Campaigns, GM´s, Houserules, bias and fun for players and GMs?


Homebrew and House Rules


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is based on my experience and observations i made, not meant to be a criticism of any person, but a friendly exchange of opinions and experiences.

Most people i saw who had the grace to GM a campaign or an AP for others had often very set views on the game. They liked or disliked certain classes, races, feats, playstyles etc and made modifications based on that or excluded stuff.
On the other hand, there are the players, some of them having visions and ideas what they want to play. Some are very versatile system wise and can make powerful builds, others might have no clue about rules, but a clear vision of their character and a powerful roleplaying ability.
Often there are then discussions about what is too powerful or not.
Fun for players often seems to diminish the fun for GMs and things are then banned.
If this is some feats, some magical items, or spells doesn´t make a big difference mostly, there´s a balancing act.
Now one reason for that is surely balancing stronger players vs others and encounters. Sometimes things like races can or should also be restricted because of the campaign flavor.

Sometimes those things, especially the "balancing" seems a bit unreasonable though and can diminish the fun of the players, who always have less pull.

Now, what are your experiences and opinions on that and how do you handle such things?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

As a GM the only thing I have ever straight up banned from my table is 3rd Party Content. Simply because I don't trust 3rd party companies the same way I trust Paizo, and I rather the players just use rules I am already familiar with rather than a whole new system of psionics or magic or whatever that another publisher came up with. I once made the mistake of allowing some 3rd party monsters that were listed on the D20PFSRD as additional summons for Summon Monster I. They were way to powerful and trivialized a lot of encounters.

As a player, my experience with bans has always been due to my old GMs biases and dislikes. For instance, gunslingers were banned the moment they came out, because my GM at the time thought guns in Pathfinder was a stupid concept. As a result, even though I always wanted to play a Gunslinger ( I'm a big Dark Tower fan. ) I never got to for as long as I was at that table. What is infuriating about GMs banning stuff like this is its not allowed until, all of a sudden it is. This particular GM eventually inserted his own GMNPC that was, you guessed it, a Gunslinger. Didn't bother to tell us the ban had been lifted until he all of a sudden decided he wanted to play one.

Strix were also banned from play on the basis that their lore says they hate humans, and thus could not possibly ever fit into any published campaign ever. ( We only ran APs and modules in this group. ) So I really wanted to play a Strix because I love the idea of playing a winged race, but of course haven't gotten to yet. My current DM bans Strix because he thinks they are 'ugly.'

This GM also had a specific ban for me. He banned me from playing Druids. Druid is my favorite class in PF, and I enjoy experimenting with lots of different builds and character concepts. He didn't like druid as a class, and got annoyed at how well some of my characters did in combat and banned them outright only for me. He later played a druid.

This GM also banned anything lore or rule wise that had to do with the Technic League. Completely wrote the Technic League out of the campaign, because he did not like the idea of tech mixing with fantasy.

All of these experiences didn't result in any increased fun for me as a player, only the denial of a Pathfinder experience that I still want to have.

Grand Lodge

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I have a preference that a player go into any campaign with a character that has a reason to exist in that campaign.

Anything else and you'll be five sessions in when you realize neither of you is enjoying the experience of that character in the story.

Basically, you've got to be able to exercise your fluff to back up the mechanics.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Superscriber

If you're finding that you're in a group where fun for the players is not fun for the GM and vice versa, you're in the wrong group.

If you're playing GM vs. players, you should either be playing a boardgame where that sort of thing is expected (and not a cooperative boardgame like "Pandemic"), or you should find a group where you can all have fun together. That means all either agreeing on what things can be banned, or trusting the GM enough to accept what the GM wants banned and not having that make it feel like it's getting in the way of your fun.

The problem isn't GMs banning stuff getting in the way of the players. The problem is that this is a social game, and not every group of people is going to get along well together. Find a group of people you like to play with.

Grand Lodge

In my experience there's a difference between a GM banning something because he/she 'dislikes' it and because they feel as if it's broken or not thematically appropriate.

Generally when I ban things I do so because of three reasons.

1.) I don't own the source book it comes from.

2.) I don't think that class or race will fit into the campaign I'm running without a REALLY REALLY REALLY good reason.

(Example: 'I want to run a goblin alchemist in RotRL' or 'I want to run a Paladin of Iomedae in Skull and Shackles'.)

3.) I have done a bit of research and found that they are almost made to be broken or useless. These are generally the most unpopular choices. I have never banned a whole class but... archetypes yes.

I guess the most important thing is for a DM to always be willing to hear his/her players out about rules they feel are unfair.

I mean, I listened to one of my players lobby in favor [REDACTED ARCHETYPE]for an hour and a half before ruling that it was still banned... but I DID listen.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I've GMed four campaigns with my current group (a homespun FR campaign, Savage Tide AP, a Star Wars Saga campaign, and nearing completion of RotRL).

I try to ensure that all of my players are having fun and each of them gets moments to shine. I also try to run games that I enjoy because, let's face it, GMing can be a metric butt-ton of work and i want to get some enjoyment out of it if I'm going to sink my free time into it.

There are some things I don't generally allow in my games. There are some things that I might not allow specifically in a certain campaign. I don't ban anything simply because I have a personal dislike for it. Instead, I like to think that I have consistent, meaningful reasons for not allowing the things I don't allow.

-Skeld


Ultimate Campaign Pathfinder.
I apologize if this is not the correct forum.
Hello. I have a friend who is incarcerated, but is able to play Pathfinder, etc. I send him copies of cards I buy, free downloads,etc. I can't spend much $ on these games, plus do not need to buy the books for myself, nor can I send him the whole book. He does not have computer access. He is asking me for Ultimate Campaign Book pages 240-256. He thinks it is a free download. I keep looking but am not having any luck.
Any help would be great. Thanks

Grand Lodge

PRD Home

There is a link for the whole Ultimate Campaign book in the navigation menu on the left side. It doesn't give the exact page numbers but the information should be in there somewhere.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Well that was random.


I don't allow Merfolk, Summoners and Psionics, never have, never will
otherwise i'm fairly open minded:-)


caitlin wrote:

Ultimate Campaign Pathfinder.

I apologize if this is not the correct forum.
Hello. I have a friend who is incarcerated, but is able to play Pathfinder, etc. I send him copies of cards I buy, free downloads,etc. I can't spend much $ on these games, plus do not need to buy the books for myself, nor can I send him the whole book. He does not have computer access. He is asking me for Ultimate Campaign Book pages 240-256. He thinks it is a free download. I keep looking but am not having any luck.
Any help would be great. Thanks

you can always buy a PDF for him ($9.99) then print off the pages you need from that.

sucks to be incarcerated:(
hopefully he pulls through and learns something from it:-)

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

So a GM should shout up and accept anything a player wants to game?

I, for one, like my heroes "heroic". So I don't accept evil or neutral characters (well sometimes very "good" neutral characters).

In my experience people with "evil" characters don't play well in a group, and I don't have the time to be chasing and mediating for a party that doesn't work well together (there are enough drama with a good only party, anyway).

I am sure there are good roleplayers that can get an evil character in the campaign, and make it fun FOR EVERYONE (not just themselves).

But I don't have the time (or the interest) of finding them.

So yes, if you are a good roleplayer that wants very badly to game an evil character, I am sorry, but I am not the DM for you.

I think that applies for most of that things that the DM's "restrict".


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My feeling is that the person doing all the work of setting up and running the game should get to decide if there is anything they don't want in it with no negotiation.

Conversely the people who aren't contributing to any of that work should only get to vote with their feet.

(However this is based on the Online Recruitment model where there is less commitment necessary to switch games. I make no comment on face-to-face versions.)


As a DM I straddle the line between "cooperative storyteller" and "killer DM." I think of it as "I want you to win against these seemingly overwhelming obstacles, but you'll damn well earn it and if you don't then you get to reroll."

As far as material,I'm pretty open to anything, including trying to make houserules to accommodate odd concepts, except for characters that are obviously jokes. I have zero interest in you making a "wacky" nonsensical character that you know for a fact is going to have to be put down by the other PCs within two sessions.

As an example, one character concept that has been joked around a bit is the "skin send alchemist." Which is an alchemist... that is permanently under the Skin Send spell. He will climb onto people and grapple them by wearing them. Oh man, that's creepy and NPCs won't like it if you don't hide what you are, but I can dig it.

The issue comes in when the player announces that he will climb on party members when they are sleeping... and the other players announce that if they woke up to that they would just kill the character. And the player in question says that yeah, he would have to do it anyway for the lulz. And as such, the concept is disallowed because it will obviously not last. If the player wanted to play the character with any sort of subtlety at all and without antagonizing the other PCs into having to kill him, I would have no issue with it.

As a side note I have zero understanding for "if I don't own the book I won't allow it," like that means you as a DM can't look at said material. 95% of all Pathfinder material is a click away on sites like d20pfsrd; if you have an internet connection that reasoning falls flat, and especially so if you have a smartphone or tablet. It's to the point that where actually insisting on using a physical book actually slows the game down. It's like saying "no, you can't be this concept because I'm too lazy to minimize Candy Crush on my smartphone."


As a GM, I try to work with my players. I create the setting, and try to establish a tone, but I want them to get drawn in and attached, and saying yes makes that easier. Also, as a guy who always has unusual characters on his to do list, I understand what its like to want to play a character that has been banned despite being reasonable mechanically speaking. If I can find a way to make things fit, I will.

I also believe that many people are a little too focused on balance, to the point that the experience suffers. Balance is desirable of course, but if it means that interesting concepts are impossible, then something has been lost. It is reasonable to say no to the drow noble synthesist summoner, but saying you can't play a tiefling because they are OP is silly to me.

And the people who want to rewrite the game because they think one class has it too good while another needs to be made awesome, well, I'm not saying they are always wrong, but in my experience, they often go too far. Minor tweaks are normal, but major overhauls to the system are dangerous, not only because they can be unbalanced, but because they make it harder for everyone to know the rules inside and out.

That said, I still draw the line when something is setting breaking or game breaking. I give many options to players, but there will always be limits. "Psionics are fine, maybe next time, but they just don't fit the tone of this campaign." "Yes, I like centaurs too, maybe we'll run a monstrous campaign some day, but not today."

It's all a matter of creating a good experience for everyone involved. It must be a good game, a good world, a good story, and a good group. If you are sacrificing one for the sake of another, you've probably gone too far, and it won't be a fun experience for anyone.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Hayato Ken wrote:

This is based on my experience and observations i made, not meant to be a criticism of any person, but a friendly exchange of opinions and experiences.

Most people i saw who had the grace to GM a campaign or an AP for others had often very set views on the game. They liked or disliked certain classes, races, feats, playstyles etc and made modifications based on that or excluded stuff.
On the other hand, there are the players, some of them having visions and ideas what they want to play. Some are very versatile system wise and can make powerful builds, others might have no clue about rules, but a clear vision of their character and a powerful roleplaying ability.
Often there are then discussions about what is too powerful or not.
Fun for players often seems to diminish the fun for GMs and things are then banned.
If this is some feats, some magical items, or spells doesn´t make a big difference mostly, there´s a balancing act.
Now one reason for that is surely balancing stronger players vs others and encounters. Sometimes things like races can or should also be restricted because of the campaign flavor.

Sometimes those things, especially the "balancing" seems a bit unreasonable though and can diminish the fun of the players, who always have less pull.

Now, what are your experiences and opinions on that and how do you handle such things?

"Hey, have you ever noticed how when two people have their own ideas of how the game should go, and each expects the other to conform to their vision, that conflict happens?"

/thread


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Haha Jiggy! I noticed that a log time ago^^
I´m meeting a lot of new people lately from very different "gaming corners", so i´m getting a lot of different opinions and views there.
Curious on how you handle these things!

I want to discuss this topic, because i think it´s interesting how other people deal with this. Already many interesting things were said. Perhaps really something like an ultimate campaign/Gm can come out of it?
For my part, i think being a GM is a lot like being a moderator. And yes i use moderations techniques while gming often. Of course since i also GM PFS on the internet with people from different cultures and at stores/gamedays with complete strangers, it´s pretty important.
Having a homecampaign is a bit different, but similar for me.

What i can say, it´s right, the GM should also have a lot of fun.
One part of that fun is surely to be able (and have the chance) to tell a story, the story of the campaign or the prepared material. To see the players do nice roleplaying is also part of my fun. Especially important is to see the players have fun though for me.

What i caught myself thinking lately when i applied for others games, online or not, why do they do those restrictions? Why not talk with the players and incorporate their wishes in a reasonable way and have fun together? Because i see many GMs do what they would like to play when they GM. So they run what they want to play, but can´t play it.


Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

We were starting a Runelords campaign I would GM. I wanted the weirdest group of 5 you could make. I wanted to see what a classic campaign looked like with all the additional classes and if that changes what the game is.

I would have loved a really weird take like samurai, gunslinger, investigator, shaman, arcanist. The weirdest/newest fighter/rogue/divine/arcane.

Instead it was barbarian, fighter, cleric, rogue, wizard (died and now an alchemist).


When I GM, my only goal is maximizing the fun that my players have. It's because when I'm surrounded by people who look like they're having fun, and I know that it's my actions that helped them achieve this, then I feel happy too.

That means:
- Making an immersible experience by describing important things concisely, for players with active imaginations.
- Tuning the balance of encounters for players looking for a satisfying strategy experience.
- Re-balancing some characters if one player is giving hints about wanting more screen time / spotlight.
- Granting other players narrative permission if they express their desire to tell the story in a cetain way.
Conversely, it means NOT doing the above things if the players don't care for it.

I break the rules and the story if I judge that it will lead to more fun, and I add houserules to simplify the more 'bookkeeping' parts of the game which lead to less fun.


My group has a passion for breaking pathfinder, my story, or both. Before my players stabilized, I ended up with two people who wanted to play monk. Both of them made it pretty clear in the first session that they intended to control the party's every action, or were generally unpleasant enough in combat that monk got banned. At least in my area, the type of people who wanted to play 'monk' were also banned on the spot.

Banns for certain classes and archetypes have come and gone as more rules appear, but some years later, monk is still banned. No one wants to play with the always-makes-saves no-fun fisting (expletive deleted). We use unarmed fighters (or brawlers) here.

I have a few players who seem to drop in alignment very quickly; their first thought when walking into a plague-stricken town is to 'accidentally' set the nearest building on fire, then block the entrance while shouting 'fire.' The rest of the party just goes with it, and somehow it usually ends up okay, either no survivors, or death threats. Any attempts to play anything too layed-out quickly spiral out of control.

I often wish for a 'normal' group.


I heavily customize my Pathfinder ruleset and run my own campaign setting that ties into that ruleset. If I really don't like something, I just don't write it into the campaign setting, so it doesn't exist. Biggest example is long range teleportation and resurrection magic, and certain forms of divination. It's written into the setting that a spellcaster straight up can't teleport beyond visual range, raise the dead (though I left open the option to try with horrendous consequences because flavor), or see the future/talk to the dead/talk to animals/talk to dieties. So, any spell that would do one of these things is not allowed on the basis that it is outside of the limits of mortal spellcasters. I have a pathological hatred of small sized races, so no small sized race exists in my setting. I like halflings as a concept, though, so they can be just barely medium sized. I do allow a lot of 3PP, though.

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