Finding solution for "Alternate Means of showing ownership of materials."


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Sovereign Court 5/5 Venture-Captain, California—Los Angeles aka Neume

Gary Bush wrote:
Mark Stratton wrote:

I understand the desire to avoid carrying around tens of pounds of books. I do. And, someone upthread (Thurston, I think it was) said something about players making "choices."

As I see it, and this is only my opinion, if player chooses to use something from a book, then he or she is choosing the cost of doing so which requires two things: (a) the purchase of that book (either physical copy or .pdf) and (b) bring that source to the game table with the character who uses the material from it.

If the cost of doing so is too great, can not that player say, "you know, I'll choose something from a source I do own"? Why is it going be the GM's job (which, effectively, is what this proposal does) to pay a cost for the player's choices?

The cost of such choices rest squarely with the player who incurs the cost - that cost shouldn't be transferred to anyone else. And lest you think it's easy, if a GM has to suddenly go through and look through the resource sheet for 6 players to make sure it's all on the up and up, that's less time that GM has for other game-related tasks.

The cost of making those choices must rest with the player, and this proposal seeks to transfer that cost from the player to the GM. I cannot support that.

Again I don't see how this is shifting anything to the GM. Please see Mike Linder's post. He did a very good, better I have been doing, summary.

The proposal says 'I don't want to carry books, so I'm now going to charge GMs their free time so I don't have to carry books.'

Ultimately, I am vehemently against anything that makes GMing harder. We have a massive lack of GMs as it is and adding more load to their work is just as bad as doing it to me or my VO team.

To put this in perspective. Let's say this takes about 3 minutes per player. Our local con has about 150 unique players every convention. That's 450 minutes of other peoples time. With only 30 GMs to do it, that means 15 minutes worth of additional work for them every con. Which translates to a 30 minute break turning into just enough time to not get food before the next slot. Even IF that means they miss one meal a con, that's not a fair trade-off to make.

All this assumes it takes 3 minutes per player, I'm confident it would take longer - especially the first time. This isn't a one time deal either. Every time they get new books they'll need those as well. So this is just a new task that adds 15 minutes of work to the volunteers who are the most needed and the hardest to get.

This is just a bad idea.

Sovereign Court 4/5

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I've been half-paying attention to this thread since it (and another just like it) once again have reared their heads on the forums.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Not to be smarmy or insulting, but why do we continue to have this fruitless discussion time and time again because a handful of people don't want to carry their books, or their PDFs on a tablet or their water-marked printouts of their PDFs around?

Yeah, Books are heavy. Yeah, taking the bus is tough when you've chosen to build each character using 20 resources. Been there, done that. Yeah lugging them all from the airport, or wherever is a pain. Cry me a river. I to the same when I GM, and I have to bring a heck of a lot more material.

But at no time did I consider that some business change their rules simply for my convenience. It was my choice the entire time.

I am not wasting mine, my VO team's, or my 4&5 star GM's time to hold a session simply to satisfy the handful of people who don't play by the rules. RAW is king for everything else, why not this? This is RAW. Discussion over.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

And with no benefit or incentive to the company, either.

In fact, it'd cost Paizo time and money to make this change.

Meetings and discussion, design the sheet, all the tech work involved in getting it online, announce it in a blog, and an explanation why the company decided to eschew the old policy in favor of this.

I'd rather that time and effort be spent on developing new content.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

But I absolutely give props to the OP for making this a polite discussion.

You're probably the only poster I've ever seen who consistently repeated thanks to the opposing side for their viewpoints.

5/5 5/55/55/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Dave Baker wrote:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

My spine begs to differ on that first part... :)

Less jokingly, its possible to reject the proposal as worse than the current situation without being so dismissive of why people are looking for a rules change.

Sovereign Court 4/5

My time is already at a premium, with a)life and b) the running of a lodge, etc. I find it somewhat rude to suggest that more should be placed on me or my volunteers because some players don't like the rules as written regarding source material and ownership requirements.

It (the suggestion) has been rejected as worse numerous times, but proponents continue to bring this up time after time for their own ends, not for the good of their lodge, Paizo or the PFS community at large. I'm not the only one being (somewhat) dismissive.

I will admit that perhaps I could have worded it better.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Dave Baker wrote:


I am not wasting mine, my VO team's, or my 4&5 star GM's time to hold a session simply to satisfy the handful of people who don't play by the rules. RAW is king for everything else, why not this? This is RAW. Discussion over.

Dave,

People are not "playing by the rules" now by not having the resources they should in order to play their character(s). The current method calls for the GM to ask the player to show the books/resources for their character(s). How much time does that take? I would expect more.

But it does not matter because audits are not done consistently. I don't even think audits are done at CONS simply because of the time issue.

My proposal focuses the burden on the player. If I don't want to have to carry all my books, I can have a Resource Tracking Sheet prepared and signed off. Then I, as the players, have to make sure that I copies of ALL relevant pages to support my character(s). All the GM has to is verify the Resource Tracking Sheet, not much different than the Inventory Tracking Sheet, and make sure I have copies of the pages.

Yes, there is a up front time. This does not have be done at a CON. Or even before a session. It can be done at a time defined by the VOs and/or GM.

In any case, I appreciate your comments and the time and effort you give for your local players.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Nefreet wrote:

But I absolutely give props to the OP for making this a polite discussion.

You're probably the only poster I've ever seen who consistently repeated thanks to the opposing side for their viewpoints.

Thank you for the kind words Nefreet.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

To any who care,

I am off on 2 weeks of vacation. Over this time I plan to get caught up on my history and take another look at my suggestion with fresh eyes.

Thank you to everyone who has posted. Positive or negative, your comments added to the discussion.

I am not ready to give up on my idea however.


I have had a thought, though I don't know if people would like it or use it. It's certainly technologically possible.

I am working on a website that is a character generator for PFS (and for Pathfinder wide, eventually). In time, we will have account pages, comments, user groups, and means for individuals to connect with each other and to plan games.

One of the account configurations we will have is a 'Sources Owned' tab, in which a player may toggle (with something like checkboxes) those items that they own. When they then generate characters, the options shown will be limited to those sources toggled. There will also be an option to override your own settings and see all sources.

Another account configuration will be an option to enter in your Paizo #, as well as any VO rank or other qualifications.

Now, it would be work (and there is a lot of work to this app overall, so I don't know if we need more work), but I can conceive of creating a pane in which a user may enter in another user's Paizo #, visually see what items they claim to own, and may then tap a verification checkbox as a digital signature, confirming that you have witnessed ownership.

Realize this would be significantly quicker than paperwork. You could do it on a tablet - you would have to tap in their Paizo number (so, up to six taps, so far), and then would tap those checkboxes you are confirming and then you'd tap 'Submit' and be done. Just picture a grid of checkboxes with source product names, and you'd go 'tap-tap-tap' on each one you are verifying as owned, then Submit. How long do you think that would take?

Then, for other GMs viewing that accounts page, there can be a pane not only showing which items they owned - but also showing digital signatures of other individuals who vouch as witnesses to ownership. This digital signature would include references to whether they have VO rank, GM rank, or no rank.

Q: But what about people making fake accounts pretending to be VO's, verifying their own accounts products, and therefore cheating?
A: Dedicated cons will always exist; that said, to fake a digital signature verifying product ownership, they'd have to con someone's Paizo #id number, which is at least semi-private. However, we'll also have means for a person to submit a complaint over their Paizo # being hijacked. Additionally, multiple accounts from the same IP will also be very obvious to us. If that happens, and someone is found to be doing such a thing, they'd be dealt with. While I think 99% of players (or more) are good folks, I know there are bad eggs everywhere, and I fully intend to always police this site as needed to make sure that it has integrity and can be trusted.

For the record - this is, at the moment, just talk. I'm way to caught up in the character generator itself (which is freakin' huge) to dig into this. However, it *is* conceivable, and if there were enough support I would consider it. It would provide an *easy* way to verify ownership that only requires using some checkboxes and a submit button for each player verified. Think about it.

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

The way I understand it, once upon a time, I am not sure how may iterations of the Guide ago, Paizo allowed people to use photo copies of pages from books. At some point, some people were discovered to be cheating by editing photocopies to actually change the text to their benefit. I do not know if these individuals were punished, but as a response, Paizo decided to make things harder on every else by removing this as an option to everyone based on what, I can only imagine, were as small group of cheaters.

I never really understood this decision. If it was an IP issue because you can't prove the owner of the page photocopied, they never would have allowed this option in the first place? If it was a modification issue, why do they allow .pdfs as these can also be altered? If this is was a punishment issue, why was everyone punished instead of just the perpetrators? If the perpetrators were a small group of people, then why the blanket rule?

So I have a proposal that will not create an additional burden on the organizers, will not create additional paperwork for the players, and will have only a minimal cost increase to those who only own the books and do not want to lug them around everywhere or pay a "proof of ownership tax" by buying a .pdf version of something they already spent good money on and an electronic devise to display it on.

My solution is simple. Remove the ban on photo copies.

5/5

Gary Bush wrote:
It is different from the way things are so for that alone it deserves careful consideration.

It's been given careful consideration. It is no better than previous proposals which weren't accepted, and it creates more problems than it solves.

I'm not psychic, but given that Paizo has not even allowed Hero Labs to be a legal source (a company that they are close partners with), there is no way they are going to allow a piece of paper or a new third-party character site to do it.


GM Lamplighter wrote:


I'm not psychic, but given that Paizo has not even allowed Hero Labs to be a legal source (a company that they are close partners with),

That just isn't the same thing; no one would ever expect Paizo to say "It's okay if you don't buy our products if you buy Hero Lab instead." That would be insanity for them to do, and therefore this point really doesn't have much of an edge, imho.

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

Tabletop Giant wrote:
GM Lamplighter wrote:


I'm not psychic, but given that Paizo has not even allowed Hero Labs to be a legal source (a company that they are close partners with),
That just isn't the same thing; no one would ever expect Paizo to say "It's okay if you don't buy our products if you buy Hero Lab instead." That would be insanity for them to do, and therefore this point really doesn't have much of an edge, imho.

To be fair, Hero Lab does have a licensing agreement with Paizo. So I am sure they get royalties on the Pathfinder Data Packs that Hero Lab sells. Of course, also to be fair, I doubt those royalties are as good as the money they make on the actual books and .pdfs.


trollbill wrote:
To be fair, Hero Lab does have a licensing agreement with Paizo. So I am sure they get royalties on the Pathfinder Data Packs that Hero Lab sells. Of course, also to be fair, I doubt those royalties are as good as the money they make on the actual books.

I am sure this is true all the way through. If Paizo wanted to allow Hero Lab to be an 'official' source, then Hero Lab would have to start charging a heck of a lot more per 'data package'. But then, Paizo would be setting them up as essentially their 'official' store, which is something that Paizo is just not going to do (and wisely so).

As mentioned though, this point is really a distraction from the overall issue. It's just not relevant. Hero Lab not being an official source of content has nothing to do with our problem here.

5/5

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Tabletop Giant wrote:
GM Lamplighter wrote:
I'm not psychic, but given that Paizo has not even allowed Hero Labs to be a legal source (a company that they are close partners with),
That just isn't the same thing; no one would ever expect Paizo to say "It's okay if you don't buy our products if you buy Hero Lab instead." That would be insanity for them to do, and therefore this point really doesn't have much of an edge, imho.

A system that requires using a third-party website to check legality of sources is what I'm referring to. It's not gonna happen. There are at least 3 sites that are already established that could also fulfill this role, and none of them have been authorized either. It's a nice offer, but it's not a realistic solution to the alleged problem.


>>"A system that requires using a third-party website to check legality of sources"

I was thinking more of a "...system that provides the option of using a third-party website to check legality of sources...".

And maybe TTG won't always be third party. Maybe one can dream.

I'm going to go back to data entering Rogue archetypes now. I'll check this discussion in a few days or so.

Sovereign Court

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I don't like the idea of a materials tracking sheet. That means my local VC will have to sit and sign tracking sheets at a con all day instead of running actual games. That's lame. In my opinion this is only an issue if you have really off the wall sources, and in most cases, those are the thinner books anyways. Having the core book, plus 5+ hardbacks is heavy, sure, but that's the price you pay if you're trying to MAXIMIZE.

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

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Quote:

[1] VOs and high stars GM would have the ability to "sign off" on the resources that a player can prove ownership. This means having the book in hand or be able to show a PDF with proper watermark.

[2] This form would have to be updated on a regular basis (annually) but could be updated more often.
[3] If the player purchases a new resource than they would have to bring the book or PDF printout with them until they can get their Ownership Form updated.
[4] Players would need to bring photocopies of the pages in the book related to their character. Failure to bring a photocopy would be the same as not owning the resource.

So Gary, in short, your proposal is to leave things as is, but allow some way for photocopies of books to become legal alternatives to carrying the physical books, similar to how PDF printouts are existing alternatives to having tablets. And this is because, as of right now, some GMs don't allow photocopies. That said however, some GMs clearly do (check out the outcry of GMs and players that are pro-photocopy in that thread).

Now I'd like to draw your attention back to something that was said by Thursty.

Quote:
I just worry that the more emphasis that gets put into this thread and "we want an official answer" the closer we get to an answer... and possibly not one that people will like.

Keeping that in mind, here was Mike Brock's "official answer" to the last thread that centered around validating photocopies. In it, he never once mentions photocopies, instead he reminds folks why torrenting PDFs is bad juju and lets GMs know they are not the Paizo police. So why didn't he mention the issue of validating photocopies? Far be it for me to assume the intention of another through their internet speak, but in my reading, he did.

Quote:
Now, let's go have fun and play Pathfinder and PFS.

I think that is the most important take away here.

Speak with the organizers of your play group and see if they are OK with you using photocopies. Explain your case, maybe show them a picture of your gaming shelf so they believe you own all those books. Speak with your GMs when you sit down at convention tables and explain why you didn't bring all your books, but you did bring photocopies. Or maybe bring a printed purchase history from Paizo, or wherever you ordered your books from. Everyone participating should be mature enough to understand the intention of the guide, which is to a) provide the GMs with the source so they can verify and b) ensure that someway along the line Paizo is making money. And it looks to me like photocopies of the hardbacks you've purchased do that.

I don't think this is something we need Paizo to clarify and it's something that's better left as is. And as Thursty said, if we keep pushing, we might get an answer we don't want.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

Walter Sheppard wrote:

Keeping that in mind, here was Mike Brock's "official answer" to the last thread that centered around validating photocopies. In it, he never once mentions photocopies, instead he reminds folks why torrenting PDFs is bad juju and lets GMs know they are not the Paizo police. So why didn't he mention the issue of validating photocopies? Far be it for me to assume the intention of another through their internet speak, but in my reading, he did.

Quote:
Now, let's go have fun and play Pathfinder and PFS.

That was indeed Mike Brock's official answer to a thread back in 2012.

But in 2013 he clarified his position as intending to exclude photocopies.
And shortly thereafter, in this post (also quoted by Nefreet at the start of this thread), we find

Mike Brock wrote:

Ok, let's see if I can clarify this entire topic for everyone and hit on all the relevant points.

A player must have a physical copy of the Additional Resource in question, a name-watermarked Paizo PDF of the book, or a printout of the relevant pages from a name-watermarked PDF, as well as provide access electronically or a physical copy of the current version of the Additional Resources list, as advised in the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play.

A print out is not a photocopy. It is exactly what it advises. It is a print out from a watermarked PDF that, when printed, shows the name of the person (and their email) on the top or bottom of the page. A photocopy of a physical book that does not show a watermark does not fulfill the requirement. This includes a photocopy of a book you borrowed from a friend, checked out of a library, or any other copy you obtained and photocopied or scanned pages from.

. . .

Any previous rulings by anyone, including me, in this specific matter are null and void. The above is what all participants of the campaign are required to follow.

That makes it pretty clear that photocopies are not officially acceptable as source material.

5/5

Walter Sheppard wrote:
Quote:

[1] VOs and high stars GM would have the ability to "sign off" on the resources that a player can prove ownership. This means having the book in hand or be able to show a PDF with proper watermark.

[2] This form would have to be updated on a regular basis (annually) but could be updated more often.
[3] If the player purchases a new resource than they would have to bring the book or PDF printout with them until they can get their Ownership Form updated.
[4] Players would need to bring photocopies of the pages in the book related to their character. Failure to bring a photocopy would be the same as not owning the resource.
So Gary, in short, your proposal is to leave things as is, but allow some way for photocopies of books to become legal alternatives to carrying the physical books, similar to how PDF printouts are existing alternatives to having tablets.

PDF printouts are now considered 'existing alternatives to having tablets'?

For the record, until about two years ago, bringing an electronic version of a watermarked PDF was not considered acceptable.

Liberty's Edge 5/5 5/5 Venture-Agent, United Kingdom—England—Chester aka Paz

Mekkis wrote:
For the record, until about two years ago, bringing an electronic version of a watermarked PDF was not considered acceptable.

The Guide to PFS Organised Play v4.0 (August 2011) disagrees with you.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

Mekkis wrote:
For the record, until about two years ago, bringing an electronic version of a watermarked PDF was not considered acceptable.

I'm pretty sure you're wrong there.

Guide to Organized Play V4.0 (2011) wrote:
In order to utilize content from an Additional Resource, a player must have a physical copy or a name-watermarked Paizo PDF (or printout of the relevant pages thereof ) of the Additional Resource in question, as well as a copy of the current version of the Additional Resources list.

So a PDF has been an acceptable reference source for at least four years.

Edit: Ninja'd!

Sovereign Court

Mekkis wrote:
PDF printouts are now considered 'existing alternatives to having tablets'?

Printouts of relevant pages from a water-marked PDF is also considered an alternative to having a book. Just sayin'. ;)

As to the photocopy and owned resource list concept, up thread you (Gary) stated that this idea was not worse than the existing process (a point on which I disagree). The point though, is not to implement a change that is "not worse", but that is actually better. In order for that to be the case, as far as I am concerned, it would need to meet the following criteria:

  • reduce, or at least not increase, the work load of the GMs and/or VOs
  • have enough deterrent or lack of loopholes to minimize exploitation
  • have a ready means of verification of ownership of materials
  • have the relevant content for the materials readily available for review if a rules question comes up

What you have suggested covers the last item. And that is it.

Having an additional sheet that would need to be signed off on by 5 star GMs or VOs adds additional work on those folks. Additionally, for those individuals who do not live near a VO or 5 (or even 4)star GM, they would be SOL. So it does not meet item one (and has additional complications I don't think you considered).

I personally do not know the names of every VO (I know, bad VL), 5 star and/or 4 star GMs. If someone shows me a sheet with a bunch of signatures, I have no way to know if they are valid or if the guy just signed off on his own sheet in the parking lot before the game. This would seem to be a pretty big portion of the suggestion you are putting forward that could be exploited. Provide a physical copy or pages from a PDF or don't use the PC or specific ability/item/etc does not have that same level of potential exploitation. As such, your suggestion does not meet criteria number two.

Having a physical copy at the time you are deciding to be audited for material ownership only proves you were able to get your hands on a physical copy that one time, be it from your bookshelf, your buddy's backpack, B&N (and then promptly return it once done). Having a physical copy (or water-marked PDF or sections thereof) at any given time that you may be asked for it is a better gauge of actual ownership. Hence the third item is really not met in a better fashion than the current system.

All in all, I do not see how your suggestion is an improvement over the current requirements. Yes, the PDFs cost extra (unless you are a subscriber), and it is not a requirement to have the PDFS if you have the physical books. Not having to carry your physical books would really be a convenience, and honestly, convenience typically carries additional cost ... Such as purchasing the PDFs.

5/5

If I didn't want to buy (but still wanted to use) the additional resources, I wouldn't go to the painstaking effort of borrowing other peoples' books in order to hoodwink a VO into believing I owned those books.

I would simply use one of the multitude of free online watermarking tools that are out there to provide a much more reliable method of hoodwinking the GMs.

I would argue that if a player has a list that details is or her ownership of materials, and which ones are being used for the character, it would make my job as a GM easier: I might even check players' ownership of additional resources more than once every ten tables.

Have you tried to audit a character sheet for ownership next to a crate of books that the player has brought along?

Sovereign Court

thing is, by this suggested "solution", they would not even have to do that. All they would need to do is write up a list of resources and throw on a bunch of signatures in order to "prove" they are all good on the ownership front.

No solution is going to be foolproof, but which is better, a solution that is overly simple to exploit or one that would require those who would bother to violate the rules to expend more effort? Which one would result in less exploitation?

and while I will accept you may think having an "ownership" list would make auditing easier (I do not agree), the suggested "solution" still falls short of the other criteria and is in fact worse for potential exploitation than the current system.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

In all fairness, it's extremely unlikely that there is any way to provide any solution that satisfies the people wanting something more convenient than the current approach without introducing new loopholes. The question is whether any additional convenience gained is enough to make the anticipated cost of any new exploits acceptable. So far, I haven't seen anything discussed here that comes anywhere close to achieving that.

Equally obviously, people who already have PDFs (and access to a printer, smartphone, tablet, or computer) already have a solution that doesn't necessitate carrying a vast quantity of books. So the problem reduces to trying to find a way for people relying on a physical product not having to carry it with them, while still being able to provide a definitive reference source for the GM.

Three years ago, photocopied pages from hardcover books were often used to lighten the load (including in my own gaming bag!) - while there was no official support for this practice, there was also no official ruling prohibiting it. That changed in 2013, when Mike Brock explicitly excluded photocopies from the list of official sources. So the first requirement is obviously to persuade Paizo to reconsider that decision. I consider it extremely unlikely that there is any chance of this happening. I don't believe this was an arbitrary decision - there are too many ways to get photocopied pages without actually owning the book.

5/5 5/55/55/5

I dunno. If someone is going to borrow a copy of the book to photograph the book with a recent newspaper there's no reason they're not going to run a PDF through a watermark changer.

Sovereign Court

Honestly, for a "hostage photo" to have any weight to it, it would need at least the following three elements:

1. The book
2. An widely accessible newspaper (we're talking NYT, WSJ, WP ... NOT Smallville Gazette)
3. The name of the owner (preferably written ON the book)

Additionally, the photos would need to be recent (updated weekly). And a physical copy of the photo should be required (to avoid possible liability issues if someone's phone/tablet/laptop gets dropped). If the image is more than a week old, the GM should be free to deny the source for the PC.

If those criteria were met, then yeah, perhaps it could be a viable solution. Long term though it is also a more expensive solution that just buying the PDFs ... But that would be the individual's call then as to the preferred route they want to take.

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