Home Games vs. PFS


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I know a good amount of people who do the PFS thing. Most of those people I spoke of, if not all, don't exactly choose PFS. For them, it's because either a. they couldn't get in a home group, b. their home group doesn't meet as often as they'd like, or c. they want to meet new people to invite to their home groups and/or be invited to theirs

I have heard rumors, however, of people who like PFS for it's own merits, and this boggles my mind. I have played a of PFS games, even more than I have actually recorded on my profile (meh, I forgot to send in my stuff a couple times) and my experience was less than thrilling. I don't understand why, if given the opportunity to play a home game instead people would choose PFS.

Between arbitrary decisions of what is and isn't allowed that varies season-by-season (Tieflings, anyone?), the absolute constraint to use premade modules defined per season, and the inability to develop a true rapport with your teammates and GM, it just falls short for me on many levels.

To me, PFS is the methadone of a real Pathfinder group's heroin. It's not quite what you want, but if you're truly desperate, and can't get the real thing, it'll get you through the week.
It's the life support of RPGs. It's not really living, but it's not really death, either. It's the persistent vegetative state of tabletop.

Not to say I'm not glad for it's availability; there have been those times where I just haven't gamed in a long time, and I needed my fix, and PFS was there...but I just don't get voluntarily defaulting to it in the face of another option.


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I really enjoy playing in person, but since there are not a lot of reliable gamers where I live I just use roll20 now. As for PFS I can play it since I don't really care about the rules they disallow. I just would not like to GM for it. It restricts me a lot more than I would like to be restricted, and I am not going to be that guy who just ignores the PFS rules because he does not like them.


PFS is not too big around here, there are maybe 10 players, so whenever I go its basically always the same people. Also the venture-captain who does most of the GMing is very good.

Its not necessarily as fun as gaming with my home group of friends but its pretty fun, and there is less messing around off topic since there are time constraints.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Remember, it's an actual campaign. Are there PC options you don't allow in your campaign? I know there's plenty I don't allow in mine. How are your restrictions any less "arbitrary" than those in PFS? PFS allows material from literally over a hundred books. Do you?

Aside from that, PFS has some pretty unique merits. One is portability. Can players from your campaign bring their characters around the world and play them with different people? If one of your players moves to a different city and finds a new group, can he bring the character he's spent the last year and a half getting invested in? If one of your players travels somewhere (work, vacation, convention, whatever) and finds a group of like-minded players, can a game suddenly happen?

Another thing I personally like is the wealth system. I hate how wealth is a built-in part of character power progression, I hate the impact it has on PC decisions ("It's an adamantine door? Take it and sell it!"), and I hate all the table time spent on dividing loot. In PFS, you don't have to worry about that: you can play without thought of your budget, then get handed some gold at the end and do your shopping away from the table ("off-screen"). PFS lets me tell/experience stories that aren't about looting! For me, that's huge.

There's also the social aspect: I get to play with a lot more different people in PFS than in a home campaign, all without sacrificing my PC's story. If I play in home campaigns, the PCs in each group will never meet. In PFS, both the player and the character can meet a wide variety of other people, which can be enriching all on its own. Additionally, the annual multi-table special event is super fun, getting to work with dozens and dozens of other players in an exciting event. When was the last time one of your home sessions could be described as an "event"? There's also the phenomenon that gamers who constantly have to get along with a wide variety of people and gamers who spend decades holed up with a select group of like-minded gamers will, to put it gently, not develop at the same rate. I find that elitism and what I call "one true way-ism" are more prevalent among long-time home-gamers than among folks who primarily play PFS with large playerbases. But that's a bigger topic, that would probably need its own thread.

The fact of the matter is that PFS is a campaign with its own pros and cons; there I things I get in non-PFS games that I can't get in PFS, but there are also things I get in PFS games that I can't get elsewhere.


I'm entirely with you here. I GM much more than I play, and running PFS would feel like suffocating with their level of restrictions. As a player, I'd also dislike it because I know every bit of loot would come from the approved lists and my character advancement is predictable to the point I can plan it form level 1 - I like my character to develop in ways I didn't expect as the GM offers me major choices that affect them, which just won't happen in PFS.


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thegreenteagamer wrote:


I have heard rumors, however, of people who like PFS for it's own merits, and this boggles my mind. I have played a of PFS games, even more than I have actually recorded on my profile (meh, I forgot to send in my stuff a couple times) and my experience was less than thrilling. I don't understand why, if given the opportunity to play a home game instead people would choose PFS.

I play PF for home games and I play PFS games too, particularly at conventions. While there are times the experience isn't so good, getting out and playing with completely different groups of people can be fun. You get to meet people over a hobby you both enjoy and you get exposed to different character ideas that you may not get in your smaller pool of local players.

You can do all of that with one-shot adventures and pregen characters too, but with PFS, you get to develop your own character and that's a pretty big draw, particularly when dealing with a game as complex as PF. Having a few minutes to suss out a new pregen before the action starts can be difficult.


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I suspect that PFS, however well-meaning, is a major factor in the "cult of RAW" becoming so prevalent. There have always been rules lawyers, but outside of PFS a table could cheerfully say "screw the rules" for the sake of a better experience for individual players. PFS's table is too large to tailor for an individual group, so it loses out on one of the primary strengths of tabletop roleplaying.

Still a lot of fun if you can accept the house rules, though.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Why do I PFS instead of home game?

"James is sick, so we're canceling this week."
"Work is getting crazy, so we're canceling until after the New Year."
"Brian can't play anymore, so we're bringing in [person you hate] to fill the slot."
"[Person you hate] is going to play [character that's exactly like yours] because he that's what he wants to play."

That last one happened to a letter in one of the last home games I played, backstory included.

Would I like to play in a home game at some point? Sure. I'd love to be able to play with things that are not PFS legal that I've had my eye on for literally years (Words of Power). Top contenders for that home game? Some guys I met through PFS that want to run Kingmaker outside of PFS.


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Thejeff more or less adequately responded to your questions, Jiggy, but there's one in particular I felt I should address...

Jiggy wrote:
How are your restrictions any less "arbitrary" than those in PFS?

Well, I don't change them for no apparent reason based on the season, for one thing. Let's take my example of the tiefling, and their holier cousins, the aasimar.

What, exactly, was broken about them before Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends came out, to where they were forbidden?

Whatever it was, did those two books "fix" it to make them more balanced? If ANYTHING, it made them considerably more powerful, yet they were added as acceptable races.

Change of the season, however, and suddenly they're broken again, and not allowed, despite nothing in particular coming out making them more powerful.


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I can agree with a lot of what Jiggy said. I will add a bit more.

For me one of the primary purposes of gaming is social. I am a bit of an introvert. If I didn't have F2F gaming it could easily become much worse. I mostly don't mind sitting at home reading a book, watching some TV, and playing on the computer. But it isn't really healthy for mind or body.
F2F RPG's are a way to force myself out into the world. Home group does that some. PFS does that even more. It gets me out talking to and interacting with complete strangers.

Every so often someone in the home group changes job schedule or moves. About half of the new additions to our group have been people I play PFS with. Someone that I have realized over the last several months that I get along with how they behave and play the game. So I invite them to the home game.

PFS lets me experience how others play the game. Quite a few of my ideas for PC's, NPC's, tactics, and situations have come from things I saw while at PFS. (Also some things I clearly want to avoid.) For example: At a con I saw three guys that had invested in a few teamwork feats, absolutely kicking the crap out of some of the difficult scenarios. Now my home group is willing to give them a bit more serious consideration.

Also PFS is more casual and relaxing. As a PFS GM I don't have to modify a bunch of things to specifically fit the particular PC's. I prep what is written and that is it. Takes much less of my limited personal hobby time.
As a player, I have some half dozen PC's at various levels ready. I show up at an open table and we go. Very little work involved. they are generally less difficult so I don't usually get all that worked up over if I'm going to die or at least fail the mission. And even if I do, it doesn't bother me as much as it does at the home game.
There I have been working with the same PC for over a year toward a long term goal. That bothers me (probably more than it should sometimes) when I fail.

Also the portability aspect that Jiggy mentioned is one of the really best things about it. I'm stuck on a business trip in Detroit for a week, guess what I have something to do in the evenings.


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I do feel like PFS has taught me quite a lot about gaming.

1) i'm exposed to a huge variety of characters and styles, far more than i would ever see with my one gaming group of five people.

2) i've had to learn to be versatile as a player, to figure out my new role in the group, which changes every four hours.


thegreenteagamer wrote:

Thejeff more or less adequately responded to your questions, Jiggy, but there's one in particular I felt I should address...

Jiggy wrote:
How are your restrictions any less "arbitrary" than those in PFS?

Well, I don't change them for no apparent reason based on the season, for one thing. Let's take my example of the tiefling, and their holier cousins, the aasimar.

What, exactly, was broken about them before Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends came out, to where they were forbidden?

Whatever it was, did those two books "fix" it to make them more balanced? If ANYTHING, it made them considerably more powerful, yet they were added as acceptable races.

Change of the season, however, and suddenly they're broken again, and not allowed, despite nothing in particular coming out making them more powerful.

As I understand it, it didn't have anything to do with broken or fixed. (I hate those descriptions by the way.)

At the start PFS didn't allow everything because they were still trying to see how it all worked out. Now they have started allowing some more.
But they didn't just want to allow everything.
So while the main topic was the world wound, they allowed the teifling and aasimar.

That is closing as the main topic so they are switching the options to other races like the nagaji and kitsue.
It has been rumored that in a few years those will go away and they will allow the elemental or lycan subraces.

They are just making changes to keep things 'new' without the bloat of everything. Probably not exactly the way I would have done it, but I don't particularly have a problem with it either.

Shadow Lodge

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A home game is not better than PFS.

PFS is not better than a home game.

They are simply different modes of play of the same game.

Some prefer one, some prefer the other and some, believe it or not, actually like both for their own merits.

PFS prevents the lows of a home game (scheduling, wonky house rules, capricious GMs, etc) but in turn limits the upper boundaries (player-centric games, campaign-altering decisions, flexibility).

Asserting a home game is better than PFS is like saying independent coffee shops are better than Starbucks. I've had both great and horrible cups of coffee at whatever indie shop I've stumbled across, but I get consistently decent-to-good cup of at any Starbucks across the country. If you're lucky, you have a great indie coffee shop nearby that's nearby and convenient to you. If you're unlucky, the indie coffee shop is the only one around and it serves a meh cup of joe and has crappy pastries.


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thegreenteagamer wrote:

Thejeff more or less adequately responded to your questions, Jiggy, but there's one in particular I felt I should address...

Jiggy wrote:
How are your restrictions any less "arbitrary" than those in PFS?

Well, I don't change them for no apparent reason based on the season, for one thing. Let's take my example of the tiefling, and their holier cousins, the aasimar.

What, exactly, was broken about them before Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends came out, to where they were forbidden?

Whatever it was, did those two books "fix" it to make them more balanced? If ANYTHING, it made them considerably more powerful, yet they were added as acceptable races.

Change of the season, however, and suddenly they're broken again, and not allowed, despite nothing in particular coming out making them more powerful.

At no point has anyone actually involved in making decisions about what is or isn't banned in PFS said that Tieflings or Aasimar are banned for being "broken". They were removed as an option for storytelling reasons. I'm sure plenty of home games have things banned for storytelling reasons.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Maps Subscriber

I prefer PFS because the rules are predictable. I've been hit more than once in the past by a GM that let's me build a PC and start playing it, then pull some unexpected house-rule out in the middle of a scene. That gets old.

If I follow the Guide and Additional Resources and read the forums a bit, I know my PC will be legal and behave the way I expect.

Portability is another plus.

The negative people discuss about continuity and rapport can be worked around. The regular players I sit with most of the time are a group of around 20 or so in two stores. There is a lot of overlap between the stores and many of the PCs know each other and have established relationships.


thegreenteagamer wrote:
I know a good amount of people who do the PFS thing. Most of those people I spoke of, if not all, don't exactly choose PFS. For them, it's because either a. they couldn't get in a home group, b. their home group doesn't meet as often as they'd like, or c. they want to meet new people to invite to their home groups and/or be invited to theirs

A) I have two home groups

B) Our Homes group meets once a week, sometimes twice for one of them.
C) This is a true statement but I'm happy with our group.

thegreenteagamer wrote:
I have heard rumors, however, of people who like PFS for it's own merits, and this boggles my mind. I have played a of PFS games, even more than I have actually recorded on my profile (meh, I forgot to send in my stuff a couple times) and my experience was less than thrilling. I don't understand why, if given the opportunity to play a home game instead people would choose PFS.

My problem with PFS is that the 1-2 tier and 3-4 tiers are snooze fests. Every other tier is interesting and challenging for characters who are within the realm of real builds. Killing Krune is no less memorable than killing Karazog. Decimating bonekeep was awesome! Temple of enlightenment was a great social adventure. I can go on. The problem with PFS is the problem every single anthology series ever had, multiple writers. You'd have segments which are so memorable and iconic they endure forever and others which were so forgettable or bad you hate them or forgot them by next week.

thegreenteagamer wrote:
Between arbitrary decisions of what is and isn't allowed that varies season-by-season (Tieflings, anyone?), the absolute constraint to use premade modules defined per season, and the inability to develop a true rapport with your teammates and GM, it just falls short for me on many levels.

1) It's not arbitrary it had to do with season 5 being the end of the demon season.

2) Premade modules can be great.
3) Play PFS at the same place with similar people each week. We have 6 locations around here and most of the time we get a similar crowd at each location but if people can't make it one week or want a new guy they can make it.

thegreenteagamer wrote:

To me, PFS is the methadone of a real Pathfinder group's heroin. It's not quite what you want, but if you're truly desperate, and can't get the real thing, it'll get you through the week.

It's the life support of RPGs. It's not really living, but it's not really death, either. It's the persistent vegetative state of tabletop.

I'm guessing you've not played much high level PFS. It's much more balanced than most high level home games unless the GM is extremely good.

thegreenteagamer wrote:
Not to say I'm not glad for it's availability; there have been those times where I just haven't gamed in a long time, and I needed my fix, and PFS was there...but I just don't get voluntarily defaulting to it in the face of another option.

Heck our effective home game is a PFS emerald spire. So I just disagree.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thegreenteagamer wrote:

Thejeff more or less adequately responded to your questions, Jiggy, but there's one in particular I felt I should address...

Jiggy wrote:
How are your restrictions any less "arbitrary" than those in PFS?

Well, I don't change them for no apparent reason based on the season, for one thing. Let's take my example of the tiefling, and their holier cousins, the aasimar.

What, exactly, was broken about them before Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends came out, to where they were forbidden?

Whatever it was, did those two books "fix" it to make them more balanced? If ANYTHING, it made them considerably more powerful, yet they were added as acceptable races.

Change of the season, however, and suddenly they're broken again, and not allowed, despite nothing in particular coming out making them more powerful.

Tieflings and Aasimars were the only Native Outsiders allowed for PCs without a boon. You can still use a boon to get Tieflings and Aasimars.

From a rules perspective, a FAQ was released related to early entry into prestige classes that made a SIGNIFICANT change to the way that characters could progress. Being able to make a 3rd level Eldritch Knight or 4th level Mystic Theurge is pretty significant and the racial spells allowed that.

Grand Lodge

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thegreenteagamer wrote:

I know a good amount of people who do the PFS thing. Most of those people I spoke of, if not all, don't exactly choose PFS. For them, it's because either a. they couldn't get in a home group, b. their home group doesn't meet as often as they'd like, or c. they want to meet new people to invite to their home groups and/or be invited to theirs

I have heard rumors, however, of people who like PFS for it's own merits, and this boggles my mind. I have played a of PFS games, even more than I have actually recorded on my profile (meh, I forgot to send in my stuff a couple times) and my experience was less than thrilling. I don't understand why, if given the opportunity to play a home game instead people would choose PFS.

Between arbitrary decisions of what is and isn't allowed that varies season-by-season (Tieflings, anyone?), the absolute constraint to use premade modules defined per season, and the inability to develop a true rapport with your teammates and GM, it just falls short for me on many levels.

To me, PFS is the methadone of a real Pathfinder group's heroin. It's not quite what you want, but if you're truly desperate, and can't get the real thing, it'll get you through the week.
It's the life support of RPGs. It's not really living, but it's not really death, either. It's the persistent vegetative state of tabletop.

Not to say I'm not glad for it's availability; there have been those times where I just haven't gamed in a long time, and I needed my fix, and PFS was there...but I just don't get voluntarily defaulting to it in the face of another option.

All I can say is that you don't play PFS with the people I do. I pretty much get everything out of the PFS experience that I used to get out of home games. And for those of us who have families, lives, jobs, and special demands, PFS is a lot easier to work into our lives. As for arbitrariness, home games by definition are where arbitrariness rules, only imposed locally instead of top down.

I've seen a fair number of folks who were regular PFS teammates, even to the point of traveling to conventions as a team. For them they were as cohesive as many a home game, and I've seen a lot of home game teams that only wished that they were as cohesive as some PFS groups I've run.

In short, PFS is what you make of it. You don't want to play PFS. That's fine jim dandy. But try to keep in mind that your experiences are not necessarily universal.


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LazarX wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:

I know a good amount of people who do the PFS thing. Most of those people I spoke of, if not all, don't exactly choose PFS. For them, it's because either a. they couldn't get in a home group, b. their home group doesn't meet as often as they'd like, or c. they want to meet new people to invite to their home groups and/or be invited to theirs

I have heard rumors, however, of people who like PFS for it's own merits, and this boggles my mind. I have played a of PFS games, even more than I have actually recorded on my profile (meh, I forgot to send in my stuff a couple times) and my experience was less than thrilling. I don't understand why, if given the opportunity to play a home game instead people would choose PFS.

Between arbitrary decisions of what is and isn't allowed that varies season-by-season (Tieflings, anyone?), the absolute constraint to use premade modules defined per season, and the inability to develop a true rapport with your teammates and GM, it just falls short for me on many levels.

To me, PFS is the methadone of a real Pathfinder group's heroin. It's not quite what you want, but if you're truly desperate, and can't get the real thing, it'll get you through the week.
It's the life support of RPGs. It's not really living, but it's not really death, either. It's the persistent vegetative state of tabletop.

Not to say I'm not glad for it's availability; there have been those times where I just haven't gamed in a long time, and I needed my fix, and PFS was there...but I just don't get voluntarily defaulting to it in the face of another option.

All I can say is that you don't play PFS with the people I do. I pretty much get everything out of the PFS experience that I used to get out of home games. And for those of us who have families, lives, jobs, and special demands, PFS is a lot easier to work into our lives. As for arbitrariness, home games by definition are where arbitrariness rules, only imposed locally instead of top down....

Maybe you're not looking for the same things in games that I am, or you just weren't actually getting them in home games.

Plots that revolve around your characters. Decisions that actually drive where the campaign goes.

That's the big thing for me. I guess there's less difference if you were playing modules or a railroaded AP in your home game.
And obviously, not all home games are good. :(


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I greatly prefer home campaigns. I greatly prefer other game systems.

PFS allows me to get in a game when I have time even when my friends don't. That can be a huge advantage. The other advantage is meeting new people who also enjoy RPGs.


thejeff wrote:
LazarX wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:
..
.

Maybe you're not looking for the same things in games that I am, or you just weren't actually getting them in home games.

Plots that revolve around your characters. Decisions that actually drive where the campaign goes.

That's the big thing for me. I guess there's less difference if you were playing modules or a railroaded AP in your home game.
And obviously, not all home games are good. :(

Oh, so much this. If the plot would be the same no matter what character (able to handle the encounters) was involved and what choices they made - or worse still plots last for a level or less - I just couldn't enjoy the game. Plot is so important for me.

Grand Lodge

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I play both in a couple home campaigns, and I also play PFS. I enjoy both for different reasons.

In home games there is a bit more consistancy in the overall story and, as some have pointed out more potential for the player to feel like they are having an impact on the game world. I get to hang out with long time friends and as a GM I certainly have more creative control.

When I first got into PFS it was primarily because I just wasn't getting the opportunity to play enough in home games and I kinda looked at it as a "tide me over" type thing, but that has changed over time. I still prefer my home games to PFS but I'm really glad I joined. For one thing playing with a wide variety of other players and GMs has really opened my eyes to different ways of doing things.

Our group was pretty insular, probably about 10 people in total spread out into 3 campaigns, and we had always played with one another since first edition AD&D. Through PFS I found that there were mistakes that we had been making from 3.5 onward. Nothing big, or really that game changing, but a few little things that no one questioned or really read through the rules for. More importantly though, there were things that we just didn't focus on that much in our home games that I began to see as elements of great game play.

Now as I said, one of the great strengths of a home game is that the players feel that they have more impact on the game world, but that is tempered by the fact that the story is that of the entire party. When I look at the PFS career of one of my characters, it is their own story I am creating, complete with re-occuring co-workers (other PCs), favorite and least favorite bosses, villains who you were sure you killed, but who reappear in later chapters (I'm looking at you Spider). Sure you can plan your advancement and purchases right from level 1 all the way through the game, I know in some home campaigns you can do this too (not in mine) But you can let your character grow organicly too. Choose skills not because they are optimal but in reaction to what your character has done or has had to attempt, purchase something cool that happens to appear on one of your chronicle sheet because it's something your character would want to keep rather than something they would buy at the store. The point I guess, is that I look at my PFS games as the story of my character, a specialist within an organisation. I look at home games as the story of a group of characters.

And speaking of stores... I don't know how many sessions of a home game have been ruined for me because other players wanted to waste it in haggling for better prices, looking for a hundred different pieces of gear, so on and so forth. I love that in PFS there is never more than a few moments where people might buy something based on the briefing from the Venture Captain. i can do all my purchases in between sessions plus a couple seconds at the table if need be. I realize that this is a personal pet peeve but it's one I feel strongly about and I'm in disagreement with a couple people I play home games with so I find it relevant.

Anyways what it comes down to is that home games and PFS fill different needs for me. I may have a slight preference for my home games, but I still love PFS for what it is... and I just realized that I haven't even mentioned that I have met some great people from playing PFS too!


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

I've played PFS exactly three times (all with pregens) and really had a lousy time each time. And in the third game, I decided to walk away from the table after two hours.

It wasn't so much the PFS system, it was the PFS players/GMs that I've played with that really soured me on organized play. I just did not have any fun playing with them. If those are the kinds of gamers who go to PFS (at least in my area), then I'll stick with home games.

I've been playing in / running home games exclusively ever since.

Paizo Glitterati Robot

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Removed some posts. This level of sarcasm is really not particularly helpful and only serves to bait to escalate the conversation. Also, let's not start breaking out popcorn posts, please. In the future, it's probably not a good idea to start a thread conflating gaming preferences with addictive narcotics.


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Haladir wrote:

I've played PFS exactly three times (all with pregens) and really had a lousy time each time. And in the third game, I decided to walk away from the table after two hours.

It wasn't so much the PFS system, it was the PFS players/GMs that I've played with that really soured me on organized play. I just did not have any fun playing with them. If those are the kinds of gamers who go to PFS (at least in my area), then I'll stick with home games.

I've been playing in / running home games exclusively ever since.

I can understand that and I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad time of it. I will just say I've experienced more lousy home games than lousy PFS games. When I moved and was trying to find a new group... {{shudder}} There are some real wacko's out there.

I have met a very small number of unpleasant people in PFS (only 2), but I just don't sit at the table with them anymore. So far they have never sat at the table when I was a PFS GM. I don't think they like me either. I don't consider it a loss.

If you are willing to give it another try, you might consider a different location or PFS PbP online.

Grand Lodge

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I've had 1 or 2 "bad" tables, or tables where I just didn't have much fun so far in my PFS experience. But compared to the 60ish fun sessions I have had split between GMing and playing, I would say that hasn't been too much of a dissapointment to stop me from playing PFs.

I guess if my first 2 sessions had gone like that though I probably wouldn't have continued on either, sorry to hear about your experience Haladir.

Grand Lodge

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thejeff wrote:
LazarX wrote:
thegreenteagamer wrote:

I know a good amount of people who do the PFS thing. Most of those people I spoke of, if not all, don't exactly choose PFS. For them, it's because either a. they couldn't get in a home group, b. their home group doesn't meet as often as they'd like, or c. they want to meet new people to invite to their home groups and/or be invited to theirs

I have heard rumors, however, of people who like PFS for it's own merits, and this boggles my mind. I have played a of PFS games, even more than I have actually recorded on my profile (meh, I forgot to send in my stuff a couple times) and my experience was less than thrilling. I don't understand why, if given the opportunity to play a home game instead people would choose PFS.

Between arbitrary decisions of what is and isn't allowed that varies season-by-season (Tieflings, anyone?), the absolute constraint to use premade modules defined per season, and the inability to develop a true rapport with your teammates and GM, it just falls short for me on many levels.

To me, PFS is the methadone of a real Pathfinder group's heroin. It's not quite what you want, but if you're truly desperate, and can't get the real thing, it'll get you through the week.
It's the life support of RPGs. It's not really living, but it's not really death, either. It's the persistent vegetative state of tabletop.

Not to say I'm not glad for it's availability; there have been those times where I just haven't gamed in a long time, and I needed my fix, and PFS was there...but I just don't get voluntarily defaulting to it in the face of another option.

All I can say is that you don't play PFS with the people I do. I pretty much get everything out of the PFS experience that I used to get out of home games. And for those of us who have families, lives, jobs, and special demands, PFS is a lot easier to work into our lives. As for arbitrariness, home games by definition are where arbitrariness rules, only imposed
...

I never said that network play could replicate home play. Some things get left out of the necessary compromises that need to be made. For that matter I do BOTH home play and PFS right now, and I can do so because I have the convenience of living with the GM, who's a 5 star PFS GM as well.

That said, there are positive things about PFS, the ability to move your characters freely from table to table and getting to meet other gamers at game days and conventions. There's value in building communities like that.

PFS is not a crippled substitute for home gaming. It's it's own experience, and it has things I don't want to give up too.

Grand Lodge

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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Between arbitrary decisions of what is and isn't allowed that varies season-by-season (Tieflings, anyone?), the absolute constraint to use premade modules defined per season, and the inability to develop a true rapport with your teammates and GM, it just falls short for me on many levels.

Everything you have said here is something I have encountered in home games. So I don't understand your dichotomy.

If you were boggled by people staying in bad games when good games were available, I would understand. But you are ascribing blanket statements to organized play when those statements apply to individual tables, not the entirety of organized play or the entirety of home games.

This idea is as faulty as if I were to talk about how home games are all rules-ignoring Magical Tea Parties without the firm guidance of a Glorious Campaign Overlord and players are at the mercy of tyrannical GMs who abuse their authority without concern for their players fun.

Shadow Lodge

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thegreenteagamer wrote:
Change of the season, however, and suddenly they're broken again, and not allowed, despite nothing in particular coming out making them more powerful.

Options are not always banned because they are broken.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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thegreenteagamer wrote:

Thejeff more or less adequately responded to your questions, Jiggy, but there's one in particular I felt I should address...

Jiggy wrote:
How are your restrictions any less "arbitrary" than those in PFS?

Well, I don't change them for no apparent reason based on the season, for one thing. Let's take my example of the tiefling, and their holier cousins, the aasimar.

What, exactly, was broken about them before Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends came out, to where they were forbidden?

Whatever it was, did those two books "fix" it to make them more balanced? If ANYTHING, it made them considerably more powerful, yet they were added as acceptable races.

Change of the season, however, and suddenly they're broken again, and not allowed, despite nothing in particular coming out making them more powerful.

Okay, so you saw something change, made assumptions about the reason behind it, disliked your own assumptions, and therefore decided to label the change "arbitrary". Yeah, that makes sense.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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thejeff wrote:

Maybe you're not looking for the same things in games that I am, or you just weren't actually getting them in home games.

Plots that revolve around your characters. Decisions that actually drive where the campaign goes.

That's the big thing for me.

Actually, PC actions DO "actually drive where the campaign goes" in PFS. Right on down to the life or death of major NPCs.


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Jiggy wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Maybe you're not looking for the same things in games that I am, or you just weren't actually getting them in home games.

Plots that revolve around your characters. Decisions that actually drive where the campaign goes.

That's the big thing for me.

Actually, PC actions DO "actually drive where the campaign goes" in PFS. Right on down to the life or death of major NPCs.

How?

On some kind of weird, abstract scale, right? Or just that the scenario is written to do that?

If I do one thing in a scenario and someone else does something entirely different, we can still play together in the next game and we'll be playing the same scenario. If I killed the NPC and he saved him, he can't be simultaneously alive and dead when we play together.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Maybe you're not looking for the same things in games that I am, or you just weren't actually getting them in home games.

Plots that revolve around your characters. Decisions that actually drive where the campaign goes.

That's the big thing for me.

Actually, PC actions DO "actually drive where the campaign goes" in PFS. Right on down to the life or death of major NPCs.

How?

On some kind of weird, abstract scale, right? Or just that the scenario is written to do that?

If I do one thing in a scenario and someone else does something entirely different, we can still play together in the next game and we'll be playing the same scenario. If I killed the NPC and he saved him, he can't be simultaneously alive and dead when we play together.

GMs report session conditions when they enter who played scenarios on the PFS site. The most common option chosen is what is selected by the campaign. On the tracker sheet you fill out at the beginning, the GM section includes checkboxes labeled A, B, C, and D for this purpose.


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Serisan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
thejeff wrote:

Maybe you're not looking for the same things in games that I am, or you just weren't actually getting them in home games.

Plots that revolve around your characters. Decisions that actually drive where the campaign goes.

That's the big thing for me.

Actually, PC actions DO "actually drive where the campaign goes" in PFS. Right on down to the life or death of major NPCs.

How?

On some kind of weird, abstract scale, right? Or just that the scenario is written to do that?

If I do one thing in a scenario and someone else does something entirely different, we can still play together in the next game and we'll be playing the same scenario. If I killed the NPC and he saved him, he can't be simultaneously alive and dead when we play together.

GMs report session conditions when they enter who played scenarios on the PFS site. The most common option chosen is what is selected by the campaign. On the tracker sheet you fill out at the beginning, the GM section includes checkboxes labeled A, B, C, and D for this purpose.

As I thought. "In some kind of weird, abstract scale".

My character can still watch the NPC die and meet him later.


thejeff wrote:
My character can still watch the NPC die and meet him later.

I know, death is so permanent in Golarion, isn't it? :)


Each approach has its own unique appeal. PFS has the living Golarion feel to it and it is convienient to be able to drop into a game anywhere, anytime with your character.

Conversely, I prefer to run and play in homebrew campaigns because they can be crafted for long term stories involving the PCs in a way that PFS scenarios never can.

Right now, I'm running Crypt of the Everflame for a new campaign and I've added some small side scenarios that plant seeds for the long running campaign. If the PCs fail to continue with the game, it will never come into play again, but if they continue to play and let our homebrew grow, they will see the ramifications of the side scenario play out further down the road and will hopefully appreciate how it all comes together for a grand fantasy adventure.


Do they PFS at bars?

Because that would go a long way toward bridging the gap with home games, as far as concerns me.

Shadow Lodge

Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
Do they PFS at bars?

I don't understand the question.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Do they PFS at bars?

Because that would go a long way toward bridging the gap with home games, as far as concerns me.

Yes.

You can PFS anywhere. In fact, there's a GenCon tradition of doing PFS at Scotty's Brewhouse, and the place even puts Golarion stuff on the menu (like fried goblin ears instead of fried pickles, etc).

But yeah, you can PFS anywhere you like.

Grand Lodge

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I hear tell someone ran a PFS scenario on a road trip, in the car.

And perhaps one day, TrainCon will be a thing.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
And perhaps one day, TrainCon will be a thing.

Hopefully, on a bullet train!


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:

Do they PFS at bars?

Because that would go a long way toward bridging the gap with home games, as far as concerns me.

Actually, I'm pretty sure there is a PFS event held weekly at a tavern in the Detroit area.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
Do they PFS at bars?
I don't understand the question.

I think the implication is that Mr. Evil Lincoln likes a little beer with his RPG... and I'm firmly in that camp!

Grand Lodge

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Ah, TOZ does not understand the attractiveness of beer, unless it is of the root kind.

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