that aren't so well considered.

And an important corollary to that is that you can change even those major those things if you do it awesomely. Normally, I hate being locked into racial choices, because I like the weird ones. Not necessarily the incredibly-optimized races, but just being... different. But honestly? Yeah, I kinda want to know what goes down in the Strix/Samsaran war.

As a GM, the more you entice your players the more you can get away with. It's easy to convince someone to play bog-standard Pathfinder. It's harder to convince someone to play your massively homebrewed and restricted version. One of the problems that I think I see on the boards is that people post their homebrewed rules, and we tend to look at this through the lens of "okay, they're probably playing in Golarion", so we don't tend to be accepting of mass changes. But drawing us into the world of the GM, changes-- heavily restrictive and otherwise-- become much more palatable.


Steve Geddes wrote:

It means running a game that the players and DM call "Pathfinder". What people on the forums who arent playing the game call it doesnt really matter.

Is there any confusion in the real world when someone says "I'm running a pathfinder game and here are my house rules"? Who cares if what you mean isnt what someone else on the internet means - whether it's high magic, low magic, race-restricted, anything goes, no-3PP,.... or anything else. Provided everyone at the table knows what's going on, I'm just not seeing a problem.

If you're telling some strangers "I'm running a game of pathfinder" and then surprising them when they turn up to the first session with a whole bunch of extreme houserules then you're being silly and self-defeating - but the problem isnt one of nomenclature.

No one on the messageboard will preemptively tell you are doing it wrong. People will tell you that, however, when those DM's PPP into the advice forum with a "problem player" issue and then describe a completely reasonable character build under normal conditions; then the boards will tell them, "if you want to run gimpfinder you should advertise it that way."

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Paizo's stance is that everyone should play/run the game as they wish. It's not the game's fault if there's a disagreement between a GM and player concerning that.

Erick Wilson wrote:
As an example of what I'm talking about, Paizo's confusion regarding these issues is illustrated particularly well by the Advanced Race Guide. What on earth does it mean to have "featured" and "uncommon" races? That the GM gets to decide whether those races are allowed in play or not? Isn't that always the case? What is the point or the value of telling players that a given race is "uncommon?" In what setting (since they don't seem to mean in Golarion)? According to whom? My campaign might focus on the longstanding total war between the world's two dominant races: the Samsarans and the Strix (this might look a lot like the comic Saga). In my Westeros inspired setting, the grippli aren't "uncommon" at all, because they're completely, non-negotiably non-existent. But then, in that world elves, gnomes, dwarves, halflings and half orcs might be too, despite their inclusion in the Core.

It means the game assumes that most players will have characters of a race similar in flavor and balance to the core races. With uncommon races, you're dealing with characters that can disguise themselves at will (kitsune), can fly at first level (strix), have no legs (merfolk), and are rather inhuman. This is something a GM should take into consideration when designing their campaign, even if running a game where these races are commonplace.


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I would expect the basic rules (combat, skill checks, movement, etc) follow core rulebook guidelines, and that a substantial number of class/races/spells/equipment that are listed in the core rule book would be valid. Maybe one of the above could be tweaked without much issue (a human only game, or no class x)

I also tend to think that OP post manages to both blow things completely out of proportion (I don't think anyone at Paizo expects every single option in a rulebook that was ever published to be open for player use), and also tries to flame as many different groups as possible in one paragraph.


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BigDTBone wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

It means running a game that the players and DM call "Pathfinder". What people on the forums who arent playing the game call it doesnt really matter.

Is there any confusion in the real world when someone says "I'm running a pathfinder game and here are my house rules"? Who cares if what you mean isnt what someone else on the internet means - whether it's high magic, low magic, race-restricted, anything goes, no-3PP,.... or anything else. Provided everyone at the table knows what's going on, I'm just not seeing a problem.

If you're telling some strangers "I'm running a game of pathfinder" and then surprising them when they turn up to the first session with a whole bunch of extreme houserules then you're being silly and self-defeating - but the problem isnt one of nomenclature.

No one on the messageboard will preemptively tell you are doing it wrong. People will tell you that, however, when those DM's PPP into the advice forum with a "problem player" issue and then describe a completely reasonable character build under normal conditions; then the boards will tell them, "if you want to run gimpfinder you should advertise it that way."

Yes, as I said. The issue is one of communication.

If you're ruling out some elements of Pathfinder as "unreasonable" (or whatever bothers you about those elements) you should tell the people who are going to be playing with you in advance.

Quibbling over "what is pathfinder" with internet people you're not going to play with isnt helpful - being clear with the people you're actually going to play the game with is much more useful.


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Erick Wilson wrote:
I've seen a lot of angry people on these boards expressing some version of the following sentiment: "If you're going to have pages of house rules and/or restrictions on what I can and can't use, then don't lie and say that you're running a Pathfinder game just because you think that's all people will actually play. When you do that, you're misadvertising and wasting both of our time."

I have not seen these, but I am not here like I used to be. With that said if you change anything enough, then it is no longer that thing. As an example at some point a car becomes a truck or an SUV if you change it enough. How much that is can never really be quantified for Pathfinder however. What one can do to avoid the "false advertising" claim is to find out if your ideal and the other person's ideal of Pathfinder match up. I only play on roll20, and many GM's will say "I run my games like this". So far I have not read any descriptions that say "not Pathfinder" to me, but I have seen some that I would not enjoy. As a GM you should list houserules up front or people will expect a large resemblance to the rules in the book. As a player, if you are experiencing this then ask the GM's for house rules before you play the game. Those being accused of false advertising might still see it as Pathfinder, while the player might not.

Quote:


Similarly, I've seen several threads devoted specifically to discussions over the degree to which magic and the casting classes can or should be restricted in different types of games.

This is always a matter of opinion since we have different playstyles and different things we enjoy in a game. People like to argue as if "my way is right", but in reality your way is just your way.

Quote:
All of this begs the question that I ask in the title of this thread. I think the Paizo powers-that-be have been spectacularly bad at addressing this issue, and it's a thorny one. See, the folks that say "It's not Pathfinder if you're not playing it exactly (or at least pretty close to exactly) as written" have a valid and understandable argument. The problem is, when you play Pathfinder exactly as written, you get a very specific sort of experience that is simply not what many people are looking for out of the game, for a variety of reasons.

The PF devs know that is not their place to tell anyone how(the right way) to play the game. Even the devs themselves has views that don't match up with the rules. Another thing is that even when using the same rules interpretations how someone GM's also has a large affect on how the player experiences the game.

Quote:


Exploration based play is very difficult to achieve meaningfully. Interesting social scenarios, though possible with skilled players, are not emphasized. Indeed, the system works against such play in many ways. It works against aesthetics oriented play as well, since the most optimized options for character creation are almost invariably the least interesting. And all of this is not to mention caster/martial disparity, which is very real. Even if the latter problem can be bridged, doing so requires a whole other set of conventions/assumptions that many find distasteful.

Exploration based play is not difficult, but much like investigation based adventures you(general statement) need to realize that the game changes as you level up, and some things just don't work well. So if you are trying to emulate trope X then you might need to keep the players between levels A and B.

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And finally, it is virtually impossible to challenge experienced players without departing from the RAW challenge rating system. Internal balance between party members can also be thrown off quite easily and quite dramatically.

I don't find this to be true. I do however think that you need to have good system mastery and/or not allow for every book to be used. As for internal balance that also can decrease by levels, but if you have a group of people willing to help each other outside of gametime to make sure the other player does not fall behind then things are a lot easier. When I play with someone who knows less than I do, I have always offered advice. They have not always taken it, but they know I am there to offer help if needed. Part of this also goes back to people wanting to play the game the same way, and how the GM will handle someone wanting to do certain things. Sometimes people just are not compatible at the same table.

Quote:


If you have a problem with any of that, you have only one option (assuming you still want to play Pathfinder): make house rules and/or restrict the scope of available options. Yet this leads to an undesirable situation. As a GM you have to field (sometimes quite vehement) discontent over the restrictions you place, and as a player you can never be sure what you are or aren't allowed to do when creating your character. I've seen this issue cause quite a lot of arguments and frustration, and if nothing else it is certainly impractical.

I would not say you to do anything. It really depends on how big the problem is, and if there is another way to handle it. As an example I played a druid, and we had a rogue who wanted to scout. Now I could changed into a small animal and outscouted him if I put any effort into it, but I let him have his thing. That is how one can solve a problem before it starts without resorting to houserules. I also helped him get a better perception outside of the game so he would not get ambushed.

Quote:

I'd like to hear the community's feedback about these issues, and how we (or Paizo) might be able to address them. If possible, try to avoid rehashing the usual arguments or restating the complaints I already enumerated here. And please, those of you who feel that none of this is a problem: you're welcome to your opinion; I'm just asking you not to voice it here. I know, I know. It's all in the social contract and just don't be a jerk and yada, yada, yada. I've heard it all before and it really doesn't help the situation. In a way, you could say that this post is specifically an attempt to facilitate dialogue that will help players and GMs more easily arrive at a social contract.

I also think "it is not a problem" is a valid argument. Many things on the boards are not problems at the actual table. So I really don't pay a lot of attention to any problems based on play style, other than to try to avoid them. As for people arriving at a social contract, that is not hard to do if both people communicate and are not overtaken by emotion. Let's go back to the claim of "wasting time. Unless a player plans things out to level 20 it does not take more than 30 minutes to create a first level character. He submits to the GM, and the GM says X, Y and Z are not allowed even though they are in the book. At this point the player should ask "is there anything else you have changed" or something similar. The GM should at this point make any changes known. The player then decides to play or not play. Of course like I said before this should have been handled before the character was made, but even after the fact, it is something you should only have to experience once, and there is no need to get "super angry" over it. Now sometimes the problems come down to play styles. If a GM has no problem allowing PC's to die or if he intends to run a gritty campaign, he should say so up front. The same applies if he wants to run a relaxed game. Some players hate the idea of character death, and some hate to be saved by the GM. There are other things also that GM's do differently from each other. A large part of this problem is that people think "things should be like this...". That is wrong. They should be saying "this is how I like to play the game". As an example many GM's expect for you(the player) to come up with the convincing speech, when the rules call for your character to do it. I understand that it can be somewhat dull if you have a player who prefers to let the dice talk for him, but to say "that is how things should be" is like saying that is the "right" way. There really are many "right" ways to play the game. Just be decent towards your fellow man. Almost anything beyond that is just an opinion when it comes to playstyle.

Quote:


A Closing Thought:
As an example of what I'm talking about, Paizo's confusion regarding these issues is illustrated particularly well by the Advanced Race Guide. What on earth does it mean to have "featured" and "uncommon" races? That the GM gets to decide whether those races are allowed in play or not? Isn't that always the case? What is the point or the value of telling players that a given race is "uncommon?" In what setting (since they don't seem to mean in Golarion)? According to whom? My campaign might focus on the longstanding total war between the world's two dominant races: the Samsarans and the Strix (this might look a lot like the comic Saga). In my Westeros inspired setting, the grippli aren't "uncommon" at all, because they're completely, non-negotiably non-existent. But then, in that world elves, gnomes, dwarves, halflings and half orcs might be too, despite their inclusion in the Core.

As for the race question it is assumed that the common races are intended to be allowed by the rules. The featured races suitable as PC's but not as likely to be seen in a game, and the uncommon races are less availible(they may not even exist) and less likely to be seen than the featured races. That(reason for different categories) is because there are races that while they are not core people have a desire to play them, so the book gave them stats and writeups to make the GM's life easier. It also let the GM's know that these races are ok. Many GM's only go exactly by what Paizo says is ok, and they won't budge from it.

None of this means the GM is not allowed to say his world only has certain races, and does not have the common races, but it helps to let a GM know how things in fantasyland typically are. While many GM's may not use Golarion, they still go off the default assumption of the core races all being available, and other races not being as numerous.


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Steve Geddes wrote:

It means running a game that the players and DM call "Pathfinder". What people on the forums who arent playing the game call it doesnt really matter.

Is there any confusion in the real world when someone says "I'm running a pathfinder game and here are my house rules"? Who cares if what you mean isnt what someone else on the internet means - whether it's high magic, low magic, race-restricted, anything goes, no-3PP,.... or anything else. Provided everyone at the table knows what's going on, I'm just not seeing a problem.

If you're telling some strangers "I'm running a game of pathfinder" and then surprising them when they turn up to the first session with a whole bunch of extreme houserules then you're being silly and self-defeating - but the problem isnt one of nomenclature.

I agree. From what I read of the OP's post people were mad when they were not given any notice about houserules. Once someone has a copy of the houserules they are free to stay or walk. If they stay, they should not be mad if the GM has been up front about everything.


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On the forums, I find that a majority of the time when someone says "you aren't playing Pathfinder" is when someone starts a thread saying something like "Wizards are terribly underpowered!" or "Rogues are AMAZING!Why does everyone say they suck?", people then come in and explains the reasonings and then we find out that the OP's DM has so heavily houseruled the game that it's no wonder why the OP is saying that.

I have seriously seen people say how the fighter is overpowered in their game, and then mention how the DM has basically combined all the abilities of fighter rogue and monk, and taken the best of their saves and bab. And then limited casters to only six level casting and has removed all save or suck, teleportation, and divination abilities.

Is the game still technically Pathfinder? Yes. but you can't expect that player's experience to match that of a typical PF game.


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I'm angry about people I will never meet playing the game differently.

Grand Lodge

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Erick Wilson wrote:

I've seen a lot of angry people on these boards expressing some version of the following sentiment: "If you're going to have pages of house rules and/or restrictions on what I can and can't use, then don't lie and say that you're running a Pathfinder game just because you think that's all people will actually play. When you do that, you're misadvertising and wasting both of our time." Similarly, I've seen several threads devoted specifically to discussions over the degree to which magic and the casting classes can or should be restricted in different types of games.

All of this begs the question that I ask in the title of this thread. I think the Paizo powers-that-be have been spectacularly bad at addressing this issue, and it's a thorny one.

It's not a thorny issue. It isn't even an issue at all, Pathfinder was made for players and GMs over the mental and emotional age of five. When you have players and GMs that don't fit that qualification you have problems that no game company can address... nor should they be required to.

And by the way...among all those bits of RAW you and others are looking to make a mountain out of a molehill are.. among them include the bit that the rules serve the GM... not the other way around.

The bulk of the threads you're describing are simply plain BS and chest thumping. The bulk of them are problems drawn from theorycraft rather than actual play, the rest are drawn from temper tantrums or simply bad play and GMing.


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LazarX wrote:


And by the way...among all those bits of RAW you and others are looking to make a mountain out of a molehill are.. among them include the bit that the rules serve the GM... not the other way around.

The bulk of the threads you're describing are simply plain BS and chest thumping. The bulk of them are problems drawn from theorycraft rather than actual play, the rest are drawn from temper tantrums or simply bad play and GMing.

Wrong. The rules serve the players, of which the GM is only one of. The bulk of the problems that you dismiss as "theorycraft" are real problems if you are actually playing Pathfinder, instead of Pathfinder: Poorly Chosen Fixes Edition. Many people on these forms who actually play *PATHFINDER* experience these. If you do not experience these issues, one very likely possibility is that you do not experience them because you are not in fact playing Pathfinder.


I agree with Kestral in that there are degrees. Pathfinder has a lot of interchangeable parts, but at the core of it is the d20 system. As I've stated in another thread, Pathfinder by proxy of the d20 system has a core mechanic and everything else is kind of built around that. Houserules are inherited from D&D, the system itself is kind of like a living breathing thing with children that evolves through the generations.

As far as Paizo's stance, are fine with it as long as it isn't tarnishing their name or causing legal/copyright/licensing issues as far as I know.

If you want something substantial to hold onto, if you've got at least the d20 mechanic, attack bonus, hit dice and hit points, races, classes, levels, skills, feats, spells, and equipment in a fantasy setting, most people will accept it being called Pathfinder.

There are some people who are more picky about the term Pathfinder, but that's why GMs should be upfront about what kind of houserules they're using and what kind of game (tone and setting) they're running. The game is full of a lot of guidelines that some treat like a unbreakable code (even though the history and nature of D&D goes against such a rigid view). PFS is another story, but that's because it's played with many players and GMs and they need to be able to cooperate with having to figure out how to convert a character from one table to another. Even in PFS, the GM sometimes has to make a judgment call.


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What is this thread, a honey pot for No True Scotsman fallacies?


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Steve Geddes wrote:

It means running a game that the players and DM call "Pathfinder". What people on the forums who arent playing the game call it doesnt really matter.

Is there any confusion in the real world when someone says "I'm running a pathfinder game and here are my house rules"? Who cares if what you mean isnt what someone else on the internet means - whether it's high magic, low magic, race-restricted, anything goes, no-3PP,.... or anything else. Provided everyone at the table knows what's going on, I'm just not seeing a problem.

If you're telling some strangers "I'm running a game of pathfinder" and then surprising them when they turn up to the first session with a whole bunch of extreme houserules then you're being silly and self-defeating - but the problem isnt one of nomenclature.

I remember many, many years ago being told "Hey, we are playing D&D Sunday." We showed and the GM mentioned that he was going to swap out the mechanics for those from Battletech, or Top Secret, or whatever else tickled his fancy that week. And we played "D&D" -- the story and game was the same, really. What we rolled was different that week or few weeks, but the game was the same.

I don't think I've ever played a game where there were not house rules. Like .. ever. Maybe our first one when we were all shiny and new and only had the books for like a day. But once we'd gone over them or played a few times? House rules galore. And it was still D&D, or Pathfinder, or whatever the system was. It was implied and expected that there was some variation.

Grand Lodge

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Quote:
What Does "I am running a Pathfinder game" Mean?

It means you are using the Pathfinder rules set. However much of it you may be using.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Quote:
What Does "I am running a Pathfinder game" Mean?
It means you are using the Pathfinder rules set. However much of it you may be using.

If you only have the chocolate chip without the rest of the cookie, you no longer have a chocolate chip cookie. 3.5 uses some of Pathfinder's rules, would you really say that is appropriate to say "We're playing Pathfinder.", when you are playing 3.5?

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder is not a cookie.

If you're playing 3.5, you're playing 3.5.

If you're playing Pathfinder, you're playing Pathfinder.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Quote:
What Does "I am running a Pathfinder game" Mean?
It means you are using the Pathfinder rules set. However much of it you may be using.

^this.

If you sit down at the table and tell your players "No you can't play a kitsune ninja, I'm not allowing that"

Then their cry of "you're not playing pathfinder" isn't valid.

I personally and regularly annoyed by all the furies and other odd races as PCs.

No, you can't play Groot just because you saw a movie last night.

Doesn't mean "It's not pathfinder" because you can find something in print that might let you do what you want to.

GM can opt in, or out of Leadership feat, why can't he opt out of kitsune ninja?

One of the first things a person does when he sits down to play cards is…ask "what are the house rules"?
Pretty much same thing goes for new players at a RPG Table.
If a poker player doesn't like the house rules… he doesn't anti in…. simple.
I think this is just 12 year olds holding their breath and turning blue because the GM won't let them play a gunslinger cyborg or something else.


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Pendagast wrote:


One of the first things a person does when he sits down to play cards is…ask "what are the house rules"?

And a GM also hands out the house rules. Both are at fault if neither brings it up.

As a GM I hand out house rules. As a player I ask for them.


MMCJawa wrote:


I also tend to think that OP post manages to both blow things completely out of proportion (I don't think anyone at Paizo expects every single option in a rulebook that was ever published to be open for player use), and also tries to flame as many different groups as possible in one paragraph.

I don't see that at all, and think you are being thin-skinned.

Telling people that they are entitled to their opinions but he doesn't want a rehash of those opinions in this particular thread is not "flaming" them.

You are illustrating WHY he said what he did.


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TOZ wrote:

Pathfinder is not a cookie.

If you're playing 3.5, you're playing 3.5.

If you're playing Pathfinder, you're playing Pathfinder.

And somewhere along the line, it became the case that if you are playing PF with all of the 3.5 stuff that doesn't directly contradict the PF rules, you are POSTING FLAMEBAIT IF YOU MENTION A PROBLEM YOU ARE HAVING IN YOUR CAMPAIGN!!!ii!111eleven1!!!onehundredandeleven!!11i1!

Edit: The local theory is that many of the people who have conniptions over this are either optimizers who never bought most of the 3.5 books, or have since disposed of them.


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"I am running a Pathfinder Game" means as much and as little as "I'm running a D&D Game" has ever meant. Whether that's PF combat system, Fighters and Rogues only, or 3.5 Gestalt half-LA Monster PCs fighting against a 1st edition world, doesn't matter. You talk to the DM, you talk to the other players, and you figure it out.

Your expectations are yours.


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"I'm running a Pathfinder game." is not a statement that precludes houserules, but you cannot expect people to infer those rules from that statement.

If that is all you say, and then after people build characters, you spring extra rules on them, that will be an issue.

I always tell my players that that statement means anything within the PRD. If you want other stuff, run it be me.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

"Playing Pathfinder" can mean something different to each person playing it.

The trick is to find a group of people that all agree on the basic definition of what "playing Pathfinder" is and play with them.

Everything else is noise.

-Skeld

Sovereign Court

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The only time I get annoyed is when people ask for advice on the boards to deal with different issues, and are then dismissive of all of the perfectly reasonable options people put forth because they don't mesh with their own plethora of house-rules.

So - I'd say that one should be forthcoming with one's house-rules when asking for game advice as well as to one's players.

(Also of note - I'll agree with previous statements that the OP is straw-manning pretty darn hard.)


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PRD/Getting Started wrote:

The Most Important Rule

The rules presented are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of “house rules” that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules, the Pathfinder RPG is a shared experience, and all of the players should contribute their thoughts when the rules are in doubt.

Making changes to the game to customize it or make it better adapt to the type of game you're aiming for is, actually, a codified rule in the game. In essence, no amount of house-ruling can change the game from being Pathfinder so long as you start from the Pathfinder basics. It also goes on to specify that the GM is the "final arbiter" of the rules; the game itself doesn't "belong" to the GM, it belongs to all the players as a shared experience. Most of the problems experienced arise from the situation where the GM violates The Most Important Rule and starts implementing houserules without discussion as if the game belonged to him and him alone. If you're in the middle of a session and declare that you're going to do the thing and the GM just drops out of nowhere, "Oh, no, you can't do the thing because houserule," when you'd ordinarily be able to do the thing, that would, understandably, piss most people off. But if it was discussed beforehand and agreed upon by the players, that hardly makes the game "no longer Pathfinder" because it's part of the rules to come up with changes to the system.


wraithstrike wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

It means running a game that the players and DM call "Pathfinder". What people on the forums who arent playing the game call it doesnt really matter.

Is there any confusion in the real world when someone says "I'm running a pathfinder game and here are my house rules"? Who cares if what you mean isnt what someone else on the internet means - whether it's high magic, low magic, race-restricted, anything goes, no-3PP,.... or anything else. Provided everyone at the table knows what's going on, I'm just not seeing a problem.

If you're telling some strangers "I'm running a game of pathfinder" and then surprising them when they turn up to the first session with a whole bunch of extreme houserules then you're being silly and self-defeating - but the problem isnt one of nomenclature.

I agree. From what I read of the OP's post people were mad when they were not given any notice about houserules. Once someone has a copy of the houserules they are free to stay or walk. If they stay, they should not be mad if the GM has been up front about everything.

I have met a very small number of people that get mad anyway.

When someone expresses interest in joining one of my games the first thing I do is get their email address to send them the House Rules and Suggestions being used for the campaign. On the first page is specifically says "This rule set is open for discussion. If part of it is giving you particular problems, let me know and we can discuss it as a group." There have been a couple of rules that were tried for a while then the group decided wasn't enhancing their fun. Sometimes it is 3 lines long. Sometimes it is 3 pages long (most of that is actually suggestions). More than half of my house rules actually allow things the PF system does not allow. Yes, I still call it PF.

A very few people have flat ignored the file I sent, shown up at my house with a build that breaks at least half a dozen rules, then demanded that I let them play that character since I said it was a PF game and they are using PF material.

I used to try and work things out with those people. I don't think I will anymore. If you're going to be that obnoxious, you can just leave. I don't need the aggravation as a part of my hobby.


It is hard if not impossible to advertise a game of Pathfinder without using the term Pathfinder even if you have house-rules...

I have never seen an advertisement in a game store where someone actually posted their house-rules. Usually the ad is just a note.

Pathfinder gamers wanted...
contact DM X for details
OR
Meet here Wednesday at 7 PM


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Sounds like the complaint of a purist.

This can be safely ignored.

If people are expected to know the rules from the book that says "Pathfinder" on the cover, then you're running Pathfinder.

The presence or absence of house rules has no bearing on it.

Even Kirthfinder is Pathfinder in some sense, and that's about as heavily house-ruled a thing as I've ever seen.


I have been enjoying Kirthfinder a ton!

But damn some of those rules!!!!

That's one way to make sure they know it's modified Pathfinder!


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Steve Geddes wrote:
It means running a game that the players and DM call "Pathfinder". What people on the forums who arent playing the game call it doesnt really matter.

This.

When I'm playing Pathfinder, unless I've specifically used "Full CRB Rules-as-written", "CRB Only", or some other qualifier then it means "You'll find out when you sit down to play, unless you can be bothered to ask me first."

If playing with people that don't usually sit at my table, I'd almost certainly make sure to qualify it to avoid any misunderstandings.


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Werebat wrote:
TOZ wrote:

Pathfinder is not a cookie.

If you're playing 3.5, you're playing 3.5.

If you're playing Pathfinder, you're playing Pathfinder.

And somewhere along the line, it became the case that if you are playing PF with all of the 3.5 stuff that doesn't directly contradict the PF rules, you are POSTING FLAMEBAIT IF YOU MENTION A PROBLEM YOU ARE HAVING IN YOUR CAMPAIGN!!!ii!111eleven1!!!onehundredandeleven!!11i1!

Edit: The local theory is that many of the people who have conniptions over this are either optimizers who never bought most of the 3.5 books, or have since disposed of them.

I have not seen that. I have seen people post a problem, and then after pages of posting say "well we have house rule X", which changes the dynamics of how the situation would have been approached had they mentioned this up front. As long as people mention it up front most of the people are civil about it. We all have houserules, so I have never seen anyone "lose it" because you mention them, even if we advise not using certain houserules.


ElterAgo wrote:

I have met a very small number of people that get mad anyway.

When someone expresses interest in joining one of my games the first thing I do is get their email address to send them the House Rules and Suggestions being used for the campaign. On the first page is specifically says "This rule set is open for discussion. If part of it is giving you particular problems, let me know and we can discuss it as a group." There have been a couple of rules that were tried for a while then the group decided wasn't enhancing their fun. Sometimes it is 3 lines long. Sometimes it is 3 pages long (most of that is actually suggestions). More than half of my house rules actually allow things the PF system does not allow. Yes, I still call it PF.

A very few people have flat ignored the file I sent, shown up at my house with a build that breaks at least half a dozen rules, then demanded that I let them play that character since I said it was a PF game and they are using PF material.

I used to try and work things out with those people. I don't think I will anymore. If you're going to be that obnoxious, you can just leave. I don't need the aggravation as a part of my hobby.

I agree with this. I have had people not read the rules I put up also, but I never had them demand I change the rules. If so I would state that I sent the rules to them, and there will not be changes.

I was on roll 20 the other day, and guy had his houserules in place, and put in a random fact about himself. He also had a questionnaire which mostly asked about the player's gaming experience. In the middle of the questionnaire he asked a question about that random fact that you would only know if you had read the rules. I think I might start to do that now.


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It means "I'm running something that uses ,at the very least, some of the Pathfinder CRB rules and there's nothin' those Pazio-forum chumps can do about it! Mwahahahaha!*"

*Mwahahahaha! completely optional


I was just on a thread where people were flaming other's for their deviance from the rules, so I know what the OP is talking about.

Unless I run in Golarion(which I haven't done in 4 or 5 years now), I have house rules, and usually a fairly hefty amount of house rules. I have a pretty core group of players, but people leave once in a while, and I'm usually recruiting 1 or 2 new people per campaign.

I create an Obsidian Portal page for every game I run, and post my games house rules on there, which are often several pages. Sometimes, someone doesn't like some of the rules. In this last game someone who "joined" read the rules and didn't like them so left. I still ended up one player above my cap limit(only looking for one player but ended up with 2), and so far everyone is really enjoying it. It is a pretty far deviation away from "Core" PF. I don't get mad that guy left, the pool of players (for me anyway - online) is big enough I can fit in players who actually like my concept.

Now I do agree that sometimes(maybe even often) people do come on the boards and post issues that have a direct effect from their "House Rules" and don't post it up front. That is an issue but not because they had house rules, just because they weren't thinking or didn't know any better. Likewise, I tend to discuss PF from a "Core Rules" perspective, even with my players, unless specifically noted its for a game I'm running/in.

For Instance, I have a player who makes a ton of builds. He comes out and says combo XYZ is good. I say no and explain why. Then he says but I have this house rule in place which makes it good. I go "Oh, you weren't specific this was for my campaign, yup you're right. You already have a PC so I didn't know you were referring to my game." I have actually had this conversation multiple times with one of my players.

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Quote:
What Does "I am running a Pathfinder game" Mean?
It means you are using the Pathfinder rules set. However much of it you may be using.

To me, its this! Now, I think if you throw in 3.5 rules, you are running 3.5 with PF revisions myself, and 3.5 is a totally different beast, so that's 3.5 to me. Otheriwse, its PF.


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Heh. I remember the day when we tried running AD&D with no house rules, using everything in the PH and DMG, and no exceptions. We used weapons vs. armor adjustments. We played a game in which you were 10x better off "pummeling" someone with a staff than you were "attacking" them with a staff (bonus grognard cred if that made sense to you). It was an unplayable mess.

And it occurred to us after that, just how much of every other game we'd ever been in had been houserules. A wondrous range of them, spanning the gamut, but no one ever accused those games of being "not D&D." Houserules were a way of life.

PF nothing but houseruled 3.5e D&D. A lot of people on these boards play it. More houserules get added to it every time Paizo publishes another splatbook. Adding a few more isn't going to usher in the apocalypse.


Kazaan wrote:
PRD/Getting Started wrote:

The Most Important Rule

The rules presented are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of “house rules” that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules, the Pathfinder RPG is a shared experience, and all of the players should contribute their thoughts when the rules are in doubt.
Making changes to the game to customize it or make it better adapt to the type of game you're aiming for is, actually, a codified rule in the game. In essence, no amount of house-ruling can change the game from being Pathfinder so long as you start from the Pathfinder basics.

I am going to disagree. If you say you are playing Pathfinder, but your game is more like some mashup of Shadowrun and Exalted then you are not playing Pathfinder anymore. You are just using the Pathfinder name.

You may have started from Pathfinder and overtime made so many changes that it is not even a D20 game anymore. At some point, as I alluded to with my car vs SUV example, a thing can change enough that it is no longer that original thing.


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I think Pathfinder has actually achieved a critical mass of rules where some serious level of selective editing is needed adventure to adventure.

I'm attempting a game right now where almost everything is allowed and while we're having a lot of fun, it's a bit of a mess rules- and mood-wise.

As written, Pathfinder is now an all-things-to-all-people rule-set, with everything from laser guns to ancient priests to gunslingers to World War I soldiers.

So...if you're going for a specific genre or feel, you'll probably have to draw some clear lines around what's in and what's out. Is it still, at the end of the day, Pathfinder? Sure.

Even Paizo has said, while introducing science fiction and World War I era elements into some of their APs, "We won't use or allow this stuff very often in our stories going forward, but it's fun occasionally..." (I'm paraphrasing...)

So, I'd say at this point rules-modding isn't controversial -- it's essential to the system.

-Marsh


Let me clarify stating that I have no desire to ever play PFS, and that any game of Pathfinder I run might have some houserules applied. That said, when I announce my plans to run a Pathfinder game, I hold no secrets as to whatever variation a given game might also include. I am quite up front about the nature of an intended game. If a game is intended to low magic with any restrictions on class or maximum spell levels, all such variations are explained up front, even before an invitation to join such a game is instigated.

Since I run a weekend game with the same 6 players, year in and year out, and these players enjoy games that aren't generally vanilla fantasy, any variation I want to run are discussed ahead of time, and nobody will be surprised at any presumed direction.

If a GM announces an intended Pathfinder game, but does not also include possible restrictions or specific houserules up front, that I see is a problem. As long as that GM is honest and up front about any variations to a standard game, I consider that a good thing. The OP seems to indicate a problem. If a GM is not fully honest about the intentions of upcoming game, there indeed is a problem.


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wraithstrike wrote:

If you say you are playing Pathfinder, but your game is more like some mashup of Shadowrun and Exalted then you are not playing Pathfinder anymore. You are just using the Pathfinder name.

You may have started from Pathfinder and overtime made so many changes that it is not even a D20 game anymore. At some point, as I alluded to with my car vs SUV example, a thing can change enough that it is no longer that original thing.

We're on to the Ship of Theseus, eh?

It's like I said: the game you're playing is the one you expect your players to know the rules for as a starting point.

If I'm using a heavily houseruled Pathfinder that turns out to only be 40% Pathfinder rules, that's still the book they need to know. But how often does this even happen?

Like the Ship of Theseus, we're onto purely academic problems now.


wraithstrike wrote:
Kazaan wrote:
PRD/Getting Started wrote:

The Most Important Rule

The rules presented are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of “house rules” that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules, the Pathfinder RPG is a shared experience, and all of the players should contribute their thoughts when the rules are in doubt.
Making changes to the game to customize it or make it better adapt to the type of game you're aiming for is, actually, a codified rule in the game. In essence, no amount of house-ruling can change the game from being Pathfinder so long as you start from the Pathfinder basics.

I am going to disagree. If you say you are playing Pathfinder, but your game is more like some mashup of Shadowrun and Exalted then you are not playing Pathfinder anymore. You are just using the Pathfinder name.

You may have started from Pathfinder and overtime made so many changes that it is not even a D20 game anymore. At some point, as I alluded to with my car vs SUV example, a thing can change enough that it is no longer that original thing.

Have to agree with this. While there's no obvious breaking point where a game becomes "Not-Pathfinder," it does exist. If someone says "It's Pathfinder, except there's no classes, only humans for race, no magic, no feats, it's set in modern day, and we're basing it off the d100 instead of d20," then I have to wonder what part of the game is Pathfinder.


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I think the rule 0 thing is pretty lame, as it is an easy escape for the developers to make bad rules, or to not care about balance or what have you.

If you think about it, the "Rule 0" exists for every game. Why is it that Pathfinder gets a free pass? When people find a bug or something in Starcraft, other players don't say "Oh just don't use that" or "Just mod it out if you don't like it, leave our game alone". Instead, they ask Blizzard to fix it.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
CWheezy wrote:

I think the rule 0 thing is pretty lame, as it is an easy escape for the developers to make bad rules, or to not care about balance or what have you.

If you think about it, the "Rule 0" exists for every game. Why is it that Pathfinder gets a free pass? When people find a bug or something in Starcraft, other players don't say "Oh just don't use that" or "Just mod it out if you don't like it, leave our game alone". Instead, they ask Blizzard to fix it.

Not nearly as lame as comparing a people driven interactive paper and dice game with the rigid, determined play of a video game.

If you're expecting a machine level of invariance, why are you playing a game that's moderated by humans?


LazarX wrote:
CWheezy wrote:

I think the rule 0 thing is pretty lame, as it is an easy escape for the developers to make bad rules, or to not care about balance or what have you.

If you think about it, the "Rule 0" exists for every game. Why is it that Pathfinder gets a free pass? When people find a bug or something in Starcraft, other players don't say "Oh just don't use that" or "Just mod it out if you don't like it, leave our game alone". Instead, they ask Blizzard to fix it.

Not nearly as lame as comparing a people driven interactive paper and dice game with the rigid, determined play of a video game.

If you're expecting a machine of invariance, why are you playing a game that's moderated by humans?

It's a generational difference.

I'd rather my rulebook be right than need 50 sticky notes in various places dictating how it is supposed to be run since it's not written well.

It's probably why I enjoy 5e a lot right now. Rules are pretty solid with vague descriptions of how skill checks and other more flavorful stuff works. The dropping of Ivory Tower Design is also awesome. I've yet to see something that I would never take.


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gamer-printer wrote:

Let me clarify stating that I have no desire to ever play PFS, and that any game of Pathfinder I run might have some houserules applied. That said, when I announce my plans to run a Pathfinder game, I hold no secrets as to whatever variation a given game might also include. I am quite up front about the nature of an intended game. If a game is intended to low magic with any restrictions on class or maximum spell levels, all such variations are explained up front, even before an invitation to join such a game is instigated.

Since I run a weekend game with the same 6 players, year in and year out, and these players enjoy games that aren't generally vanilla fantasy, any variation I want to run are discussed ahead of time, and nobody will be surprised at any presumed direction.

If a GM announces an intended Pathfinder game, but does not also include possible restrictions or specific houserules up front, that I see is a problem. As long as that GM is honest and up front about any variations to a standard game, I consider that a good thing. The OP seems to indicate a problem. If a GM is not fully honest about the intentions of upcoming game, there indeed is a problem.

But this goes beyond even house rules, generally the basic design of the campaign is going to be more important upfront than most house rules. Are we playing APs? A PFS home-game? Home-brewed campaign, with an overarching plot like an AP, but more agency? Full on sandbox game?

Even within APs, you'll have different expectations for Kingmaker, Wrath of the Righteous or Skull & Shackles.
What's the setting? Golarion? Converted D&D world? Where in any of those? Home-brewed world?

All of those are things you really need to know before you're ready to play. You can't really expect to get decent results with "We're playing Pathfinder. Bring a character."


Scavion wrote:
LazarX wrote:
CWheezy wrote:

I think the rule 0 thing is pretty lame, as it is an easy escape for the developers to make bad rules, or to not care about balance or what have you.

If you think about it, the "Rule 0" exists for every game. Why is it that Pathfinder gets a free pass? When people find a bug or something in Starcraft, other players don't say "Oh just don't use that" or "Just mod it out if you don't like it, leave our game alone". Instead, they ask Blizzard to fix it.

Not nearly as lame as comparing a people driven interactive paper and dice game with the rigid, determined play of a video game.

If you're expecting a machine of invariance, why are you playing a game that's moderated by humans?

It's a generational difference.

I'd rather my rulebook be right than need 50 sticky notes in various places dictating how it is supposed to be run since it's not written well.

I'd rather the rules be right too and don't like the use of Rule 0 to justify poor rules.

OTOH, rules aren't going to be complete and the brilliance of human-run RPGs is that the human can improvise when the rules either don't cover something or don't give reasonable results in some cases.

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