Can GMs for PFS turn players away just because they feel like it?


Pathfinder Society

1 to 50 of 106 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

I've read in the Guide to Organized Play about how to handle potential 7-player table situations or 3-player tables, but I've also seen something else a few times and wondered about it.

What I've seen is GMs who say "I won't run a 6 player table" or "I won't run for more than 4 people" etc. For one's own home game or whatever naturally its fine, but I was wondering if this is allowed for a PFS game?

I'm sure there's all kinds of opinions on the subject, but I'm not really looking to start a discussion on the relative merits and difficulties of different table sizes. What I want to know is if there's any official rule/FAQ/etc about it like "For a PFS game a GM can't turn anyone away that's interested, except a would-be seventh player" or conversely "There are no rules, the GM can run however they please." Something like that?

Sovereign Court

It depends on whether the game is public and how the signups were handled.

If you advertise a 4 player table, then you have a leg to stand on when the 5th or 6th players show up anyway and you want to turn them away. Of course Paizo and the VOs would generally want you to find a way to run for those people who showed up and obviously have an interest in PFS. Telling them you just don't want to run for them in a venue where there are no other tables for them is piss-poor customer service. And PFS customer service is what you're doing as a PFS GM, don't kid yourself!

If you just simply want to exclude specific people you don't want to play with, it's better to just hold "private" games where you invite who you want to play with.


If the PFS game is being hosted in a home, online, or other private environment, then it's pretty much whatever the GM wants in terms of seating and attendance. While the GM can't technically refuse a player from sitting at the table, as the host of the home (or online event) they can certainly ask that person to leave. Hard to attend a PFS session when you've been asked to leave the property, after all.

For a public PFS event, hosted in a game store or library, things get a lot more touchy. Technically, there's nothing in the Guide to Organized Play that gives a GM the latitude to exclude someone from their table. However, GMing is done on a volunteer basis. If the GM says that they won't run the game under such and such a condition, then someone either needs to step up and GM in their place or there's no game.

If you're in a small community and that one GM is the only person willing to GM, then there's not a lot that can be done about it. They are essentially holding the game hostage. It's incredibly rude and as area organizers we strongly discourage this sort of behavior, but if no-one else present is willing to run (or if someone's willing to step up but suddenly there aren't enough players) then there's little to be done about it.

In a larger venue, there's a much better chance that either one of the players will step up, or the organizer can pull someone from another table to run instead. You might not always be playing the scenario that you had wanted to play, but you'll have a game.

Speaking as one of the organizers for my region, this sort of thing is really frowned upon. It makes my job a great deal more difficult if someone starts giving out conditions like this. My typical response would be to dis-invite said GM from running a game at any of my events. Whether it would be temporary or permenant would depend on the situation and the attitudes involves at the table. I believe most organizers are going to respond in a similar fashion.

So the short answer is... sometimes there's not much that can be done about it right then, but organizers really dislike this behavior and there will likely be consequences in some form or another.

Even in a small community with loose organization, you'll see some form of reaction. Players don't like having games held hostage either, and they can always opt to not attend if such and such a person is GMing that day.

EDIT: The direct answer to your question is that no, there is nothing in the Guide to Organized Play that says a GM must sit all the people who wish to play. Neither is there anything directly allowing them to refuse players. The Guide isn't phrased that way, because PFS is a volunteer organization. The over all tone of the Guide, however, encourages GMs to work things out as they can and reminds them that they represent the face of Pathfinder Society Organized Play at every game they run.

EDIT EDIT: Of course, the Guide also reminds players of the Most Import Rule (Don't be a Jerk) and GM's are well within their authority to ask someone to leave the table if they are being a disruptive influence. It's good to give warnings first, but if someone is a repeat offender then 'banning' them from attending future games is reasonable. This sort of thing is usually handled by the organizer (assuming the two roles aren't being combined in one person) but if a certain GM and a certain player don't get along then it's fine to bring that up to the organizer as a legitimate concern.

EDIT EDIT EDIT: Some of the other posters bring up a good point. If the table has been advertised as having a player limit and there are signups, that's completely different.

4/5

If it's the only table, I'd make room for a player (especially a new player), UNLESS that person has been around long enough and been told to sign up in advance and never does and this is a repeat issue... at some point, players need to follow the processes that the local lodge has in place to organize games. We use Warhorn, and folks who don't but then show up last-minute are not always accommodated.

If it's a newer GM, and they've prepped a certain subtier and the new player will change subtiers or require adjustments on the fly, I'd also support them saying "no" if they felt they needed to. Grooming a new GM trumps the enjoyment of a single player in this case.

Having said that - depending on the scenario and the mix of players already there, there are some scenarios that just disintegrate with a large group, especially if they are combat-focused and the players are near the top of the subtier. A GM may be weighing the benefit of accommodating one player, versus the enjoyment of 6+ other people. It's a tough call, and I think I've always erred on the side of letting people play - but I do only post sign-ups for 4 or 5 for some scenarios.

Liberty's Edge 4/5 5/5

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't think GM's should refuse to seat a player just "because they feel like it."

There could be a number of reasons. Many GMs won't run a table of 7 players unless it would mean turning away a player (if there are no other tables, for example.) Sometimes, space is a consideration: I'm setting up an event for this summer at a restaurant, and some of the booths they will give us only seat 4 people in the booth, with a chair at the end for the GM. So, those tables will be capped at 4 players.

There are a number of factors, and GM Lamplighter has highlighted a couple, that could impact that decision.

But, if a GM is going to restrict the number of players in a publicly advertised venue/session, my opinion is that he or she needs to have a reasonable basis for that decision, beyond "I don't like running tables with 7 people."

Liberty's Edge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

I won't run a table with 7 players, I find it more disruptive and trivializing to an adventure than it is worth. And since legal table size is capped at 6 and our sign ups on Warhorn are for 6 slots, I choose not to go over that number.

By the same token, I will not sit at a 7 player table either. I will excuse myself from the session and leave the GM with a more manageable number.

As for other reasons, if I know that a particular player is disruptive or that there is significant animosity between certain players that will cause friction and disrupt the game, I have no problem telling them to find another table... though in that case I will generally tray and work a swap with another GM to keep everyone happy.

In a home game, well, it's a home game for a reason, so that I only invite those I want to be there.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Regarding 7 players, the ideal situation would be to have one player step up and GM, making two tables of 3 PCs plus a pregen.

It could either be that scenario, cold, or another scenario, like a replayable intro.

This exact sort of situation and solution has actually happened quite a bit in our area.

But sometimes it doesn't work.

What I started doing was bringing blank index cards to games. When a 7th person shows up, and nobody is willing to run another game, I use the cards to take an anonymous vote to see if the other players are comfortable with a 7th.

If one vote is in the negative, that 7th person doesn't have a game (and I emphasize the importance of signing up early for next time).

I've actually found, after doing this since last summer, that most players don't like 7 person parties.

An anonymous vote allows them to comfortably say so.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Does this actually happen? I can't even remember seeing a public event, where someone insisted to be seated, of course the word public really is the issue here. I haven't played in a location without any single person present who had the right to kick someone of the premises.

I guess if you want to avoid the whole issue, just offer the rounds with just a warhorn link, don't even list the date and time on your flyer. Once people have registered on your website of choice, make sure to add on your page - and the flier, that it is first come first served, and that for reasons of fairness and preparation, you are not able to accommodate players that have not registered for the event.

This should cover all your bases, or if you are in doubt, just give out your email address, and just plan your private games in a public place.

Ideally you never want to do this, just advertising your tables for 4 players should be enough, and especially when it comes to modules more players can be seriously disruptive.

The guide is pretty unclear about this, and this might not be an area where we want a definitive ruling. And since no one can force the GM to run the adventure, enforcing any rule regarding this issue becomes moot.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

My understanding of rights is this:

A GM does have the right to refuse to GM a table for any reason. This is not the same thing as having the right to turn anyone away from the table for any reason, though sometimes it may result in effectively the same thing. It also doesn't mean that just because a GM is exercising their rights, they aren't violating the "Don't be a jerk," rule.

The organizer/host/venue owner has a right to turn anyone away from the table for any reason just as they have a right as a business to turn away any customer they so choose (except for reasons of race, religion, gender, or sexual identity). Frequently, the organizer is also a GM but if they are excluding people from the table or venue, they are doing so by exercising their rights as an organizer/host/venue owner, not as a GM.

Or course, the GM has the right to ask the organizer to exclude someone, and frequently organizers will side with GMs. But that is not the same thing as having a right to exclude someone.

All of these rights were meant as a counter to excessively disruptive players and not as a means of promoting personal agendas. As such, Paizo discourages excessive use of these rights.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5

I pretty much agree with trollbill.
But one thing to emphasize is that the reason why the GM is turning a player away matters a LOT. The more "reasonable" that seems then the more latitude the GM has in practice.

For example, it is considered nearly universally acceptable to turn away a player with a proven history of being disruptive, cheating, etc.

It is nearly universally considered very bad behaviour to turn away a player because he is playing a <insert class the GM doesn't like>.

The case of a player who refuses to tone down their over powerful character and ruins the fun for everybody else lies somewhere in between.

Other reasons vary greatly by the group, individuals involved, etc.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne aka trollbill

As to the specific issue of table limits, there are organizers in our area who do things to encourage smaller table sizes (specifically 5 person tables) especially at Cons. Frequently, they create signups with only 5 available seats and anyone beyond that is considered waitlisted. However, I have never seen them actually turn the 6th player away from the table. They will, however, fully support GMs who refuse to GM a 7 person table.

5/5 5/55/5

Nefreet wrote:

Regarding 7 players, the ideal situation would be to have one player step up and GM, making two tables of 3 PCs plus a pregen.

I'd prefer a 7th player over someone running cold. Very few GM's can pull off running cold, those tables almost always suck. I always go home instead of playing with a GM running cold. A GM running cold is 4 hours of misery.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

While I generally agree with the post above, there are GM's that can run cold and do it well if needed. Especially the older scenarios. I will, if asked, run cold and usually the player's don't even notice.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5

RCW wrote:

While I generally agree with the post above, there are GM's that can run cold and do it well if needed. Especially the older scenarios. I will, if asked, run cold and usually the player's don't even notice.

It also depends a lot on what you mean by "cold". Like most GMs I've played and/or GMed a very large number of scenarios. Even if I've forgotten the details running one that I've run before is a long way from "cold".

And, of course, some scenarios can be run cold much easier than others.

Dark Archive

I run PFS games normally at my home.. but sometimes stores..

And there are a few people i wont let at my table. Every GM may handle it a bit different ( some hate 7 player tables , some wont allow a certain person " trouble player"...

If running at a public venue i try to be as flexible as possible..

but if I am the GM.. then its my game...


roysier wrote:
Nefreet wrote:

Regarding 7 players, the ideal situation would be to have one player step up and GM, making two tables of 3 PCs plus a pregen.

I'd prefer a 7th player over someone running cold. Very few GM's can pull off running cold, those tables almost always suck. I always go home instead of playing with a GM running cold. A GM running cold is 4 hours of misery.

I usually have back up scenarios ready to be run if need be. I have dmed we be goblins 11 times now. I can run it from memory. Being a simple one it is not hard.

As for the original question. There are jerks everywhere you go. As a DM I will warn people or call a break and tell them to apologize or leave. If they do it again I will ban them from my tables. So Far in my stars of experience I warned 3 people. I am very aggressive against people that are jerks and i let you known I will not stand for it.

If I have a problem with a player I am very capable of ignoring it if they do when we play together. If they can not I would ask them to leave if they were disrupting other people. If it was just me I would talk to them after the game and talk with them.

Sovereign Court 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Wisconsin—Pleasant Prairie aka Brew City Crafter

I try my best to find a solution where everyone who shows up to play can find a spot at a table. However, we are very lucky in that our local lodge has a relatively large group of GMs (such as Finlanderboy) that are willing to step and run another table, at a moment's notice.

While for the most part, all of our regulars sign up in advance, we do have a few semi regulars that either don't sign up or sign up less than 24 hours in advance. Regardless of my own personal concerns with the logistical impact of this behavior, we've found a way to make it work.

With regard to seven player tables, I've only run two of them and they have both been at Cons (coincidently, Cons run by the same local organizer). While I didn't particularly enjoy how it can (and did) trivialize parts of a scenario, I don't want to turn people away. I sucked it up and put aside my own misgivings and did what was best for the players and in the end everyone had a good time. And in the end this is supposed to be fun.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Memphis aka Mulgar

1 person marked this as a favorite.
wellsmv wrote:

I run PFS games normally at my home.. but sometimes stores..

And there are a few people i wont let at my table. Every GM may handle it a bit different ( some hate 7 player tables , some wont allow a certain person " trouble player"...

If running at a public venue i try to be as flexible as possible..

but if I am the GM.. then its my game...

No it'so not your game, it'seems the players game too.

Some high star gm's around here seem to have forgotten that.


Reasons I have heard for the table limits of 'only 4' or 'no more than 5' that I've seen haven't been about excluding any specific person for cause. Its been things like "more players than that bogs down the game" or "its too confusing having more than 4 players" or "pathfinder's meant for 4 player groups, so I won't run more than that." or "more than 5 players and there's no challenge, and people get bored."

Some of the games I've seen with player limits like this have been online games, with signups. But I've also been turned away from tables a couple of times at major conventions, when the GM didn't want to allow a 6th player at their table. I was certainly asking about games run in public places, not someone's private home.

As far as it goes though, I think online should be considered a public locale as much as a game store or convention, and take whoever wants to play, up to 6. With roll20 and the like, I find online games tend to go even faster than tabletop now. Everyone can see the map easily, and the GM doesn't need to draw out the dungeon... so I don't agree with a 'takes too long' opinion for online play.

Back in the day, when it was the Living City campaign that was the only national campaign, online games would take enormous amounts of time to play.. the games were typed through rather than talked and very slow. One '4 hour' game I played in online took 13 hours RL to play through, and most took around 8 hours. Things are much better now.

Anyway it seems I have my question answered. I had just wanted to know if there was ever a rule or injunction from on high that would-be players had to be accepted up to 6, for public PFS games. Something to go with the information that season 4+ scenarios are designed and balanced for 6 players. But it seems not. I just recently saw the posting for a game where the GM stated that people absolutely couldn't talk them into running for more than 4 people, and it reminded me of the other times I've seen limits being placed.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Memphis aka Mulgar

A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....

Sovereign Court

I think its fairly accurate to say that season 4 scenarios are balanced around 5-6 people, and have provisions when playing with 4 PCs.

I could maybe see if the GM doesn't want to run a scenario from an earlier season (like 0-2) with more than 4 PCs because those are usually a lot easier. The more recent scenarios seem to run nicely with 5-6.

That being said its nicer to have smaller tables because the game runs faster and is easier to manage. But the goal should be to maximize the amount of people who get to participate in game day. If everyone can participate when a bunch of 4 player tables, great! Sometimes you just have to get in that 6th or 7th player and don't really have a choice. I would hope that people don't get turned away from game day in those circumstances, because that's a great way to discourage people from coming back.

I guess online is a different beast.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

There's no hard rule on it, but you can't force anyone at a table to play or run at a table they don't want to play or run on. It's not unfair for a GM to set limits on what they're comfortable with.

At a con or game store, the GM will generally agree on something with their event organiser first, though if you feel like that's not the case, you can bring it up with the event organiser (usually a Venture Officer).

Online games aren't public games just because they're taking on "anyone who wants to play". The common rule is that the GM sets up a game, sets up any rules for signup, and confirms with those players that they're good to go. GM's don't have to make any arrangements with an event organiser in the same way a game at a store would work, because they are the event organiser.

Shadow Lodge

16 people marked this as a favorite.
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....

Sorry, but that's really unfair. Everyone's got different comfort zones and has their preferences, and that's fine.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think all of us are human beings GMs and players alike. There are characters or concepts or even people we like and don't like. I know my personal preferences, and try to rise above them while at the table.

I've turned down running for a 7th player once at a public gameday (because the entire scenario was in small spaces), but run for 7 more than once in public as well as running Dragon's Demand for 7 (and scaling those maps was interesting). I've also sat at a table as a 7th player.

In the public venue where I do most of my gaming and playing, I've never turned a specific player away, nor do I have any control over who signs up. In those public events unless someone is being disruptive to the table or the environment, I will not turn them away, and even so would talk with them first. In a home game, yes I've cherry picked players (and suggested they don't run specific character types and once even a specific build as it was largely based on one of my own, that I knew to well).

Scarab Sages 4/5

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Avatar-1 wrote:
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....
Sorry, but that's really unfair. Everyone's got different comfort zones and has their preferences, and that's fine.

What Avatar-1 said.

Whenever a question like this thread comes up, I think it's worthwhile to stop, take a breath, and remember that all of the GMs and organizers are volunteers. They are donating their time to help facilitate the fun of others. There is a wide range of experience and comfort level among the GMs. Some GMs have been gaming for decades. Some are relatively new to Pathfinder or to RPGs. Some are as young as 10 (maybe younger?). They should not all be held to the same standards or expected to be able to handle the same situations. The PFS rules have a degree of flexibility in them to allowed for the varied experience and comfort levels of the GMs, and to make GMing less intimidating. If all a GM is ever comfortable doing is GMing for four players at a time, that's still four players per table that got to play a game they otherwise wouldn't have.

In a select few circumstances, there might be a legitimate complaint if a GM won't seat 6 players. If a convention has sold 6 tickets for the table, for example, I would think that would mean the GM shouldn't limit the table to 4 or 5, but hopefully in that situation, the GM was aware of the expected table size before signing up.

5/5 5/55/55/5

I think 7 is specifically called out as DM's option though

Sczarni

I will gm for 7, especially if it includes new players but I would rather there be 2 tables. There is only one person I would be tempted to pack my stuff up and leave before gming for but most likely never would due to keeping face with the others.

I agree with what has been previously said, preferences go to those who sign up and to very new players. I would go to the VC or VL before kicking out cheating or disruptive players to make sure I am not burning bridges myself. Thankfully, my area does not currently have that problem, even if it is smaller than I would like for pfs play in terms of # of players.

4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Tennessee—Memphis aka Mulgar

Ferious Thune wrote:
Avatar-1 wrote:
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....
Sorry, but that's really unfair. Everyone's got different comfort zones and has their preferences, and that's fine.

What Avatar-1 said.

Whenever a question like this thread comes up, I think it's worthwhile to stop, take a breath, and remember that all of the GMs and organizers are volunteers. They are donating their time to help facilitate the fun of others. There is a wide range of experience and comfort level among the GMs. Some GMs have been gaming for decades. Some are relatively new to Pathfinder or to RPGs. Some are as young as 10 (maybe younger?). They should not all be held to the same standards or expected to be able to handle the same situations. The PFS rules have a degree of flexibility in them to allowed for the varied experience and comfort levels of the GMs, and to make GMing less intimidating. If all a GM is ever comfortable doing is GMing for four players at a time, that's still four players per table that got to play a game they otherwise wouldn't have.

In a select few circumstances, there might be a legitimate complaint if a GM won't seat 6 players. If a convention has sold 6 tickets for the table, for example, I would think that would mean the GM shouldn't limit the table to 4 or 5, but hopefully in that situation, the GM was aware of the expected table size before signing up.

The at least 4 people got to play argument is ridiculous. How can you justify sending those players home with out a game? As a GM in a public forum part of the expectation is 6 people tables. You sign up for that going in.

I have often times jumped out of a 6 person table to GM so a person wouldn't be sent home. Some times running cold and almost doing a TPK in the process. But every one of those players were having a bLast, even the dead guy.

I will sit anybody at my table, whether I like them or not and I will run 7 player tables. Just don't run all over the other players and we will be just fine.....


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

While it should generally be the GMs choice as to who can play at his table, the decision to exclude any player from a table or session must not be taken lightly. Pathfinder Society is meant to be an inclusive and fun activity for all people involved and as a way to introduce people into the game or groups.

Simply put, if your GM is turning people away capriciously then they should not be GMing for PFS because they are failing to comply with the spirit of PFS. If you feel this is the case, first discuss the reasoning with the GM and if his explanation is insufficient take it to the event coordinator or up to your local Venture Officer.

5/5 5/55/55/5

having someone that can run as backup and a bit of plywood with a tablecloth can make a table almost anywhere

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

3 people marked this as a favorite.

@Arcwin: The rule, as cited in a similar thread a while back, was that, if the GM or Organizer announces a game for X number of people, whether that is 4, 5, 6 or 7, they have the right to only seat X number of people at their table.

So, what I have seen, frequently, is that some GMs will, for Season 0-3 and modules and AP segments, post a hard limit of either 4 or 5 players. Mainly because these games are designed to handle 4 PCs, not 6.

The same GMs will, frequently, bump the limit up to 6 for Season 4 and later scenarios, but that is because those games are designed to handle 6 PCs.

Oftentimes, in my experience, too many players at a table can cause unintentional issues, whether it is someone never getting to act in any combat, or someone not getting heard over the general noise level. And those can affect even online or home games, where the GM and players are the general noise level.

As a GM, I prefer not to GM 7 player tables, it tends to do bad things to everyone's' fun, including mine. As a player, I have been known to give up my seat if we wind up with a 7 player table.

BTW, to the VOs: I GM PFS, not as a representative of Paizo, but because the PFS scenarios are usually short, quick, inexpensive, and cover the problems I have with world-building; amd, also, because there was, when I started doing it, very little other PFS available, other than the now-moribund monthly Game Days and defunct annual gaming convention.

In other words, if I didn't do it, no one was. Our original VC jumped on the site and day I was doing, and helped pump up attendance, and find some alternate GMs. When he stopped being VC, things slowed down for my game day at the FLGS again.

New VC, I think he bit off more than he could chew. Assigned multiple VLs, not sure if any of them were supposed to coordinate with the shop I GM at. Nothing very visible from him.

Third VC, he did more, while he could. Tried to get PFS going at some of the other local conventions, not much local response. Life came up and bit him.

Our current VC, our fourth, is seeing if running PFS online is the solution to get PFS going locally. That is fairly recent, not sure how it is working out. At the first game, one of the other players brought in a friend from another location to make it a 4 player table...

So, Saturdays is, usually, me as GM, although I have been tryign to get others to run, as well. Only one taker, so far. Sundays is a different organizer/primary GM, but his job doesn't leave him able to always run on Sundays. My job moved me away from being able to show up for his games, since I have to be at work before his game session ends, usually.

I am going to be trying to run Bonekeep 1 on the 2nd of May, locally, no idea how well that is going to go oevr. Not even sure how many people have PCs in the correct level range, as the turnover sometimes seems to leave us in perpetual Confirmation/Wounded Wisp mode.

Sczarni

1 person marked this as a favorite.
kinevon wrote:

@Arcwin: The rule, as cited in a similar thread a while back, was that, if the GM or Organizer announces a game for X number of people, whether that is 4, 5, 6 or 7, they have the right to only seat X number of people at their table.

So, what I have seen, frequently, is that some GMs will, for Season 0-3 and modules and AP segments, post a hard limit of either 4 or 5 players. Mainly because these games are designed to handle 4 PCs, not 6.

The same GMs will, frequently, bump the limit up to 6 for Season 4 and later scenarios, but that is because those games are designed to handle 6 PCs.

Oftentimes, in my experience, too many players at a table can cause unintentional issues, whether it is someone never getting to act in any combat, or someone not getting heard over the general noise level. And those can affect even online or home games, where the GM and players are the general noise level.

As a GM, I prefer not to GM 7 player tables, it tends to do bad things to everyone's' fun, including mine. As a player, I have been known to give up my seat if we wind up with a 7 player table.

BTW, to the VOs: I GM PFS, not as a representative of Paizo, but because the PFS scenarios are usually short, quick, inexpensive, and cover the problems I have with world-building; amd, also, because there was, when I started doing it, very little other PFS available, other than the now-moribund monthly Game Days and defunct annual gaming convention.

In other words, if I didn't do it, no one was. Our original VC jumped on the site and day I was doing, and helped pump up attendance, and find some alternate GMs. When he stopped being VC, things slowed down for my game day at the FLGS again.

New VC, I think he bit off more than he could chew. Assigned multiple VLs, not sure if any of them were supposed to coordinate with the shop I GM at. Nothing very visible from him.

Third VC, he did more, while he could. Tried to get PFS going at some of the other local conventions, not much local response. Life came up and bit...

Thank you and the others who more often than not GM on a primary basis, whether wanting to or not.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Mulgar wrote:
wellsmv wrote:

I run PFS games normally at my home.. but sometimes stores..

And there are a few people i wont let at my table. Every GM may handle it a bit different ( some hate 7 player tables , some wont allow a certain person " trouble player"...

If running at a public venue i try to be as flexible as possible..

but if I am the GM.. then its my game...

No it'so not your game, it'seems the players game too.

Some high star gm's around here seem to have forgotten that.

Yes and no, the GM has far more responsibilities and knows where the breaking points are. As a GM it is your job to make sure that everybody has fun. If you come the conclusion, that adding another player is a significant detriment to your and your players enjoyment of the game...

Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....

Modules don't scale, if a GM decides that he only wants to offer some for max. 4 players he is should be empowered to do so.

Some scenarios have a vary wildly in difficulty between playing them with 4 players and 6 ( when we played a very recent season 6 scenario in slot 0 we kinda struggled, so we ended up offering 2 6 player tables instead of 3 4 player tables... it didn't scale very well).

Or maybe the GM thinks that considering the adventure in question, that adding more players would obliterate any time to actually do some RP.

Grand Lodge 4/5

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Mulgar wrote:
The at least 4 people got to play argument is ridiculous. How can you justify sending those players home with out a game?

Easy. If the GM who can only handle 4 people wasn't there, then 6 or 7 people would be sent home instead of 2 or 3. To say that anything less than no one being sent home is worthless actually is ridiculous. In a perfect world it would be fine, but the world isn't perfect and sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

Mulgar wrote:
As a GM in a public forum part of the expectation is 6 people tables. You sign up for that going in.

No, I'm pretty sure you sign up for whatever you're comfortable with going in. The attitude that you have to run for 6 people or not run at all is a damaging one that has definitely cost PFS some people who would otherwise be great GMs.

Scarab Sages 4/5

2 people marked this as a favorite.

It's really up to the organizer of the event. If the organizer sets a rule for their events that only GMs willing to run 6 player tables can run, and a GM isn't willing, then the organizer can decline to have that GM run at their event. Similarly, if an organizer wants to schedule a four person table (whether because the GM is only willing to run for four, or the organizer feels a four person table will provide the best experience), they are within their rights to do that. The guide only comments on what is a legal table size, not on protocol for scheduling events. That's left of to the organizer, which in my opinion helps PFS work in a wide variety of situations.

Online, often the organizer and the GM are the same, since a lot of games are posted individually and directly by the GM.

I don't personally advocate sending a player home, if it can be avoided. And locally, the Venture Officers generally do a good job of finding everyone a seat. Sometimes it isn't possible, though, like when the only scenario someone can play already has 7 players, and no one volunteers as a 2nd GM so the table can split.

I've played at and GMed a few 7 player tables, and I have to say, it's not my favorite thing. I find I prefer 4 player tables in most instances, because it gives more time to each individual over the course of the game. But some scenarios I feel safer going in with a 6 person table, because I don't trust the 4-player adjustment (ahem Waking Rune ahem). As a GM, I don't ask to limit my tables. I go with whatever the organizer wants to do. The most interesting 7 player table I ever played at involved 3 Half-Orc Barbarians, 2 Tieflings shortly after they were made legal without a boon, and 2 Humans (my LG Cleric and a Wizard). The combats were so overwhelmed, that one of the Barbarians smashed a water tank, just so we could fight the creatures inside, and everyone would have something to target in combat.

Liberty's Edge

I've started GMing regularly fairly recently, and our area has a good PFS turnout most weeks. I generally take games on a case-by-case basis; I'll run for six or seven if there's six or seven people signed up, I know them well enough to tell them to STFU so I can make myself heard, and/or there's no one in the group I absolutely loathe.

That being said, I have been on both sides of the 'I won't GM for seven/six people' argument. It can be embarrassing and unfair for both sides. It also depends on who's involved, what they're comfortable with, and does anyone really want to play with that paladin from last week who pulled thus-and-such annoying Lawful Good BS? Honestly, I think the reason that there isn't (and shouldn't be) a universal rule about GMs turning players away is because there are just too many variables to how/when games are run.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....

Good thing we're talking about GMs that don't WANT to handle that many players then.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....

We are all traveling at different paces along the same road of understanding.

I'm a much better GM than I was when I started playing PFS, and the GM I was when I started was better than the GM I was in middle school. Everyone needs time to improve.

2/5

Steven Schopmeyer wrote:
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....
Good thing we're talking about GMs that don't WANT to handle that many players then.

Sometimes the difference don´t matter at all. Our lodge is short in GMs, and if one person offers to GM in our monthly event with some "preferences" I think there will be some tolerance (and some working in how to improve this).

Maybe someone thinks that "banning" a number of players/class/whatever is not fair. And maybe they are right. But there´s no other GM to take his place. So unless his request are illegal or morably questionable (race, gender, religion, etc), I think we will accept (and then see the reasons and how can we help to solve this).

Having saying that this will not be my decission, just my opinion on the matter.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Acedio wrote:

I think its fairly accurate to say that season 4 scenarios are balanced around 5-6 people, and have provisions when playing with 4 PCs.

I could maybe see if the GM doesn't want to run a scenario from an earlier season (like 0-2) with more than 4 PCs because those are usually a lot easier. The more recent scenarios seem to run nicely with 5-6.

That being said its nicer to have smaller tables because the game runs faster and is easier to manage. But the goal should be to maximize the amount of people who get to participate in game day. If everyone can participate when a bunch of 4 player tables, great! Sometimes you just have to get in that 6th or 7th player and don't really have a choice. I would hope that people don't get turned away from game day in those circumstances, because that's a great way to discourage people from coming back.

I guess online is a different beast.

As an aside, you guys rocked that Core Season 6 online game I ran for you last week with only 4 players. I liked having only 4 players, as everything moved faster, and with the adjust combats were still challenging.

Even though we were still a bit sluggish, given that it was online and I was figuring things out, we did get it done in a reasonable amount of time, and the experience was enjoyable enough that I wouldn't mind running again online.

I don't know if I would want to handle more than 4-5 when running online. I did another game of 6 tonight with 2 newbies and it went fairly quick (3-4 hours). But we were doing it in person and it was a scenario I had ran several times before (#5-11). Given the sheer amount of table talk involved in that scenario with that many people, I'd be nervous about replicating it online.

Silver Crusade 3/5

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....

I've been playing RPGs for more than three decades now, much of the time I was the GM.

I believe I do a bang up job.

I also know my strengths and weaknesses with respect to running a game. One of my weaknesses is that I cannot effectively run a game for seven players. I can run for six players to a degree that I'm satisfied with, but not as well as I can run for four or five players.

In my home games, I run for a table of five players. That is the magic number for me when I'm running the game.

When I GM for PFS, I always stipulate that I won't run for a table of 7. There have been a couple of modules that I have run where I stipulated that I would not run for more than 5 people.

As a player, I prefer 5-player tables. I will even take a 4-player table in Season 4 scenario to a 6-player table if I can. I don't usually bow out of 6-player tables, but I always bow out of 7-player tables.

GMs who refuse to sit more than 4 players or more than 5 players have my FULL support.

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

Walter Sheppard wrote:
Acedio wrote:

I think its fairly accurate to say that season 4 scenarios are balanced around 5-6 people, and have provisions when playing with 4 PCs.

I could maybe see if the GM doesn't want to run a scenario from an earlier season (like 0-2) with more than 4 PCs because those are usually a lot easier. The more recent scenarios seem to run nicely with 5-6.

That being said its nicer to have smaller tables because the game runs faster and is easier to manage. But the goal should be to maximize the amount of people who get to participate in game day. If everyone can participate when a bunch of 4 player tables, great! Sometimes you just have to get in that 6th or 7th player and don't really have a choice. I would hope that people don't get turned away from game day in those circumstances, because that's a great way to discourage people from coming back.

I guess online is a different beast.

As an aside, you guys rocked that Core Season 6 online game I ran for you last week with only 4 players. I liked having only 4 players, as everything moved faster, and with the adjust combats were still challenging.

Even though we were still a bit sluggish, given that it was online and I was figuring things out, we did get it done in a reasonable amount of time, and the experience was enjoyable enough that I wouldn't mind running again online.

I don't know if I would want to handle more than 4-5 when running online. I did another game of 6 tonight with 2 newbies and it went fairly quick (3-4 hours). But we were doing it in person and it was a scenario I had ran several times before (#5-11). Given the sheer amount of table talk involved in that scenario with that many people, I'd be nervous about replicating it online.

Walter, we can always use more GMs on the PFSOC, so welcome to the club.

6 players online, these days, is about the same as 6 players FtF. Didn't use to be that way, but VoIP technology is up to handling the stuff, now, so an online game no longer takes half again the time.

Indeed, I have played and GMed a few timed games online, and everything ran within the time. A couple of the Season Specials, and Level One of Bonekeep. Not only did we not exceed the 5 hour limit, but my table actually managed to finish the whole place within the time limit.

For your initial games, stay with stuff without inherent time limits, because things will take longer, due to unfamiliarity. Don't hesitate to ask for advice, plenty of us are willing to give it, and some of it is even useful. ;)

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Southwest aka Socalwarhammer

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Capping a table based a GM's own comfort level seems like a fair decision to be made by each GM for themselves. IMHO, PFS places far too much emphasis on the enjoyment level of a player and much less so on the GM who 'has to work through it' when there are issues involving player 'quirks.' Personally, I don't like to spend my time herding cats.

I know I won't seem the most amenable, but there are some players that I just won't GM for and will turn them away from my table- not out of spite, but the simple truth is they just wear me out.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/55/5 Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

There can be a world if difference between a GM who has 4 players, who preregistered with their characters - thus the GM can calculate the APL ahead of time, and prepare the encounters for the right APL (bring the right pawns, print the right statblocks and research the monsters/rules where necessary) and the very same GM who suddenly has two more walk ins.
Now he might have to run totally different monsters - for which he doesn't have the right pawns with him, prepared stat blocks... etc. so something like this is usually not very conductive to the player experience.

I guess it all depends on your setup, if you push for preregistration and tell people ahead of time how many player slots are open for each event, you should be fine - obviously we try to find a place for every player, but it might not be the scenario the player wants to play.

Dark Archive 5/5 5/55/5

The prep is realy easyer with preregistered characters -> especially if you know the APL

And mastering many modules it is very clear that some of them are just not fun if you have too many players (either because of it is too easy or the characters have literaly no place to move)
Another Reason I could understand ist the space -> some games may be able to seat 7 (or any other number) of players but it is so cramped that you cant even roll a dice or place your bnotes on the table without hindering any other player.

Scarab Sages 5/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

We have had to restric tables to 5 players at a certain location. Because the tables were too small. 5 players + GM + flipmat was all we could (barely) fit.

5/5

Walter Sheppard wrote:
Mulgar wrote:
A GM that can't handle 6 players isn't much of a GM. Period end of sentence.....

We are all traveling at different paces along the same road of understanding.

I'm a much better GM than I was when I started playing PFS, and the GM I was when I started was better than the GM I was in middle school. Everyone needs time to improve.

I do most of my running online nowadays and will rarely seat 6 players. For pre-season 4 I normally limit it to 4, 5 if I think they really need it.

For me it has nothing at all to do with GM experience and everything to do with the experience of the players sitting at the table. Six players is a challenge even playing face to face to give everyone screen time, online the issue is even more pronounced. I would rather give 5 players a great experience and disappoint 2 than give 6-7 players a shoddy experience and dispapoint all of them.

Shadow Lodge

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

In college I regularly ran tables of 12 - 16. It's great when it works. It's a disaster when it doesn't. (This was AD&D and GURPS. A different GM ran the same group with Rolemaster/MERP. Good times.)

I fully support the *right* of GMs to turn players away fully at their discretion. I would hope that they would do so only rarely and would be able to justify it after the fact.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Bellevue aka Divvox2

In our corner of the woods its a matter of inclusion. We always have people unexpectedly show up, and almost always need a surprise GM or two (We're growing surprisingly quickly). Our VL is like many people who GM, they want to play from time to time too and he's a great guy, so for us GMs that offer support we take in as many as we can and split tables when it makes sense so no one gets swamped with players or stuck with GMing all the time (unless they want to).

I agree 7 players is usually too much and it can kill a game, especially with our player base who tend to build really effective characters more often than not. However, we'd prefer everyone we can manage gets a chance and do our best not to turn anyone away. We've always got someone who's signed up for games on notice to emergency GM with a scenario on hand so they aren't 100% cold. I'm all for a GM being comfortable, it's supposed to be fun for everyone involved, but I also hate to turn people away.

Seems to work great for growth at least. We've gone from 1-2 tables for each of 2 sessions once a month to 3-4 tables for each of 2 sessions and a number of floating games/modules every month in what I think has been about 6-7 months.

4/5 5/5

It's all about managing expectations.

For me there is a big difference between:

1) Turning a player away who did not register for a game / was on the waiting list
You can't expect the organizer / GM to seat you if you were not registered or were on the waiting list. If he does that it is very nice, but don't expect the same treatment the next time. And if the organizer / GM decided to offer only tables for four players only that is his right. Situation is different if you are new of course, never turn away a new player!

2) Turning someone away that registered for a game
This is a no-go area. If you were allowed to register you should be able to play. I can understand that a GM does not want to GM for a certain players for whatever reason but that should be sorted out between games and not something that happens at the start of a game. After the issue has been discussed I hope the player refrains from registering at that particular GM's table if the GM still has issues with that particular player.

Bottom line: It is the responsibility of everyone at the table that everyone gets to have fun and the GM is at the table.

1 to 50 of 106 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Organized Play / Pathfinder Society / Can GMs for PFS turn players away just because they feel like it? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.