Balancing out spotlight at a table


GM Discussion

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 *

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So this keeps coming up a few times where we have a mix of skill levels at a table, and I'm really looking into advice to GMs to help keep games a bit balanced.

Most of this is either a new player or a kid at the table and people wanting to keep them involved, and regretfully at the expense of a more experienced player.

Recently things like letting the person they are trying to get involved to do most of the knowledge checks and an investigator with knowledges just auto aiding instead of rolling or participating. When it came to combat, having the player in an area that became difficult terrain, where the combats end before they get to even be in range to be involved.

I'm not talking about here it's part of the scenario that you make them shine and others later, but every single roll, where the player doesn't even bother to pick up their dice at all. Role play is also directed at the younger, or newer player to the full exclusion of the older players unless it's to make a cultural joke based on their character to try and introduce them to the setting.

Given having a relationship with a GM that has done this, and being a GM myself I'm honestly trying to find advice for this.

I'm not against putting the newer or younger player in the spotlight, but advice to people who would be more focused on these players (yay getting people involved), to not lose the rest of the table that didn't come with them to make them not feel like a pre-gen added to the table.

4/5 *

If you notice things that a GM is doing that bothers you, you should talk to that GM. In PFS, a GM can't just add difficult terrain to a combat, and they certainly can't tell a PC what they're rolling. Be up front about your issues, and remind them that PFS strives for a similar experience no matter who the GM is. If one GM make changes like this, it causes problems.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Dm yourself and shrink the table size. It's the only cure.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 *

Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
GM Lamplighter wrote:

If you notice things that a GM is doing that bothers you, you should talk to that GM. In PFS, a GM can't just add difficult terrain to a combat, and they certainly can't tell a PC what they're rolling. Be up front about your issues, and remind them that PFS strives for a similar experience no matter who the GM is. If one GM make changes like this, it causes problems.

It's why I'm asking for any advice from GMs to other GMS that have experienced this. It's something they've done subconsciously, and its been more than a few GMs that this has happened with. I've talked to a few of them and most of it falls under its something that is either unknown table control issues or subconsciously doing this.

I just used the last session as the launching point to the discussion because it was the closest concrete examples I could add. If the other people made the knowledge checks I didn't mind letting people have moments in the spotlight, but 2 hours in and your not doing anything becomes the why am I here (and its not, here's a physical pc in a social situation, it was social pc in a social situation). Regarding why the checks were ignored, was so that the rest of the table didn't think I was cheating with a level 5 straight investigator with a leaning towards knowledge skills. (average was 20s-low 30s, base 10 across the board d20+d6)

Personally I've hit this the same way I've done the over boisterous player at the table, and specifically ask at a general interval each player to input something into the game. I'm not 100% sure why this hasn't worked for people that do the subconscious focus on the new player.

If it's a newer player I've seen the RP 'mentoring' approach from other PCs work. I also have seen this never works if your not part of the group sitting down that has a kid in it. It's just various shades of awkward even if your trying to RP showing them something similar their classes have in common.


Your issue depends on the scenario, who is attending, the amount of players, if people are playing out-of-tier, and the amount of min-max players. I've faced this before and I've decided to just personalize my sign in sheet for all of my future games. My goal is to learn as much as I can about the players before the game starts to make a better experience for all.

Part of my sign in sheet includes a column for this question: What would you like out of today's game? I list a few options (combat, roleplaying etc.) to help players select and prioritize their choices.

From this as well as other questions, I basically determine (1) what skill/class based roles will apply to players, and (2) where I can better tailor the game for all. This also helps portion out segments of the game to actively flag for others what they can expect so that boundaries aren't overstepped by new players, overly helpful players, loud players etc.

However, my warning is that this approach means you as the GM will take more time in preparing the scenario. My second warning is that you will not generally be able to overcome higher level players out of tier, or those playing with illegal/overpowered mechanics by sticking solely to the text of the scenario (or consequently those self-sacrificial folk who just can't help themselves with helping others).

This is because with the benefits of the complexity of the Pathfinder system, there are faults of imbalance inherent to structure of having so many variables in a communicative setting.

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