New DM Questions


GM Discussion


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I am getting ready to DM PFS IRL for the first time and I have a few questions. The main one that I can think of right now, is there some sort of check list on everything I should have on hand? I mean both the musts and things that are not strictly required, but are a good idea.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

Not really, but if you look through some of the threads in this section of the boards, you can probably find older threads on this same subject with advice lists and helpful discussions, covering things like the benefits of colored highlighters, index cards, minis (or a substitute), soem sort of wheeled carrier (save the back!), etc.

Grand Lodge

Things You Absolutely Must Have:
Core Rulebook
Guide to Pathfinder Society Play
Chronicle Sheets (printed)
Players (minimum 3, maximum 7)

Things It's Hard to Go Without:
The Scenario (printed or digital, printed is better)
Reporting Sheet
Dice
Writing utensils and scrap paper
Maps (flipmat(s) and marker(s) or digital/projector set up)
Minis of some kind
Scenario handouts (printed)

Things It's Nice to Have:
Additional Resources, all
Dice, lots
Minis, lots
Maps, lots
Players (minimum 4, maximum 6)
Initiative Board
GM Screen
Access to the internet (PRD, SRD, etc.)
Snacks, ample supply
Beer, ample supply
Coffee, ample supply
Table
Chairs
Pregen sheets (printed for new players)
Character sheets (printed, blank)
Inventory Tracking sheets (printed, blank)
General quietude
An ungodly number of other accessories (AoE spread mappers, condition markers, see-through minis for invisible creatures, elevators for flying creatures, etc. etc. etc.)

I'm sure I'm forgetting something really obvious but this might help start you off.

Sovereign Court

May Contain Meerkats wrote:


I'm sure I'm forgetting something really obvious but this might help start you off.

Patience and a sense of humor come to mind.

Dark Archive

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GM Prep Checklist (from the GM shared prep site):

Getting started
1. Print out scenario text pages, and put in a lightweight binder.
2. Highlight all skill checks in scenario text (I just put circles around all skill DCs)
3. Highlight all faction mission notes in scenario text (I highlight all faction names in pink)
4. Highlight in a different color all notable scenario text, plus reference information such as terrain, ceiling height, light level.
5. Check if there is anything in the Google Docs GM shared prep area that you can use
6. Review the GM thread on the Paizo boards for any gotchas or guidance
7. Using Combat Manager/PRD/PFSRD - Save and print out all stat blocks that are not fully listed in the scenario

Encounters
1. Lookup all monster special abilities and traits. Make notes and print out any large text blocks you need.
2. Highlight all key features of creatures and make notes for things you may miss. For example note power attack bonuses next to attacks, and flag other combat manoeuvres such as step up or lunge. Note defensive abilities and items prominently next to defensive stats, such as DR, SR, ring of Force Shield, ring of Counterspells.
3. Review tactics and work out what you will do and what you need to know for round one.
4. Note any items they have that affects combat.
5. Lookup all feats you aren’t sure of.
6. Lookup all abilities/spells you aren’t sure of and make notes. Noting in short: range, radius, effect, non-std casting time
7. Note any build errors you find and work out what you will do about them. For example an NPC has a feat he doesn’t qualify for or the tactics mention a spell that can’t be used. (Assume if you don’t find any build errors that you missed them. It is nigh impossible to create multiple NPC characters without making mistakes, especially higher level ones.)
8. Note any environment conditions that affect the encounter: obstacles, terrain, lighting, ceiling height, etc.
9. Once you have reviewed the above and know the constraints you are working under then work out what leeway you have to make the encounter more intelligent, fun, harder, softer.
10. If any elements are new to you or it looks too weak or too deadly then do a dummy run of round one of combat to look for issues or options.
11. Think about any PC abilities or PC types that might sideline an encounter, eg. Sleep Hex.

Story and RP
1. Read entire scenario to identify story elements, any potential holes, any stall points or any story thread weaving required. Note any elements that need to be brought out or hinted at.
2. Identify every NPC and give them a basic personality, typically by aligning them to someone you know either from real life or fiction. Though it may be bad form to base it on someone actually sitting at the table ;-)
3. Read every faction mission and work out where and how to surface it in the scenario and any potential issues with it.
4. Try and spot any assumptions that might break the story if they don’t come true and how to work around them. For example does any outcome depend on encounters being resolved the traditional way rather than via enchantment spells or social skills.

Admin
1. Print 3 copies of faction missions and any handouts, cut out and file
2. Print out 6 chronicle sheets per session planned plus one for GM credit.
3. Print out reporting/tracking sheet if required.
4. Create event/scenario on Paizo or get event number from coordinator
5. Create and print out sign-up sheet where required for that particular convention
6. Pre-fill chronicle sheets with event name, event ID and GM ID to save table time
7. Print out images from the scenario for scene setting (using print screen and Paint.Net).
8. Complete any enemy spellbook spell lists and print off as handouts
9. If it is to be run in a short slot, prepare a handout of mission goals and key NPC names.
10. Identify any flip mats or alternative maps you can use (and any you want to buy)
11. Print or pre-draw any complex maps or key parts of maps
12. Identify the minis required and find them. Find proxies or print paper tokens for any you don’t have.
13. Charge up your tablet/phone (take your charger to the con)
14. Copy anything you need to your tablet/phone

Beyond the scenario (extra mile)
1. Read the wiki for all locations and people listed in the module
2. Print/upload to tablet any scene setting images from the wiki/blog
3. Identify any scenery or props you could use to add some depth and fun. Particularly where it is necessary to identify who is carrying a particular item. For example an important key, scroll, wayfinder or other scenario maguffin.
4. Print and fill out initiative cards for all creatures (location, subtier, number, name, init, AC, HP)
5. Print blank initiative cards for PCs (fields: name, level, classes, HP, AC, Perception, specials)
6. Contribute to the GM thread any errors, concerns, questions, or notable table points that came up.
7. Upload any useful stuff you created to the GM shared prep area
8. Write a review of the scenario. Do this before you run it as it forces you to think through the scenarios strengths and weaknesses. Then update after you run it. This is the primary way you can influence authors to write the kind of scenarios you want to run or play. Be constructive and use spoiler tags.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento aka FLite

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If you are drawing your own maps on one of the base flipmats, Dry erase crayons give much better visibility, do not smear as easily, and tend to come in a wider range of useful colors.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

FLite wrote:
If you are drawing your own maps on one of the base flipmats, Dry erase crayons give much better visibility, do not smear as easily, and tend to come in a wider range of useful colors.

I didn't even know those were a thing. Awesome.


Thank you everyone, this has all been very helpful.

Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Seattle aka Gwen Smith

FLite wrote:
If you are drawing your own maps on one of the base flipmats, Dry erase crayons give much better visibility, do not smear as easily, and tend to come in a wider range of useful colors.

You can also combine wet and dry erase on the same surface.

Write any long-term or reusable content in wet erase.
Let it dry.
Write any short-term or one-off content in dry erase.
Wipe off the dry erase, and the wet erase stays.

This is an old math teachers' trick: draw your axis lines in wet erase, and then do your graphs in dry erase. Wipe the graphed line, and your axis line stay behind.

In this case, use wet erase for any common outlines (like outside lines of a multi-story building). Then use dry erase for specifics inside those lines (like furniture or room dividers on different floors) or long term area effect spells (like Entangle). Wipe the dry erase and start from the empty wet erase lines.

Liberty's Edge 3/5

Dorothy wrote:
This is an old math teachers' trick: draw your axis lines in wet erase, and then do your graphs in dry erase. Wipe the graphed line, and your axis line stay behind.

... That's brilliant. Stealing the idea.


How does the star system work, especially if you only DM IRL?

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

Once you've GMed a certain number of games (and have reported them online), you get "GM stars". Mostly, this is for bragging rights, although the "bragging rights" are a bit more than that, as they're an indication that you've invested in the PFS game to a certain level, so some people might pay more attention to what you say than otherwise. (Don't count on it; this is the Internet, after all.)

There are some other small mechanical benefits. If you use a shirt or folio reroll, on your reroll you can add a bonus equal to your number of GM stars. (STUPID me completely forgot I was wearing an appropriate shirt when my wizard was Feebleminded, and I didn't use the reroll on the save... oh well. Never forget what shirt you have on!) There are also the GM Star Reward Chronicle Sheets, which give you minor boons based on the number of GM stars you have.

The PFS Guide to Organized Play tells you how many games you need to GM in order to get a star. If memory serves, your first star comes after 10 scenarios GMed. (Note that if you GM a module, you get two "tables of credit" towards a star, instead of just one. Most modules takes more than two sessions to complete, however! Honestly, I'm not sure how the newer multi-sheet modules work with this; if you GM Dragon's Demand, you can get 8xp (2xp times 4 chronicle sheets, all of which are experience-granting sheets, if I'm not mistaken) for a single character, but I don't know if you get 1, 2, 4, or 8 tables of credit for reporting. I should know in a couple of weeks....)


Thank you.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

rknop wrote:

Once you've GMed a certain number of games (and have reported them online), you get "GM stars". Mostly, this is for bragging rights, although the "bragging rights" are a bit more than that, as they're an indication that you've invested in the PFS game to a certain level, so some people might pay more attention to what you say than otherwise. (Don't count on it; this is the Internet, after all.)

There are some other small mechanical benefits. If you use a shirt or folio reroll, on your reroll you can add a bonus equal to your number of GM stars. (STUPID me completely forgot I was wearing an appropriate shirt when my wizard was Feebleminded, and I didn't use the reroll on the save... oh well. Never forget what shirt you have on!) There are also the GM Star Reward Chronicle Sheets, which give you minor boons based on the number of GM stars you have.

The PFS Guide to Organized Play tells you how many games you need to GM in order to get a star. If memory serves, your first star comes after 10 scenarios GMed. (Note that if you GM a module, you get two "tables of credit" towards a star, instead of just one. Most modules takes more than two sessions to complete, however! Honestly, I'm not sure how the newer multi-sheet modules work with this; if you GM Dragon's Demand, you can get 8xp (2xp times 4 chronicle sheets, all of which are experience-granting sheets, if I'm not mistaken) for a single character, but I don't know if you get 1, 2, 4, or 8 tables of credit for reporting. I should know in a couple of weeks....)

6 tables, actually.

You report only three of the chronicles for Dragon's Demand, the bonus chronicle doesn't get reported.

Along with the bonuses mentioned by rknop, when you reach 4 stars, you also get access to run the season's Exclusive scenario.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Starfinder Superscriber

Interesting... I believe that the bonus chronicle sheet for Dragon's Demand does give prestige and experience (unlike other module bonus chronicle sheets), so I would have expected it to be reportable.

(The reason I believe it gives prestige and experience is twofold. First, it gives gold, which is not true of pure "bonus" chronicle sheets. Second, I saw a post from John Compton somewhere that implied that it did (by giving totals for a character that used all four); I would have to dig to find that again.)

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Nevada—Las Vegas aka kinevon

rknop wrote:

Interesting... I believe that the bonus chronicle sheet for Dragon's Demand does give prestige and experience (unlike other module bonus chronicle sheets), so I would have expected it to be reportable.

(The reason I believe it gives prestige and experience is twofold. First, it gives gold, which is not true of pure "bonus" chronicle sheets. Second, I saw a post from John Compton somewhere that implied that it did (by giving totals for a character that used all four); I would have to dig to find that again.)

It does give gold, XP and PP. It is not linked to any specific part of Dragon's Demand, just to playing or GMing it in campaign mode, and giving all four chronicles to the same PC.

Quote:
Players who play through the entire module (not just the sanctioned portions) using the alternate play option detailed above and apply all three Chronicle sheets to the same Pathfinder Society character earn a fourth Chronicle sheet that must also be applied to that character.

That specific chronicle is also a little odd, as it can only be applied at 2nd, 4th, or 6th level, with level-appropriate gold. The other three chronicles are standard 3 level module chronicle sheets, with gold given as appropriate for the middle level of the tier.

Then again, I still have questions about a couple of items available in one of the sanctioned sections that work fine in campaign mode, but leave me scratching my head in PFS mode.

Spoiler:
A scroll of Permanent that can be bought, and a set of spellbooks. Fortunately, the spellbooks will usually sell well outside the PFS PC's price range, but there is a possibility of winning the auction for them at only 4,000 gp, for a set of spellbooks covering up to 6th level spells, including:
Quote:

However, the room’s grand prize is in the locked chest to the right of the desk. Inside are Hunclay’s six spellbooks. This collection of spellbooks contains all cantrips and a number of higher level spells—25 1st-level, 22 2nd-level, 17 3rd-level, 13 4th-level, and 11 5th-level spells.

Fill these spellbooks out as you wish, but the book containing Hunclay’s 3rd-level spells includes, among other spells, a copy of secret page.
The fifth book contains a rare new spell in addition to the others: wall of light (see the New Spell sidebar). Taken as a whole, the spellbooks are worth 19,800 gp.

Yeah, how is this supposed to be handled, if the third section is played PFS style?

This is also the same chronicle with the item that raised a debate, since it is not, normally, a legal magic item...


If a char is created online, do I need a physical sheet to use him for GM credit?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Nohwear wrote:
If a char is created online, do I need a physical sheet to use him for GM credit?

There's no official sheet for a character, so it can be online, on papyrus, or in crayon. It just has to stay the same. (cough, not that i would ever loose a character sheet or 12.. cough..)

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