Tailoring character selection to the scenario


GM Discussion

Sczarni 3/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Germany—Kaiserslautern aka Winter Phoenix

I've always found it awkward to have characters enter into a game that isn't suited for their type of character. For instance, having a party that are mostly combat oriented attempt an espionage scenario like "The Disappeared". It can lead to boredom for those players and jeopardize the mission because they don't have the necessary abilities. Further, thinking about the in-game world, the Venture-Captains would try to choose Pathfinders suited to the task they need accomplished.

Is it legal to let the players know the style of a scenario prior to playing it so they can decide if they want to play it?

For example: If I were to run "Library of the Lion", I might tell them that it is light combat, heavy skill checks, etc. Nothing that would give away the content necessarily.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

I have often done this when advertising games- not just for character selection, but also so payers know if it's the sort of scenario they like. Just one or two sentences saying what sorts of things this scenario emphasizes (combat, sneaking, roleplaying and interaction, puzzles, investigation, etc).

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Winter Phoenix, I wouldn't give away much more than the blurb for the scenario, but what you're talking about is fine.

In world, I would imagine Ambrus Valsin looking through the portfolios of possible agents to send, and making his decision the same way the players would.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Starfinder Superscriber

...and while he looks through those portfolios, the Mission Impossible theme plays.

Silver Crusade 5/5

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I always assumed that when the Venture Captains need some "private" time, they just kicked the freeloading pathfinders out on whatever flimsy mission they could justify.

5/5

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Well, the V-C probably assumes that every Pathfinder has a certain baseline of skills. If a player choose not to make campaign-suited characters but specialize in only one area of their job, they should expect to be put into situations they might not be equipped to handle.

I'm all for players having fun, but I think there are ways to draw in *players* even if their *characters* aren't the best choice for the scenario.

Silver Crusade 3/5

If the scenario focuses on something other than combat, I try to point this out somehow, so people won't get bored/frustrated at the table.

Of course I try to avoid actual spoilers, but I think it also helps to set the mood for the scenario.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

rknop wrote:
...and while he looks through those portfolios, the Mission Impossible theme plays.

My next rogue totally has be named Rollie Fingers....

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5

GM Lamplighter wrote:

Well, the V-C probably assumes that every Pathfinder has a certain baseline of skills.

While a lot of Venture Captains arguably ARE that incompetent hopefully most of them realize that ACTUAL pathfinders are very, very often fairly specialized characters and at least TRY to match skill sets with the mission.


I'm trying to remember the last time I ran a table for players who weren't already basically familiar with a scenario - must be refreshing!

That said, no, I really don't advise players outside of a blurb: PFS characters have enough options and ability-buy points that there's simply no reason not to have a degree of versatility. I'd be more worried about the team as a whole (say, three enchanters, or some other redundancy) than a particular character's suitability for a scenario.

If players ask, I'll certainly tell them if a scenario has something for their particular faction, so they get a crack at whatever faction boon is there and can enjoy the relevance of their faction during the scenario.

But if someone is SO specialized that they're unable to function in a given scenario, well... we all know that's a risk of specialization; it just balances the extra fun they got in another scenario which they were able to trivialize!

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Also, I've decided once in a while to play a character who isn't really suited for the adventure. Sent my paladin through Geb instead of my dhampyr cleric of Charon. On the other hand, sent the cleric to deal with a pallid plague in Andoran, where the paladin would have been much more powerful.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

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So, I've got a hippy Tiefling Mindchemist.

He's all into drugs and new experiences and new age mind crystals and other stuff like that. Always looking for new ways to expand him and his party member's minds so as to escape the tyranny of the man.

Some how this character ended up playing both Fortress of the Nail and Fate of the Fiend.

He was hilariously bad at interactions with the Hellknights, frequently needing to go sneak off and cleanse his mind after all the bad vibes from the overly orderly Hellknights.

Sometimes its fun to see characters out of their element.

5/5

I'll second that, Rob.

My fetchling, who I play as someone who doesn't understand the material plane (being from Shadow Absalom), has been sent to weddings, funerals, and banquets. He's basically like a Blue Man, doesn't understand metaphors or figures of speech, and takes everything literally. Great fun to play (not just for me but the other players and GM, if you can believe what they say). Probably not representative of a Venture-Captain selecting him specifically for a given mission.


Our group uses a Facebook page to organize games a week in advance. When we know what games are being offered we post the blurb from the scenario page up and say what tiers it is. From that players can decide on what character to play with ease and you don't get the mismatched parties.


I'd definitely warn players about the scenario's theme and say what kinda skill-set would be useful. Gives them an opportunity to change up or make something different from their usual characters.
Kinda like a GM warning players that Bonekeep is more lethal than most scenarios they've played before.
Players should get a chance to know what might be needed of their characters and it'll be their responsibility to bring something appropriate to the game. Once decisions are made and game starts...well sometimes the only way to learn is the hard way.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Of course I'll warn people based on what the Venture-Captain would know about the mission ("You're going to sneak into the Chelish embassy. Are you sure you want to play your full-plate fighter?"). I'll also let players know if there's something that might ruin their fun because of the class they're bringing, like if someone is bringing a Paladin into a mission that requires lying, or if someone wants to bring their cavalier into a dungeon crawl full of 5-foot tunnels.

And I'm glad I read the blurb so I knew to bring my inquisitor of Norgorber into The Merchant's Wake and Scars of the Third Crusade. Hangings and funerals are such great fun with him around!


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I say let them fail, and let them not be 100% successful with every mission.

That will encourage well-rounded pathfinders, and not one-note murder hobos. If you want to improve character creation for the society as a whole, we need to beat up the one dimensional builds once in a while.

That full plate fighter could EASILY afford a chain shirt and an elixir of hiding.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:

I say let them fail, and let them not be 100% successful with every mission.

That will encourage well-rounded pathfinders, and not one-note murder hobos. If you want to improve character creation for the society as a whole, we need to beat up the one dimensional builds once in a while.

That full plate fighter could EASILY afford a chain shirt and an elixir of hiding.

True, but there's a big difference between "This scenario will challenge your character and force him outside his comfort zone," and "This scenario will give your character no chance to use his strengths, and he will be constantly fighting against his weaknesses."

4/5 Venture-Agent, Maryland—Hagerstown aka Z...D...

As a player you should be smart enough to make your own choice on what you bring when the GM gives you the scenario. If my character didnt quite match up to the scenario, I would either take a different character or even use a pregen(shudder). I have been in a group of stealthy characters and have the one fighter in heavy armor completely mess up our plan and almost get us TPKd in the process.

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

I generally don't worry about party composition, but will give players a general idea of how well I think a party will work. I've seen some unusual parties do just fine despite my misgivings.


I rarely give out anything like that, but occasionally when the scenario is really one sided I will say a little something.

"Not to give anything away, but it has been speculated that this scenario was written to make the poor little unappreciated rogue feel better about his career choice."

"Pay particular attention to the blurb. You should be able to tell that social situations will occur."

Things like that. I'm currently in a particularly non-combat scenario as a PbP. I think the player of the barbarian is bored out of his mind. he can help with the perception checks and that's about it. At least so far. I'm hoping he's not one of the types that will start a fight just so he can 'contribute' to the scenario.

I've have also been at a few lopsided tables that were a problem. One was almost exclusively social and stealth skill checks. At our table, 5 out of 6 PC's were charisma dumped heavy armored martials. It went about as well as you might expect.

5/5

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

To me the advert for the scenario should be accessible to the players. This includes knowledge of what factions are "on deck" for a particular scenario.

In regards to party composition, try GMing a party for Library of the Lion where one PC had 14 int, everyone else had 8-9 int and cha. Good times.


After the illiterate halfling barbarian with a dinosaur tried to play in Library of the Lion, I always let people know what's generally expected. Roleplaying, investigative, combat-focused, dungeon crawling, etc.

Lantern Lodge 5/5

Related question:

Do you allow players to change PCs during the VO briefing?

For example, one of my players had two options for a particular scenario, but when the briefing started to sound like a "hired hit" mission, he decided bringing a Paladin wasn't appropriate and changed to a Magus.

I couldn't see an issue with it and allowed it. Good call/bad call?

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

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I usually respond to questions of 'why am I being sent on this mission' with 'because you are the agent we have available. If you know of an alternate better suited to this mission, you have five minutes to fetch him'.

I'm not sure it is supported in the guide however.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

pauljathome wrote:
GM Lamplighter wrote:

Well, the V-C probably assumes that every Pathfinder has a certain baseline of skills.

While a lot of Venture Captains arguably ARE that incompetent hopefully most of them realize that ACTUAL pathfinders are very, very often fairly specialized characters and at least TRY to match skill sets with the mission.

Just because the players choose to make campaign-inappropriate characters doesn't make the Venture-Captains incompetent. It may appear to be so sometimes because of the nature of organized play and the penchant for a lot of players to ignore some of what the campaign is about in an effort to build whatever kind of character they want.

That being said, I do not fully support what GM Lamplighter is saying, because there are simply some classes where it would be very difficult to have all the "baseline" of skills due to having only 2 skill points per level. And to be viable at their chosen profession, they can't spend more than 5 points on Intelligence or Charisma (and likely not both.) And in many cases those skills are not class skills for that class.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:

I usually respond to questions of 'why am I being sent on this mission' with 'because you are the agent we have available. If you know of an alternate better suited to this mission, you have five minutes to fetch him'.

I'm not sure it is supported in the guide however.

Yeah, I always kinda looked at the Pathfinder Society as having a few agents available at any given time to any lodge. And often its six pathfinders that happen to be there when the VC has a mission he needs to assign.

I really don't see it as the VC having 79 pathfinders to choose from and then for some dumb reason choosing the 6 most disfunctional as a team.

The reality of organized play makes this seem different. But just because we have a player base of 60,000 or more with many characters per player, doesn't mean that there are 240,000 to 480,000 pathfinders hanging out at every lodge waiting for an assignment.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Starfinder Superscriber
Andrew Christian wrote:
I really don't see it as the VC having 79 pathfinders to choose from and then for some dumb reason choosing the 6 most disfunctional as a team.

It turns out that Drandle Dreng does that just for amusement. It is so fun to watch those Pathfinders tripping all over each other and making a mess out of everything....


Andrew Christian wrote:


That being said, I do not fully support what GM Lamplighter is saying, because there are simply some classes where it would be very difficult to have all the "baseline" of skills due to having only 2 skill points per level. And to be viable at their chosen profession, they can't spend more than 5 points on Intelligence or Charisma (and likely not both.) And in many cases those skills are not class skills for that class.

Aside from the very LOWEST levels, I disagree. It's relatively easy to diversify a character. If you're an archer, for example, just take power attack. It's one feat.

And with it, if you're ever forced into melee, you've got a decent strength, a decent BAB, you'll do ok. Not perfect, but good enough.

As for skills, this is an argument to NOT dump your intelligence into the garbage can. Is standing there doing nothing for half the adventure worth two more points of damage? I certainly don't think so.

But most importantly, skills can be purchased. If you're terrible at climbing, get a potion of spider climb. If you're a bad liar, buy a potion of glibness.

And you can open class skills up with traits. We don't ALL need +2 on initiative.

5/5

This. Being prepared for the job can be based on the agent's skill, or their equipment. And really, the main class with 2 skill points is the fighter, since most others will have some Int skill bonuses. And that's why they invented the Lore Warden.

For myself, making a PC with weaknesses (to provide better strengths in other areas), and then pulling him out of the line when he actually has to face those weakness, feels like gaming the system. All of my PCs will accept every mission a V-C throws at them, except perhaps the one I play as a total coward.

5/5

Andrew Christian wrote:


Just because the players choose to make campaign-inappropriate characters doesn't make the Venture-Captains incompetent. It may appear to be so sometimes because of the nature of organized play and the penchant for a lot of players to ignore some of what the campaign is about in an effort to build whatever kind of character they want.

That being said, I do not fully support what GM Lamplighter is saying, because there are simply some classes where it would be very difficult to have all the "baseline" of skills due to having only 2 skill points per level. And to be viable at their chosen profession, they can't spend more than 5 points on Intelligence or Charisma (and likely not both.) And in many cases those skills are not class skills for that class.

I like how you assume everything comes down to player construction. Look, some scenarios aren't appropraite for all builds. This is an artifact of organized play, and limited options, as well as run as written. These aren't necissarily bad (I am a big fan of run as written.)

And my point would then be that I don't like the concept of large chucks of potential builds are *campaign inapporiate*.

5/5

GM Lamplighter wrote:

And really, the main class with 2 skill points is the fighter, since most others will have some Int skill bonuses. And that's why they invented the Lore Warden.

So Clerics, Paladins and Sorcerers dont exist in your world?


GM Lamplighter wrote:

This. Being prepared for the job can be based on the agent's skill, or their equipment. And really, the main class with 2 skill points is the fighter, since most others will have some Int skill bonuses. And that's why they invented the Lore Warden.

For myself, making a PC with weaknesses (to provide better strengths in other areas), and then pulling him out of the line when he actually has to face those weakness, feels like gaming the system. All of my PCs will accept every mission a V-C throws at them, except perhaps the one I play as a total coward.

I agree to a certain extent. But within reason. The VC would have to be really stupid (or really desperate) to put together a few of the tables I've seen. There is no way everyone can be good at everything.

A while back when I was still pretty new to PFS, I sat at a table that was a tad lopsided. I had a sorcerer, but it was the first PFS character I had made and he was honestly pretty bad. I had a pretty decent charisma. The only social skills I had was single rank in bluff and 3 in linguistics to learn the elemental languages. I had no ranks in stealth, disguise, diplomacy, knowledge, sense motive.

Every other PC at the table wore medium/heavy armor, had dumped charisma (2 had dumped intelligence). One guy had a single rank in stealth. Most of them had decent perception. They all were willing to leave their armor behind (with much grumbling).

We were doing a certain scenario (no spoilers, but you can probably guess) where the party has to infiltrate a noble social event, find evidence, and get out with no one knowing. With a 1 rank in bluff, 3 in linguistics, 1 in stealth, and high perceptions. I was at the bottom level for the scenario and the rest were high tier. The only reason we were even able to get within shouting distance of succeeding is because a couple of them had not spent all their money and were willing to blow a lot of it on bribes, scrolls, and potions. Everyone had used their folio/shirt rerolls in the first hour.

Even with that, I’m pretty sure the GM took pity on us because we were trying so hard and let us succeed. There were several times a diplomacy roll was so bad the other guy should have gone hostile. One of the guys had negative totals on stealth and bluff repeatedly. A couple times he let good lies succeed even though the rolls were abysmal. I could be wrong since I haven’t read it, but I doubt the DC’s are set that low.

Now in this instance. The GM did tell us that our specific group would have a hard time with the scenario. But they decided to give it a try anyway for the challenge. If I GM that scenario, I would probably do about the same. But I might be a little more pointed about it since I won’t ‘let’ them succeed.

4/5

hello all just got into this conversation but i look at it as people dump stats just like in R.L. some people have extraordinary intelligence with the wisdom of a frog, others the quick reflexes of a cat and the strength of a mouse. Put money, fame, favors, or other compensation in front of them they are willing to try anything. The same goes for pathfinder agents the Halfling barbarian looking to find a way to free slaves is willing to go on a mission where stealth is vital where he may not be. thank you for reading my opinion and everyone have a happy holiday season (by the way i enjoy a game where i have very little strength and a whole lot of weakness such as a 4 stat dump for 2 super stats, gives the game an edge)

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