Best advice you never got


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What not to do at a stop light.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Lemmy wrote:

3- Learn to Improvise and Be Willing to Adapt. Your players will often surprise you with completely unexpected ideas. Learn to accept them and mold the story around their choices instead of forcing their choices to match your preconceived script.

This is my Number One rule.

That's the essence of GMing.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Haladir wrote:
TOZ wrote:
This is where I plug Minimus.
I got 404'd with that link...

That'll teach me not to check old links. Looks like I need to update!

New and improved link.


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Haladir wrote:
TOZ wrote:
This is where I plug Minimus.
I got 404'd with that link...

That's the point, Haladir! The game is so minimalist, it doesn't even exist!


Haladir wrote:
DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Lemmy wrote:

3- Learn to Improvise and Be Willing to Adapt. Your players will often surprise you with completely unexpected ideas. Learn to accept them and mold the story around their choices instead of forcing their choices to match your preconceived script.

This is my Number One rule.
That's the essence of GMing.

Too bad more GMs don't get that.


As a player, there's power in considering your party as the combat unit rather than each character as the units. Instead of asking "How can I destroy this encounter and be THE BEST," ask "how can we the party tackle this challenge." Making a god slayer OP character is fine but it's more important what you do with them. Much more satisfying to organize or ensure a coordinated full party stomping of an encounter, rather than gun for "MVP."

As a GM, understanding your PCs will kill your bad guys in really anticlimactic ways. And also keeping a variable challenge level works great; there have been many times where my players thought they were facing a TPK but got through it easily, and vice versa. Keeping that level of tension is great so players are always on their toes.

Silver Crusade

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GMing takes time and practice to get good at. While you're learning (and you'll probably always be learning), you do not have to be the best GM in the world. You need to be a good enough GM that your players have fun.

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

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Helel13 wrote:
As a player, there's power in considering your party as the combat unit rather than each character as the units. Instead of asking "How can I destroy this encounter and be THE BEST," ask "how can we the party tackle this challenge." Making a god slayer OP character is fine but it's more important what you do with them. Much more satisfying to organize or ensure a coordinated full party stomping of an encounter, rather than gun for "MVP."

Ah, this reminds me of another piece of "advice" I had to learn for myself:

Pathfinder as a system is built in such a way that the answer to "How can we as a team best work together to overcome this obstacle?" is quite often "By each of us maximizing our own individual power." There are no "free" abilities in Pathfinder, and abilities that can set up your teammates for success are generally hidden behind prerequisite walls that are often much more costly in proportion to their power than basic non-team-oriented abilities. On the rare occasion that something teamwork-oriented gets published that could even theoretically be as effective as spending the same resources on your own power, the community cries "OP!" and it later gets modified to either cost more or provide less.

If you want a game where the whole really can be more than the sum of its parts, Pathfinder's not the best system to use.

Liberty's Edge

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Jiggy wrote:
Helel13 wrote:
As a player, there's power in considering your party as the combat unit rather than each character as the units. Instead of asking "How can I destroy this encounter and be THE BEST," ask "how can we the party tackle this challenge." Making a god slayer OP character is fine but it's more important what you do with them. Much more satisfying to organize or ensure a coordinated full party stomping of an encounter, rather than gun for "MVP."

Ah, this reminds me of another piece of "advice" I had to learn for myself:

Pathfinder as a system is built in such a way that the answer to "How can we as a team best work together to overcome this obstacle?" is quite often "By each of us maximizing our own individual power." There are no "free" abilities in Pathfinder, and abilities that can set up your teammates for success are generally hidden behind prerequisite walls that are often much more costly in proportion to their power than basic non-team-oriented abilities. On the rare occasion that something teamwork-oriented gets published that could even theoretically be as effective as spending the same resources on your own power, the community cries "OP!" and it later gets modified to either cost more or provide less.

If you want a game where the whole really can be more than the sum of its parts, Pathfinder's not the best system to use.

I think you're both right.

Jiggy is absolutely correct in a character-building sense (Outflank and a couple of other Feats aside), but Helel13 is also correct in a party coordination and tactics sense.

I've seen significantly less than optimal parties do much better than individually better optimized ones just due to a lack of party coordination on the part of the latter. Melee characters holding actions until after the Wizard fireballs the enemy, or until after the Bard casts Haste, just for one simple example example.

Now, that doesn't really effect how to build an effective character at all, but it sure effects how to play one.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Never be afraid to be the sensible guy keeping the escape route open.

Seriously. Sometimes the best thing your character can do is be ready to help everybody run away from that dragon/lich/Great Old One they overestimated their ability to deal with.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Haladir wrote:
DungeonmasterCal wrote:
Lemmy wrote:

3- Learn to Improvise and Be Willing to Adapt. Your players will often surprise you with completely unexpected ideas. Learn to accept them and mold the story around their choices instead of forcing their choices to match your preconceived script.

This is my Number One rule.
That's the essence of GMing.
Too bad more GMs don't get that.

Sometimes they do get it, but have trouble translating it into action, especially if they're new to GMing. I know that more than once, the party has done something completely unexpected, and I've had to go, "okay guys, that's cool, gimme a couple minutes to figure out the implications and we'll be good to go."

So don't be afraid to do that! Obviously you should be as prepared as possible, but you can't always plan for everything. Players would rather give you a minute to re-configure things than have you shoot down their idea. (At least, mine would.)


1- Don't work around the rules: If you're trying to go around the rules, the DM will make a change, and everyone will be sad.
2- Develop your character: having goals and a past goes a long way to make your character believable.
3- Don't make your character too crazy: More a personal choice, but one of my most memorable character is a generic mage. But he has a personality that makes him unique.

Grand Lodge

Here are two that really helped me:

A great way to run a campaign (for busy adults)

And...

Stop trying to win (play a fun personality instead of a min-maxed stat block)

Got a lot of hate/disagreement for these ideas here on the message boards, but they both work quite well in practice.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

My response remains the same.

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

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Headfirst wrote:

Here are two that really helped me:

A great way to run a campaign (for busy adults)

Oh hey, that's one I favorited! That was a good list; I'm glad you posted it. :)

Quote:
Stop trying to win (play a fun personality instead of a min-maxed stat block)

This one was kind of sad to read though, as it demonstrates an inability to cope with the idea that a character more powerful than yours might simultaneously have just as interesting of a personality as yours. So instead of seeing other people having fun and deciding to be happy for them, your response was to pretend that character power somehow implied an underdeveloped personality so that you could find an axis on which to be superior.

"Best Advice I Never Got": The above attitude exists in this hobby. Had I learned in advance that if the power of a character I played ever exceeded that of my neighbor's, then he's as likely as not to assume I'm trying to beat him or that I have no interest in my character's personality/motivations; then I might not have ever bothered with RPGs in the first place. In fact, it's part of why I quit PFS, though it's not yet bad enough for me to quit the hobby entirely.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Another attitude that exists in this hobby, regardless of where you fall in any dispute: Prickly defensiveness over what is, at the end of the day, a game you're playing for fun.

So some advice to go with that: Don't be afraid to remove yourself from groups that aren't fun for you to play with (as Jiggy has evidently done).

I've had great gaming groups by my standards. I've had terrible gaming groups by my standards. And the best thing I could do all around was leave the latter and show up for the former. Different people play the game in different ways- there's no "right" way to do it, beyond making sure everybody at the table is enjoying themselves.

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

Yep. I eventually noticed (with some help from my insightful wife) that PFS was providing more stress than fun, so I quit. Been a lot happier since. :) Even so, I still wish the best for the folks who are still able to have fun through that medium; it's okay for different people to have different preferences/priorities/thresholds.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Jiggy, I have a chill Roll20 crew for private PFS if you want to try again.


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Death is ok on both sides of the screen. As a player you should get used to the idea that your characters are only mortal. As a GM it's okay to kill a few every now and then, especially if they did something stupid and deserve it.

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

TriOmegaZero wrote:
Jiggy, I have a chill Roll20 crew for private PFS if you want to try again.

Thanks, but other factors in my quitting included the Pathfinder system itself.

Shadow Lodge

I understand the individual words but put together like that all I read is gibberish. :)


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Your manager considers your survival and well being a secondary consideration to their performance review


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90% of your deeply thought out and lovingly written character background will never come out in the game. 100% if you are playing PFS.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Neriathale wrote:
90% of your deeply thought out and lovingly written character background will never come out in the game. 100% if you are playing PFS.

.... but it's still worth doing if it informs how your character acts. ;)

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

Cole Deschain wrote:
Neriathale wrote:
90% of your deeply thought out and lovingly written character background will never come out in the game. 100% if you are playing PFS.
.... but it's still worth doing if it informs how your character acts. ;)

Dunno about you, but I write very differently based on whether the goal is to produce a story for someone else to read or to produce a set of guidelines for my own roleplaying. Thus, knowing the above in advance is pretty useful. :)

Shadow Lodge

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Never forget, your character is just paper. No matter how much you love your creation, you will survive when they retire or expire.


Do not marry yourself to a class. My first PF character was a Monk, but - especially in 2010 -there was nothing it offered that couldn't have been better achieved by another class.

Conversely, Bards have a unique shtick they do better than anyone. The jack of all trades stereotype is just nonsense that leads a lot of people to (falsely!) conclude they aren't really worth playing.

A simple, oft tread story told well is vastly superior to a complicated, original story too dense to convey easily. "Save the townsfolk" sounds dull, but it's one line of many potential chapters.

Doing the most damage is generally the most useful, but it's rarely the most fun.

Strong, silent types can work - but they probably won't.

Grand Lodge

As a player do NOT forget about the basic adventuring supplies and abilities. I have lost count of the number of times I have used +50ft of rope and a grappling hook. Having Alchemist's Fire lets you set things on fire quickly. 0 Level spells which appear at first to be useless are in fact some of your more useful abilities.

The Game Master is also playing the game, even if he is not a PC. Go easy on them so they don't get burned out. If you are constantly frustrating your Game Master then they are going to quite and then their wont be a game.

The Game Master can not "win". You are all playing the game together, getting a TPK or doing other things to beat down the players is just frustrating.

As a Game Master, don't be afraid to say NO, but you also shouldn't say YES to everything. If the player asks to do something and they are just asking for 1 thing, then there is might no harm is saying yes. But you always need to consider the long term ramifications of what every the player is asking.

Scarab Sages

"No gaming is better than bad gaming."

I didn't "never" get it, but it might have been a great help to me if only I'd gotten it several years prior.


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Giving a character a nickname really helps people remember them. I had a elf wizard with a elven name. After a... unfortunate situation involving a certain bread and meat combination, an angry half-ork, a failed acrobatics role, and a (now burned down) tavern, his nickname was "The Sandwich Mage", or "Sandy" for short. But by god did he earn that nickname, and no one (left alive) ever forgot it.


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:

"No gaming is better than bad gaming."

I didn't "never" get it, but it might have been a great help to me if only I'd gotten it several years prior.

Corollary: consider carefully what is 'bad' gaming - just because it doesn't check off all of your gaming boxes doesn't mean you might not actually enjoy it if you relax and let yourself.


The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy wrote:
Don't Panic

It's been mentioned, but I think this particular quote cannot be quoted enough.


As a GM, it would have been nice if someone had mentioned:

First, always split the gold evenly. That means automatically selling the items at half base value, and having each player buy things they want out of the kitty by paying half base value. If more than one player wants an item, have them dice off for it.

Second, if you are going to have restrictions on what players can run, do so at the very outset, BEFORE they get the idea in their heads that they can run something ridiculous and useless (think Gordo Sheckberry of KoDT fame). Saves much angst in the long run.


OMG piccolo you sweet namekian named ghoul thing your first note about loot is brilliant imma do that from now on.


Vidmaster7 wrote:
OMG piccolo you sweet namekian named ghoul thing your first note about loot is brilliant imma do that from now on.

Don't forget, everyone in the party gets an equal share of the loot. You automatically sell off all the loot at half base price (except for the one shot items like potions or charged items like wands) to get the total loot. Then anyone who wants to get an item out of the kitty has to pay the half base price of the item. If more than one player wants an item, they dice off for it, or come to some other agreement.

Silver Crusade

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The Usual Suspect wrote:
Never forget, your character is just paper. No matter how much you love your creation, you will survive when they retire or expire.

Blackleaf! No!


lucky7 wrote:
The Usual Suspect wrote:
Never forget, your character is just paper. No matter how much you love your creation, you will survive when they retire or expire.
Blackleaf! No!

I never got over her death.


If possible, try to have 5-6 players. That way when some of them don't show up, it's not going to end the game session. Typically I don't run a game with 3 or fewer players. If there's only 3 players, I sometimes ask one of them to try running two PC's, but only if those extra PC's are simple to run, like a Fighter.

Try to have everyone show up at least 75% of the time, and if they can't, consider booting them. You need players that actually show up!

Also, insist on players telling you at least a day in advance so you can call the other players and tell them they might not be having a game because too few people will be coming. Remember, as GM you are doing this not for yourself, but for your players who are dedicated to showing up and playing.


Try to get your players to do things with you and each other that have nothing to do with Pathfinder, like going to the movies together. This will end up forming a more cohesive, longer lasting group, and thus more fun.

Every group needs a treasure list person. This is somebody who writes down the loot haul, and then helps the GM figure out how much gp each group member gets. Typically this is the more serious player, one that you might be grooming to become a GM someday. Classes these people choose are typically primary spellcasters, like Wizards and Clerics. If this player also takes Crafting feats, all the better so that you can figure out what each PC can afford and then make them some new magic items.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Do NOT sell your first born for a natural 20, with your luck it will only be for a knowledge check anyway.


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Stop building characters to fulfill a string of feats. Instead, build characters in response to what happens in the game. Your PC will live longer and you'll have more fun. For example, if your GM likes to run in the horror genre, you will probably need Iron Will instead of that feat chain you've been eyeing.


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The arcane caster is better than you, just find the one thing you can do better than it and hope the GM lets you do it often.

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

Piccolo wrote:
Stop building characters to fulfill a string of feats. Instead, build characters in response to what happens in the game. Your PC will live longer and you'll have more fun. For example, if your GM likes to run in the horror genre, you will probably need Iron Will instead of that feat chain you've been eyeing.

Or maybe the next campaign you switch GMs and discover they like pitting you against large numbers of weak enemies, so you'll want Whirlwind Attack instead of Iron Will. Too bad you weren't eyeing the feat chain four levels ago when you needed to get started in order to be able to get Whirlwind Attack any time soon.

Oops. Maybe Toughness?

Scarab Sages

Jiggy wrote:
Piccolo wrote:
Stop building characters to fulfill a string of feats. Instead, build characters in response to what happens in the game. Your PC will live longer and you'll have more fun. For example, if your GM likes to run in the horror genre, you will probably need Iron Will instead of that feat chain you've been eyeing.

Or maybe the next campaign you switch GMs and discover they like pitting you against large numbers of weak enemies, so you'll want Whirlwind Attack instead of Iron Will. Too bad you weren't eyeing the feat chain four levels ago when you needed to get started in order to be able to get Whirlwind Attack any time soon.

Oops. Maybe Toughness?

Well, to be fair, no one has ever looked at a character sheet and thought "man, I wish I didn't have so many hit points."

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

Belabras wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Piccolo wrote:
Stop building characters to fulfill a string of feats. Instead, build characters in response to what happens in the game. Your PC will live longer and you'll have more fun. For example, if your GM likes to run in the horror genre, you will probably need Iron Will instead of that feat chain you've been eyeing.

Or maybe the next campaign you switch GMs and discover they like pitting you against large numbers of weak enemies, so you'll want Whirlwind Attack instead of Iron Will. Too bad you weren't eyeing the feat chain four levels ago when you needed to get started in order to be able to get Whirlwind Attack any time soon.

Oops. Maybe Toughness?

Well, to be fair, no one has ever looked at a character sheet and thought "man, I wish I didn't have so many hit points."

True, but plenty have looked at their character sheet and thought "Man, I wish I'd known that I'd be wanting this feat back when I still had a chance to meet the prerequisites and start the chain".

Which leaves me really curious why Piccolo thinks picking all your feats on the fly and never planning ahead for feat chains is going to consistently provide the most fun. Either he seriously misunderstands the Pathfinder system, or he's really generous with letting his players rebuild (or skip prereqs). I'm really hoping the latter; that probably would improve the game a great deal. :)


My Self wrote:
What's the best, most useful, or favorite piece of Pathfinder information you found out by playing and experiencing, instead of from the message boards or as advice from other players/GMs?

Play the character you really want, not the one encouraged by the GM (or fellow players or guides).

At my first group I wanted to play a rogue and got the job. Since I played halfling rogues in video games before, I wanted to go gnome for a change - but the GM said 'rogues should better be halflings'. Which makes some sense mechanically but I missed out on gnomish magic tricks and roleplay potential. I still play this halfling rogue and he got some depth but I still wonder whether gnome would have been better.

My second group was worse. The GM came up with the classical 'oh, the group needs a healer'. So he proposed druid, a class I never really liked (weird mix of powers with boring nature theme on top). But I wanted to help out, so I agreed. I tried to move closer to my preferences by picking Fire domain over an animal companion - which made things worse. Well, I stayed for like 5 sessions.

A few campaigns followed, and I defended my character concepts against resistance from both GMs and fellow players. I took care I didn't steal someone else's role, but I no longer felt bound to clichees, 'best choices' or imagined needs of a party (I looked for real ones though). And the characters turned out much better than before...


SheepishEidolon wrote:
Play the character you really want, not the one encouraged by the GM (or fellow players or guides).

I can't agree with this enough. If you don't want to be the Rogue, the Wizard, or the Dog Catcher, don't. Play what you think will be the most fun for you. Sure, you might make a mistake and the character not work out, but for that shining moment you were what you wanted to be.


Best piece of advice I can give a new PF player (wish someone had told me this before I tried playing a Fighter):

NEVER play a character that doesn't have magic, or at least some nifty spell like abilities. PF favors casters so heavily that playing a non-caster character is just frustrating and may kill your fun. 4-level caster is the minimum.

Second best piece of advice I can give a new player (again, wish someone had told me this before I played a Fighter):

If you insist on playing a martial character, you need to be prepared for casters to do everything you can do, but better.


Always, always, ALWAYS get a master crafter potion belt. A Swift action to chug a potion could mean the difference between rolling a new character or not.


berserker444 wrote:
Always, always, ALWAYS get a master crafter potion belt. A Swift action to chug a potion could mean the difference between rolling a new character or not.

In what book is this item located?

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