Is hero lab allowed?


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The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Agent, Kentucky—Lexington

Uwotm8 wrote:
James Risner wrote:
I don't care how good you are with the rules, you can't make a paper character without mistakes.
You most absolutely can. This is a ridiculous assertion.

I commend you. You are one out of thousands of player I've played in almost 150 played games of PFS, 140 GM'd games of PFS, 12 years of player vs player tournament competitions at GenCon/DragonCon.

I've never seen someone play a paper character that is complex without having issues. You are top 1 percent in skill for sure.

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Agent, Kentucky—Lexington

Uwotm8 wrote:
By the way some people here seem to talk, I wonder how they played before it came around.

I used to spend countless hours building spreadsheets. I haven't played on paper since the 80's. I hate paper characters. No docs, nothing you can double check quickly. It leads to errors playing on paper.


As a player I use Herolab and I bring it to the table on a small laptop. I know what I'm doing rules wise but I am not dragging a dozen books (many of them hardcover) around town with me. Herolab lets me keep things light and easy. Not to mention that the problem with the D20 system is that after a while it becomes a pain in the backside to keep track of all those modifiers and conditions. I own all the books I use but I'm not dragging them about with me.

As a GM, if a new player turned up to one my PFS games with Herolab I'm going be more than happy to let them use it. Using books they don't have, I'd be fine with that as these things are expensive. I'd let them play but I would say that they need to start slowly buying the books they have purchased add on packs for. Even if it is just one book a month. PFS is about both getting sales for Paizo but also to promote the game. I'm not going to turn away a potential new player simply because they can't afford to buy a load of books at once. I see no problem providing they can show that they are making an effort to buy those books.

5/5

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Eryx - doing so violates the rules of PFS. There is no reason a player needs to use all of the options, and not owning the books means the PC is not legal. It is not an individual GM's call as to whether the rules are good or not.

It may seem fine to handle it this way to you, but the next GM that player sits down with may actually follow the rules, and you've now set the player up for disappointment.


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hmmm..herolab for me has been a godsend.. I am a retired combat vet with TBI and other various bad wireings..
And I have used RPGs that I played in my youth, as a therapy aid for resocialization and mental health recovery, But..the depth and extent of all the conflicting and options and such can be a bit much to track, and it would be very easy to miss something ..and have to start over again.
And as someone with not alot of patience for frivolous things (hobbies unfortunatly fall in that category now for me.)..the less hassle the easier to maintain enthusiasm and therefore participation.

I do endeavor to look stuff up when questions occur and extend my knowledge...but not everyone is a teen with a sponge brain anymore..some of us old soldiers kinda need our "crutches" as some have so indelicately described...but PFS games are obviously not were we may be welcomed..but no matter, I have a nice geekchic table..and buddies to sit around it..and A VTT on roll20 as well.

Godbless Herolab..it gave me back my rollplaying games as a viable hobby again.

SFC (ret) Dan L.


GM Lamplighter - It has never happened so far and I doubt it ever will. If it ever happened, I would rather drive interest in Pathfinder and PFS than turn players away who may then go and spend their cash elsewhere on someone else's products.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber

Perhaps a request out to hero lab itself is in order, to add a disclaimer when you activate "PFS" on the character configuration screen to present a disclaimer that "You are responsible for ownership of the actual books you choose to reference for your character." and an easier way to audit the books actually referenced.


Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Uwotm8 wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I don't know those things for characters I build by hand either.
That's your fault.
While true, this is also a vacuous statement. What was the intent of your reply?

What was the intent of yours? What's the intent of many of your posts?

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Uwotm8 wrote:
What's the intent of many of your posts?

My own amusement of course.


Let's go with that, then. :)

Shadow Lodge 5/5

Fair enough, mate.

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

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Gauss wrote:

Gwen Smith, you seem to have missed my point, repeatedly.

I never said the issue was with Hero Lab. I have always maintained that the issue is with people who use it as a crutch and who make statements such as "But Hero Lab said....".

Let me be absolutely clear.
1) Hero Lab is fine as a tool.

2) People are more than welcome to use Hero Lab as a tool in my games. I have players that do so.

3) Contrary to certain people's beliefs (not all people) Hero Lab is not a rules source.

4) Hero Lab is not infallible.

5) Hero Lab is not a substitute for knowing the rules. Unfortunately some people treat it as one.

Gwen, please read my posts in context as you have clearly taken them out of context and treated what I wrote as an attack on Hero Lab when it is clearly not the case.
My problem is with people who use Hero Lab as a substitute for the rules and then do not understand that they are violating the rules.
I also have a problem with people who think that Hero Lab is infallible when it can produce errors (usually user error but sometimes not).

Clearly, I am not the only one that has seen this sort of behavior from certain Hero Lab users.

I wasn't assuming your post was an attack on Hero Lab so much as I was trying to point out that all of the issues in your post (and a lot of other posts--yours was just nice and concise!) are general issues with the player base and not issues with Hero Lab per se. We need to address the underlying issues rather than fuss about where we see the symptoms appear.

You say you've seen this behavior from Hero Labs users. I'm saying I see this behavior from all kinds of players, regardless of what tool they are using.

The only honest-to-Desna problem intrinsic to Hero Lab itself is "It contains all the rule text in it, so players think they don't need the books." Some other specific Hero Lab problems are "Players don't know how to use Hero Lab and it slows the game down while they look for stuff" and "Players don't always know the specific development choices and/or bugs in Hero Lab", but no one is really complaining about those.

All the rest of the issues seem like some form of "Players don't know/don't follow the rules."

5/5

Eryx_UK wrote:
GM Lamplighter - It has never happened so far and I doubt it ever will. If it ever happened, I would rather drive interest in Pathfinder and PFS than turn players away who may then go and spend their cash elsewhere on someone else's products.

While I understand your point, it frankly doesn't matter what you or I would rather do. The campaign rules state that players must own the Additional resources they use. Hero Labs doesn't count.

You don't have to be the PDF police, of course, and I cut new players some slack as well. But, you have no idea when one of your players will go to a convention, and it really sucks when you fly across the country and are told you can't play your own PC at PaizoCon, because your home GM didn't bother to teach you the rules properly.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Dorothy Lindman wrote:
I wasn't assuming your post was an attack on Hero Lab so much as I was trying to point out that all of the issues in your post (and a lot of other posts--yours was just nice and concise!) are general issues with the player base and not issues with Hero Lab per se. We need to address the underlying issues rather than fuss about where we see the symptoms appear.

Most people that don't know the right way to land don't know how to to jump 10 feet in the air. Hero lab gives people the gaming equivalent of one without the other.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nefreet wrote:

I openly admit to being incredibly hostile towards HeroLab. I do not allow it at my tables in PFS. Hearing "I don't know, that's what HeroLab says" is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

That said, few ppl in my area see any reason to use HeroLab, since you effectively have to pay double for any material you use for your characters.

HeroLab is a crutch that contributes to rules atrophy. I've seen new and experienced players fall victim to it. If you feel some unholy need to use it, don't go beyond using it as a character sheet generator.

Other than that, it's really best to be avoided for Society play.

I'm glad for your admission, because it's clear that your hostility has led to hyperbole.

1. You're not paying "double". If you were, the herolab datapackages would be a hell of a lot more expensive than they are now, given what you pay for them compared for the actual prices of the books they cover.

2. Herolab actually takes a good deal of the headache of tracking daily and expendable resources which can really pile up on some characters.

3. I've seen far more mistakes on handwritten sheets than on Herolab, by your logic I should be banning those first.

That said, I've never mandated that anyone should or must use it, it is however, the most complete choice out there with the free PCGen being a somewhat close second.


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GM Lamplighter wrote:
Eryx_UK wrote:
GM Lamplighter - It has never happened so far and I doubt it ever will. If it ever happened, I would rather drive interest in Pathfinder and PFS than turn players away who may then go and spend their cash elsewhere on someone else's products.

While I understand your point, it frankly doesn't matter what you or I would rather do. The campaign rules state that players must own the Additional resources they use. Hero Labs doesn't count.

You don't have to be the PDF police, of course, and I cut new players some slack as well. But, you have no idea when one of your players will go to a convention, and it really sucks when you fly across the country and are told you can't play your own PC at PaizoCon, because your home GM didn't bother to teach you the rules properly.

It seems that a reasonable compromise would be to allow the new people to play, but to emphasize that the rules require you to own the Additional Resources and that other GMs are likely to check.


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Ashtathlon wrote:

God bless Herolab..it gave me back my roll playing games as a viable hobby again.

SFC (ret) Dan L.

And God bless you for your service.

-- david
(Army 1LT - 9/1970-9/1972)

Grand Lodge 5/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Gauss wrote:

Note: in my groups (home groups, I don't play PFS anymore) the entire group decides on the character sheet to be used so that everyone is using the same sheet. I have players using Hero Lab but they have to transfer the information to the sheet the group is using.

Side thread, or thread derail, but might I ask why as a group you agree to some character sheet standard? Even as a GM that isn't a fight I'd want to have with my players, as a player I couldn't imagine caring what character sheet everyone was using.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

Just because the Core Rulebook is part of the core assumption does in no way mean you don't have to own the core rulebook.

Scarab Sages

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Jeremy Coppersmith wrote:
Ok so looking at 60-70 for PDFs that I need or $200 up for books......yeah going pdfs

Money aside, carting around 50lbs of hardcopy books is a good way to injure yourself. I bought a tablet and PDF's after dislocating my shoulder.

Scarab Sages

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Nefreet wrote:

I openly admit to being incredibly hostile towards HeroLab. I do not allow it at my tables in PFS. Hearing "I don't know, that's what HeroLab says" is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

That said, few ppl in my area see any reason to use HeroLab, since you effectively have to pay double for any material you use for your characters.

HeroLab is a crutch that contributes to rules atrophy. I've seen new and experienced players fall victim to it. If you feel some unholy need to use it, don't go beyond using it as a character sheet generator.

Other than that, it's really best to be avoided for Society play.

Fortunately, Society rules don't allow GM's to dictate the character sheet used by players.

You may not like the program, but you have no basis for baring players using Herolab as their character sheet.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Okay, this blew up over night.

Lots of comments to respond to, so my apologies if I do not reply to yours in particular (any I'm getting ready for work at the moment, so I probably won't be able to respond to many either way).

1st, if you show up at my table using HeroLab, you're getting audited and book-checked. In my experience thus far, that means I've turned away 100% of characters relying on HeroLab. I am completely within my right as a GM to do this.

2nd, having a HeroLab character sheet, printed out and in front of you, is fine. I believe I even mentioned that in an earlier comment. Using the software at the table, and not so much as having a single piece of paper in front of you, is what I take issue with.

3rd, Rules Atrophy. This is a serious repercussion of using HeroLab. I did not begin my stint in PFS with such utter contempt for it. It was earned over time. I've watched it convert once knowledgeable rules gurus into rules idiots. I can think of two people off the top of my head that were fantastic with the rules pre-HeroLab, and who now have forgotten how their characters even work.

I met with the creator of HeroLab at DundraCon last year and told him this. I told him I was becoming his biggest antagonist on the forums, even. When people at the table I was sitting at chastised me, I relented. And what happened? Within the very next encounter we had a heated rules debate that stemmed from using HeroLab.

Removing HeroLab removes an ever-growing thorn from my side, and the sides of other GMs who've had rules debates that interrupted their games.

4th, loss of rules knowledge isn't my only beef. Someone else up thread mentioned several other good ones. Barriers to play and too many technological distractions at the table aren't specifically directed at HeroLab, but if you get rid of one you help get rid of the others.

5th, HeroLab costs money that is not going to Paizo. I'm not sure if it's a regional occurrence, but I've encountered my fair share of players who don't have money for both HeroLab and Paizo. The temptation to purchase HeroLab over Paizo, and play it off as though you owned the material, is a real thing. I've encountered it.

6th, HeroLab has been the cause of too many distractions and interruptions at my tables for me to want to deal with it anymore. If something goes wrong at the table, IME it was caused by HeroLab. Call it confirmation bias if you wish, but if some math error is happening at the table, it's going to be a HeroLab error more so than a player error.

As anecdotal evidence, I just watched a game Saturday night where the Fighter tried to perform a Bull Rush maneuver, and his CMB seemed really low. After pouring through HeroLab he found a "miscellaneous penalty" of -4. Not knowing where it was coming from, he just went with it. After failing a second Bull Rush, we realized he was still Power Attacking, and his BAB was +12.

That wouldn't have come into consideration had HeroLab not been used, and I was quick to point it out.

7th, many of the posters in this thread have claimed they'd go to the VO and complain about my ruling, or take it up with Campaign Leadership, and that using HeroLab is completely legal in PFS.

I will tell you now, your efforts would be in vain.

HeroLab is NOT supported by PFS. It is not referenced in the Guide to Organized Play or the Additional Resources. Nowhere (to my knowledge) has Campaign Leadership ever endorsed its use. HeroLab is no more legal for use in PFS than any other 3rd party material. Until that fact changes, I am completely in my right as a PFS GM to refuse HeroLab at my tables.

8th, I'm a pen-and-paper gamer. I create every character on a CRS that I custom myself. THIS is the most common character sheet I use, which is modified off of the CRB sheet with larger boxes, less weapon spaces, and no equipment section (since the ITS fulfills that need, now). The ITS is modified with more lines and has spaces for consumables.

But, as I've already stated, I have no problem with someone printing out a HeroLab character sheet and filling it out themselves. I recognize that not everyone has the skill or desire to come up with their own sheets. I'm fine with characters written out on graph paper, even. It's the use of HeroLab at the table that I disdain, and so long as it's within my power to stop, I will do so.

Lastly, I'm aware my position is extreme. I'm aware many people have succumbed to using HeroLab and thusly feel the need to defend it. I'm okay being the villain here. 98% of the time I'm laid back and easy going, open to creative solutions at the table, love roleplaying more than rollplaying, and go out of my way to make my games a fun experience.

HeroLab represents 1% of the time that I absolutely put my foot down.

*runs out the door as he's very close to being late to work*

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

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Gauss wrote:

I do object to people not knowing the rules because they didn't properly look them up when building a character with Hero Lab.

However, that is not an issue with Hero Lab, that is an issue with the player improperly using it as a crutch and a source.

Here's the problem I have with this. I find the concept that; "If you remove the system mastery crutches from players who do not put a high level of importance on system mastery they will respond by increasing their system mastery," to be a fallacy. In my experience, trying to force people to increase their system mastery simply gets them to leave PFS.

System mastery requires effort. When the level of effort a player puts into PFS exceeds the fun they get out of it, they stop playing. Each player has a different level of effort at which that point is reached.

In my local area, I would say over half the players do not put a high level of importance into system mastery. I have seen the following 'crutches' used:

1) Hero Lab
2) Only ever play pregens
3) Have another person create/level their character either in whole or in part
4) Use builds off of various optimization forums
5) Only play Core characters

Out of the above, I would say #3 is the most common. Regardless, however, if I were to remove Hero Lab from this list, the only result that would come from this is the players who use that crutch would either stop playing or simply switch to another crutch. Few, if any, would try to strive to increase their system mastery.

Now I am sure it could be said that if these people aren't willing to increase their system mastery, then good riddance, but at least in my case, my local player base is not so huge it could survive loosing all of its casual players. So if I have to put up with some 'lazy' players so that the more dedicated ones get to play, then so be it.

Of course, even my generosity along these lines has its limits. I can think of at least two players I lost because, after months of cajoling them to download the free Pathfinder Society Guide to Organized Play and read it, I finally put my foot down and insisted.

Of course, there are ways of getting some people to increase their system mastery, but all of these involve increasing their desire to gain system mastery (usually by showing them how much more fun they can have by having that mastery), but none of those involve a 'requirement' to increase system mastery.

Grand Lodge

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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Wow, this thread has been entertaining. If nothing else, it makes me glad that I decided not to partake of PFS because who wants to play for some random GM that goes full derp.

I use Hero Lab and I've found it to be as accurate, or more, than the hand-drawn, P&P character sheets I used until I adopted HL in 2010. It lets me create an NPC in a fraction of the time I used to spend on P&P and every minute I'm not using to wrangle +1's is a minute I can devote to something cool for my group. Time is the most important thing to be. I've got a career, kids, family, house, etc. and so forth, so "system mastery" is something I haven't bothered with for 10 years or more. I know the rules I need to know to run my game the way I want to run it (and the way my players enjoy) and that's what's important to me.

On the subject of character sheet/statblock errors... look at the errata threads for Bestiaries and Codices. There are statblock errors in virtually every product that includes statblocks. Picking out a single tool from the litany of options available for generating characters/statblock and beating it up is a waste time.All the various methods available to players and GMs are ultimately flawed in one sense or another.

-Skeld

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Nefreet wrote:
1st, if you show up at my table using HeroLab, you're getting audited and book-checked. In my experience thus far, that means I've turned away 100% of characters relying on HeroLab. I am completely within my right as a GM to do this.

Bring it, ya nancy!

5/5

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CWheezy wrote:
Gauss wrote:

I accept that people use Hero Lab but unfortunately people use it as a crutch. "But Hero Lab says..." is a constant refrain. Hero Lab is not the book and should not replace the book.

I find that system mastery is increased if you actually build the characters yourself. Frankly, I see fewer errors in any character I have ever produced than those any player brings to the table using Hero Lab.

Of course, those players would probably have a greater number of errors if they had NOT used Hero Lab but they have an unreasonable expectation that their characters are 100% accurate.

Edit: Just to clarify, I don't dislike Hero Lab, I dislike how some people use it as a crutch rather than learning the rules.

The rules are bonkers and unclear in a ton of spots.

There are zero people on the planet who know all of pathfinder's rules, so saying "learn the rules" is nonsense

I understand that this is a little late, but it's highlighted my main objection with herolab.

Yes, the rules are 'bonkers' and unclear in a lot of spots. Spots where there might be two or more possible interpretations. Spots where it's up to the GM to make a call.

Using HeroLab, the call HAS been made, and the user does not even know that the point was in contention.


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Nefreet wrote:

Okay, this blew up over night.

Lots of comments to respond to, so my apologies if I do not reply to yours in particular (any I'm getting ready for work at the moment, so I probably won't be able to respond to many either way).

1st, if you show up at my table using HeroLab, you're getting audited and book-checked. In my experience thus far, that means I've turned away 100% of characters relying on HeroLab. I am completely within my right as a GM to do this.

7th, many of the posters in this thread have claimed they'd go to the VO and complain about my ruling, or take it up with Campaign Leadership, and that using HeroLab is completely legal in PFS.

I will tell you now, your efforts would be in vain.

HeroLab is NOT supported by PFS. It is not referenced in the Guide to Organized Play or the Additional Resources. Nowhere (to my knowledge) has Campaign Leadership ever endorsed its use. HeroLab is no more legal for use in PFS than any other 3rd party material. Until that fact changes, I am completely in my right as a PFS GM to refuse HeroLab at my tables.

No, you're not. Any more than you can refuse people for any other completely arbitrary reason.

Herolab doesn't count for additional resources, so they still need any books their character relies on, but other than that it's completely not relevant. Any more than you can turn a player away because he's chewing gum or using a pen instead of a pencil. Or because you don't like the color of her dice.

I'm not even sure you can require a physical character sheet, as long as the player is willing to let you audit whatever electronic version he has.

Of course, you can harass people into not using HL or into leaving by doing thorough audits and checks on only those using it, which will of course feed your confirmation bias.


It should be pointed out that there is a very strong, even if entirely subconscious, sense of entitlement to use a product you pay money for. There should be an accompanied recognition that entitlement alone (deserved or not) does not give you special rights or even particular agency to use it.

@trollbill, the majority of "system mastery" issues disappear just by reading the CRB. You don't even need to read it all. Getting Started, your class' entry, skills, equipment, magic (if you cast), and combat will carry you the vast majority of the way at level 1. Reading just the environment rules in addition would put you what I would describe as "above" in terms of proficiency than most players. If that one thing is literally too much, then I question why you play. If it's out of sheer desire to be around others with similar interests, then why not learn the game? "I don't care about the game, just hanging out" kind of reasoning isn't conducive to a fun experience in this hobby. It just isn't.


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Mekkis wrote:
CWheezy wrote:
Gauss wrote:

I accept that people use Hero Lab but unfortunately people use it as a crutch. "But Hero Lab says..." is a constant refrain. Hero Lab is not the book and should not replace the book.

I find that system mastery is increased if you actually build the characters yourself. Frankly, I see fewer errors in any character I have ever produced than those any player brings to the table using Hero Lab.

Of course, those players would probably have a greater number of errors if they had NOT used Hero Lab but they have an unreasonable expectation that their characters are 100% accurate.

Edit: Just to clarify, I don't dislike Hero Lab, I dislike how some people use it as a crutch rather than learning the rules.

The rules are bonkers and unclear in a ton of spots.

There are zero people on the planet who know all of pathfinder's rules, so saying "learn the rules" is nonsense

I understand that this is a little late, but it's highlighted my main objection with herolab.

Yes, the rules are 'bonkers' and unclear in a lot of spots. Spots where there might be two or more possible interpretations. Spots where it's up to the GM to make a call.

Using HeroLab, the call HAS been made, and the user does not even know that the point was in contention.

The vast majority of those cases are in game interactions, not in character sheet stats. HL does not decide how the various darkness and light spells interact, for example.

Even in those cases where it does pick a side for something that shows up on the sheet, the vast majority of players would, if not using HL, read the rule one way or the other without realizing the conflict - or learn it from a previous GM who had his own take on it.
That's why such cases always show up on these boards with people on both sides convinced that their way is the obvious way it should be done - except for those who've been through the argument before.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Nefreet wrote:

I openly admit to being incredibly hostile towards HeroLab. I do not allow it at my tables in PFS. Hearing "I don't know, that's what HeroLab says" is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

That said, few ppl in my area see any reason to use HeroLab, since you effectively have to pay double for any material you use for your characters.

HeroLab is a crutch that contributes to rules atrophy. I've seen new and experienced players fall victim to it. If you feel some unholy need to use it, don't go beyond using it as a character sheet generator.

Other than that, it's really best to be avoided for Society play.

I don't know how you can justify not allowing someone use of Hero Labs like that .


Uwotm8 wrote:

It should be pointed out that there is a very strong, even if entirely subconscious, sense of entitlement to use a product you pay money for. There should be an accompanied recognition that entitlement alone (deserved or not) does not give you special rights or even particular agency to use it.

@trollbill, the majority of "system mastery" issues disappear just by reading the CRB. You don't even need to read it all. Getting Started, your class' entry, skills, equipment, magic (if you cast), and combat will carry you the vast majority of the way at level 1. Reading just the environment rules in addition would put you what I would describe as "above" in terms of proficiency than most players. If that one thing is literally too much, then I question why you play. If it's out of sheer desire to be around others with similar interests, then why not learn the game? "I don't care about the game, just hanging out" kind of reasoning isn't conducive to a fun experience in this hobby. It just isn't.

Yeah, but apparently using Herolab to streamline the calculation and keep you from missing anything, actually makes you dumber and you lose even that just by using Herolab for a little while.


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It makes you wonder how much money Nefreet has cost Paizo by driving people away from PFS and Pathfinder.

5/5

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Andrew Christian wrote:
I don't know how you can justify not allowing someone use of Hero Labs like that .

He can't justify it because it is blatantly an irrational hatred. If a player turns up with a herolab character sheet or is running the character off a laptop/tablet and has the various rules sources to hand there is no basis for turning them away.

I use Herolab a lot and while there is the occasional bug it catches far more errors than it creates in my experience.


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thejeff wrote:
Yeah, but apparently using Herolab to streamline the calculation and keep you from missing anything, actually makes you dumber and you lose even that just by using Herolab for a little while.

Used just for that it doesn't. I can absolutely see that case for the person who uses it to the exclusion of their own books. These things do require refreshers from time to time.

Durngrun Stonebreaker wrote:
It makes you wonder how much money Nefreet has cost Paizo by driving people away from PFS and Pathfinder.

If things are as he says, then he's cost them nothing. They weren't buying Paizo's products anyway and were just using HeroLab.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Reading the core rule book and having a high degree of system mastery isn't quite the same thing. Even if you explain to Bobby Fisher that the little horsie one moves in an L he's gotta see a few games to get good.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

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Nefreet wrote:
thejeff wrote:
And really, Nefreet? Is that the kind of thing you can kick people out of PFS games for?

I didn't say I kick people out of PFS for using HeroLab.

I said I don't allow it at my tables.

And I'm 100% within my right as a GM to do that.

If you only brought a character built with HeroLab, I have every right to not allow that character at my table.

Actually you aren't well within you rights.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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andreww wrote:


He can't justify it because it is blatantly an irrational hatred.

Probably, but if people are trying to use hero labs as their additional resource, as seems to be pretty common, that's definitely not allowed. Its on the lawful neutral? side of rules interpretation but it works. No legal source no character


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Andrew Christian wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
thejeff wrote:
And really, Nefreet? Is that the kind of thing you can kick people out of PFS games for?

I didn't say I kick people out of PFS for using HeroLab.

I said I don't allow it at my tables.

And I'm 100% within my right as a GM to do that.

If you only brought a character built with HeroLab, I have every right to not allow that character at my table.

Actually you aren't well within you rights.

Technically, he is. "If you only brought a character built with HeroLab" implies that you lack any other resource - including the Core.

In other statements he claims that he audits every player using HeroLab and they all don't have books. If that's true he's within his rights.

Not however, just for using Herolab.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
andreww wrote:


He can't justify it because it is blatantly an irrational hatred.
Probably, but if people are trying to use hero labs as their additional resource, as seems to be pretty common, that's definitely not allowed. Its on the lawful neutral? side of rules interpretation but it works. No legal source no character

It's the kicking of people for using HL, even if they have any additional resources, where he's over the line.

Except that he apparently doesn't do that because 100% of the people using HL in his games have been missing books, if he's to be believed.

OTOH, he also says he won't allow anyone to use Herolab at his table, without qualifiers, so ...

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

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Nefreet wrote:

Okay, this blew up over night.

...

Nefreet, while I disagree with some of your points, I can sympathize with most. In particular, I can see where some people will not buy BOTH the Hero Lab license and the Pathfinder rule books because they either can't afford both, can't stomach paying twice for essentially the same thing, or are under the misinformed assumption that Hero Lab is a legal rules source.

However, I will make this comparison. Over the last couple of decades, I have notice the number of editing errors in published materials (not just Paizo, but all published materials) has increased. I believe this has to do with the increased prevalence of spell and grammar checker software. So is the solution to get rid of spell and grammar checker software and go back to the old style of proofing? No, because it will never fly. Spell and grammar checker software is just too useful, too efficient, and too pervasive to get rid of. And Hero Lab is similar. If you had your way and Hero Lab were somehow banned from PFS the result would not be everyone increasing their system mastery. The result would be a mass exodus of players from PFS and I would be one of them. I have been using electronic character tools since D&D Utilities came out for Second Edition and I am not going back now.

So rather than spin your wheels fighting a losing battle to stop the use of Hero Lab because of your listed problems (and off-putting players in the process), why don't you instead put that effort into trying to get those problems fixed?


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I broke down and bought HeroLab a little over a year ago and it really makes things a lot easier to manage - particularly at the table with a live HeroLab app going (although, on the iPad version, my iPad 2 is a bit crashy with it). Buffs and other niggling details make PF a lot easier to manage, particularly as characters get level up and get more complex.

That said, I only use materials in HeroLab that I also have in other formats and I tote my PDFs around on my iPad. If I paid money to attend a convention event (where marshaling a table is difficult and chaotic enough) and was turned away because of either the iPad or HeroLab, I'd be pretty pissed off and the event organizer and Venture Captain/Lieutenant would be alerted.

If PFS at Gen Con can get along with the PF Character Creation Station at the Lone Wolf booth, then I think pretty much any PFS GM should be able to do so as well.

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

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All of my Paizo PDFs are shared across my machines via cloud storage, so I always have access to my books when using HeroLab.

Dark Archive

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i always have my tablet with me when i gm- If a person comes with a character and doesnt have the pdf( watermarked) or the book.. i will let them log into paizo site and pull up the books they own...

if they cant provide proof ( that they own the books..or the book iteself)

then i am more than happy to provide a pre gen...

I have seen to many players with pdf's that arent watermarked... and players who dont own any books and are playing a grippli...

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

Uwotm8 wrote:
@trollbill, the majority of "system mastery" issues disappear just by reading the CRB. You don't even need to read it all. Getting Started, your class' entry, skills, equipment, magic (if you cast), and combat will carry you the vast majority of the way at level 1. Reading just the environment rules in addition would put you what I would describe as "above" in terms of proficiency than most players. If that one thing is literally too much, then I question why you play. If it's out of sheer desire to be around others with similar interests, then why not learn the game? "I don't care about the game, just hanging out" kind of reasoning isn't conducive to a fun experience in this hobby. It just isn't.

Not having enough players to make tables because I chased away all of the causal players is even less conducive to fun.

Don't get me wrong. Personally, I put a high level of importance in system mastery. And I would love it if everyone else did too. But I also know that just isn't going to happen.

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

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Andrew Christian wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
thejeff wrote:
And really, Nefreet? Is that the kind of thing you can kick people out of PFS games for?

I didn't say I kick people out of PFS for using HeroLab.

I said I don't allow it at my tables.

And I'm 100% within my right as a GM to do that.

If you only brought a character built with HeroLab, I have every right to not allow that character at my table.

Actually you aren't well within you rights.

I think you missed the original message here.

nefreet wrote:
1st, if you show up at my table using HeroLab, you're getting audited and book-checked. In my experience thus far, that means I've turned away 100% of characters relying on HeroLab. I am completely within my right as a GM to do this.

He's saying every time a player has showed up to his table running HeroLab on a laptop and not having a paper sheet, he has asked them to provide sources for their additional resource material. 100% of the time the player has been unable to, and thus Nefreet has properly refused their character a seat.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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So, let me ask:

Overall, what we want is a "clean" campaign, right? We want people to own the books they use, and bring the additional resources they need to the table. We want people to be playing legal characters, with the math correct and all the modifiers factored in.

And we want to be welcoming and fun. We don't want to put any unnecessary barriers in the way of players, and we want the game mechanics to be as simple and understandable as we can make them.

Lastly, we want this to be a "big tent" campaign. There are many different play-styles, and we want to welcome all sorts of players, from the folks who've scoured the legal resources to build a mechanically twinked-out super-monk, to the folks who just like to role-play and roll dice when they have to, but aren't interested in the math behind some of their stats.

Am I missing anything? Would anyone dispute that these are reasonable goals?

Some of these goals are in conflict if you push one or another too hard. We want people to understand how their PCs CMB is being calculated, but we don't want to kick out the casual players who don't want to learn all those rules.

Having said that, it seems to me that we can serve our campaign's goals by (a) allowing tools like HeroLab, to catch missing modifiers and calculation errors, (b) still requiring the players to own all their additional resources, and (c) inviting players to explain their twinked-out stats when appropriate.

So, when I'm running a high-tier game, I'll ask my players about their characters' game mechanics all the time. "You have an attack bonus of +18? Super cool! How did you pull that off?" "An Intimidate bonus of +25? Sounds like something my paladin could use. Could you walk me through that?" It's important to me that I ask more often than I need to, because I don't want to appear as if I'm threatening the players when I ask. This shouldn't be accusatory: "Oh yeah?! Show me!"

Almost all the time, the player will smile, and explain how he came up with a damage bonus of +30, or an armor class of 52. And I'll be listening to the explanation, checking to see that everything squares, that he's not trying to stack two different armor bonuses or something.

If the player doesn't know, I'll ask him to explain. Maybe a friend builds his characters for him. Maybe he misunderstands a rule (lots of folks import rules from other game systems they know, like 4th Edition). Maybe he is basing his build off of a messageboard post he found on the Web. Or maybe, it's HeroLab. And so we'll walk through the math as quickly as possible. It's not that I don't trust the player; it's that we need to know what happens to a PC's armor class if she gets blinded, or if she's hit with black tentacles.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Wow, okay, definitely haven't read the whole thread. Nevertheless, this personal anecdote seems relevant:

I encountered a new player wanting to get started in PFS. He had apparently heard from someone that I was reasonably good with the rules, and being a newbie himself he wanted to make sure he didn't make any mistakes, so he wanted me to help him build his character.

I thought, "Sure, why not?"

Turns out, though, what he actually wanted was to hand me a blank character sheet, then describe the kind of character he wanted to make, and have me list and describe the various options that existed, and have him choose. Then he wanted me to do the actual writing and the math and so forth.

That was way beyond what I was willing to do, but then he offered to pay me. I cautioned him that I wasn't familiar with all the options out there, but then he said that if I'd just read up on everything that would help him build a [REDACTED] from a certain list of books (I assumed it was the list of books he owned), he'd pay for each book I had to read through.

I thought, "Sure, I could use some spare cash."

So I did my homework, got paid, and started working with him on his character. He was the guy in charge, but I was doing all the math/rules/etc and telling him what was available. Eventually, we finished, and he had a brand-new character, which I reviewed with him to make sure he understood how to play it.

I thought we were done.

He was at the next PFS game day I attended, sitting at a different table. Halfway through the session, my table was taking a break, and I happened to overhear this from the newbie's table:

GM: I'm pretty sure that's not actually legal.
Player (pointing straight at me): But he said it worked, so shouldn't it be fine?

The GM looked over at me, and I was just kind of staring, dumbfounded. After a few moments, the GM then turned back to the newbie and said, "Well, no problem, we'll just look it up. What book is [REDACTED] in?"

He said he didn't know, and didn't own any books anyway. The GM tried to explain that he needed to have the books, and the newbie was appalled, saying he had already paid me for the content from the books and couldn't afford to "buy them all again".

By this time, that whole table was getting involved, and it turned into a heated discussion about how much help I should give people with their characters and how much they should trust me; some folks said that every self-made character they'd ever seen had more errors than anything I'd ever helped with, while others said the exact opposite: that characters I was involved with had more errors than others 100% of the time.

And all I wanted was to help someone make their character. :(


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Chris Mortika wrote:

So, let me ask:

Overall, what we want is a "clean" campaign, right? We want people to own the books they use, and bring the additional resources they need to the table. We want people to be playing legal characters, with the math correct and all the modifiers factored in.

And we want to be welcoming and fun. We don't want to put any unnecessary barriers in the way of players, and we want the game mechanics to be as simple and understandable as we can make them.

Lastly, we want this to be a "big tent" campaign. There are many different play-styles, and we want to welcome all sorts of players, from the folks who've scoured the legal resources to build a mechanically twinked-out super-monk, to the folks who just like to role-play and roll dice when they have to, but aren't interested in the math behind some of their stats.

Am I missing anything? Would anyone dispute that these are reasonable goals?

Some of these goals are in conflict if you push one or another too hard. We want people to understand how their PCs CMB is being calculated, but we don't want to kick out the casual players who don't want to learn all those rules.

Having said that, it seems to me that we can serve our campaign's goals by (a) allowing tools like HeroLab, to catch missing modifiers and calculation errors, (b) still requiring the players to own all their additional resources, and (c) inviting players to explain their twinked-out stats when appropriate.

So, when I'm running a high-tier game, I'll ask my players about their characters' game mechanics all the time. "You have an attack bonus of +18? Super cool! How did you pull that off?" "An Intimidate bonus of +25? Sounds like something my paladin could use. Could you walk me through that?" It's important to me that I ask more often than I need to, because I don't want to appear as if I'm threatening the players when I ask. This shouldn't be accusatory: "Oh yeah?! Show me!"

Almost all the time, the player will smile, and explain how he came up with...

In fairness, even with characters I've built by hand, I probably wouldn't be able to lay out all the numbers on the spur of the moment. Especially if I hadn't just built the character or played him recently. Or if he was fairly high level and I'd just been adding on to the existing character as I went.

Don't get me wrong, I'd figure it out, but it might take a little while. Time I'd rather spend playing. If something weird comes up and I need to know, I'll figure it out then.
That's not because I had someone else build the character or because I blindly followed an online build or because I used HeroLab. That's because I've got better things to do than remember the details of how each ability of however many characters I've got was calculated. That's why I precalculate the numbers and write them down.
I suppose I could write each input to each number down in a little column on the sheet, but that's going to need a bigger character sheet and get awful cluttered. (Actually it would be nice if HL was, at least in the gui, if not the printed sheet, specific about each calculation - maybe showing all the inputs when you hover over it or some such.)

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jiggy wrote:

Wow, okay, definitely haven't read the whole thread. Nevertheless, this personal anecdote seems relevant:

I encountered a new player wanting to get started in PFS. He had apparently heard from someone that I was reasonably good with the rules, and being a newbie himself he wanted to make sure he didn't make any mistakes, so he wanted me to help him build his character.

I thought, "Sure, why not?"

Turns out, though, what he actually wanted was to hand me a blank character sheet, then describe the kind of character he wanted to make, and have me list and describe the various options that existed, and have him choose. Then he wanted me to do the actual writing and the math and so forth.

That was way beyond what I was willing to do, but then he offered to pay me. I cautioned him that I wasn't familiar with all the options out there, but then he said that if I'd just read up on everything that would help him build a [REDACTED] from a certain list of books (I assumed it was the list of books he owned), he'd pay for each book I had to read through.

I thought, "Sure, I could use some spare cash."

So I did my homework, got paid, and started working with him on his character. He was the guy in charge, but I was doing all the math/rules/etc and telling him what was available. Eventually, we finished, and he had a brand-new character, which I reviewed with him to make sure he understood how to play it.

I thought we were done.

He was at the next PFS game day I attended, sitting at a different table. Halfway through the session, my table was taking a break, and I happened to overhear this from the newbie's table:

GM: I'm pretty sure that's not actually legal.
Player (pointing straight at me): But he said it worked, so shouldn't it be fine?

The GM looked over at me, and I was just kind of staring, dumbfounded. After a few moments, the GM then turned back to the newbie and said, "Well, no problem, we'll just look it up. What book is [REDACTED] in?"

He said he...

Sounds like someone was trying to use YOUR access to books, to get around paying for them himself. If someone asks me to build a character for them, I stick to CRB options unless they show me they own other material. It's also practical, if they don't own other books, they're probably not read up enough to run it anyway.


Dorothy Lindman wrote:
Gauss wrote:

Gwen Smith, you seem to have missed my point, repeatedly.

I never said the issue was with Hero Lab. I have always maintained that the issue is with people who use it as a crutch and who make statements such as "But Hero Lab said....".

Let me be absolutely clear.
1) Hero Lab is fine as a tool.

2) People are more than welcome to use Hero Lab as a tool in my games. I have players that do so.

3) Contrary to certain people's beliefs (not all people) Hero Lab is not a rules source.

4) Hero Lab is not infallible.

5) Hero Lab is not a substitute for knowing the rules. Unfortunately some people treat it as one.

Gwen, please read my posts in context as you have clearly taken them out of context and treated what I wrote as an attack on Hero Lab when it is clearly not the case.
My problem is with people who use Hero Lab as a substitute for the rules and then do not understand that they are violating the rules.
I also have a problem with people who think that Hero Lab is infallible when it can produce errors (usually user error but sometimes not).

Clearly, I am not the only one that has seen this sort of behavior from certain Hero Lab users.

I wasn't assuming your post was an attack on Hero Lab so much as I was trying to point out that all of the issues in your post (and a lot of other posts--yours was just nice and concise!) are general issues with the player base and not issues with Hero Lab per se. We need to address the underlying issues rather than fuss about where we see the symptoms appear.

You say you've seen this behavior from Hero Labs users. I'm saying I see this behavior from all kinds of players, regardless of what tool they are using.

The only honest-to-Desna problem intrinsic to Hero Lab itself is "It contains all the rule text in it, so players think they don't need the books." Some other specific Hero Lab problems are "Players don't know how to use Hero Lab and it slows the game down while they look for stuff" and...

You made several points in response to points I did not make. One such point was asking if the correct response is to eliminate Hero Lab. I never suggested such a thing.

You were quoting a response to someone who had already taken me out of context. You only continued that.

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