Badmouthing our bosses


Pathfinder Society

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Lantern Lodge 5/5

graywulfe wrote:
SCPRedMage wrote:
James Anderson wrote:
My first interaction with her was as the GM on Night March, where she's trying to help a retired pathfinder.

That was my first interaction with her, as well, and she did not make a good impression.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

Scrolls/wands of (non-personal) protective spells is the first thing that comes to mind.

1/5

BlackOuroboros wrote:

Honestly, I don't respect most of the VCs because they don't do anything respectable; honestly, most of the time they don't do anything at all. Frankly, a vast majority of them I couldn't care less about them one way or the other because they are one note and don't add any anything meaningful other then a bit of exposition at the beginning and, maybe, at the end; they could easily be replaced by "Biff the Understudy" for all that they add to the game most of the time.

Off the top of my head, I can think of three that I actually care about in any appreciably way: Zarta (because she's a cool and interesting character), Aram Zay (because I love to hate him), and Grandmaster Torch (because I thought he had some real points until events occurred...). All of them I interacted with OUTSIDE of the normal briefing, so I got an actual look at their character and interacted with them as individuals instead of mouthpieces. The worst example of this is the Ten, who as near as I can tell are so completely fifth-wheel irrelevant that I don't think I've seen them do a thing once in the two years I've played PFS.

So why should I respect these guys? Almost all of the characterization they receive mostly comes from community memes. Now, I'm sure that these characters are, in fact, fully fleshed out; however, as a player, I've never seen it in game because it's likely hidden in some backstory paragraph that is totally irrelevant because it never comes up.

So, how do we fix this? One option would be to give them a more active role in scenarios but I think that might be difficult to do without overshadowing the PCs or eating up a lot of time. I think a better option would be some web fiction through the eyes of some of the characters so we can get some sort of insight into them. I would LOVE to read a Zarta short story or two.

I get your point and I partially agree. Part of the problem is that using the VCs can be very tricky with out making the players feel like they do not need to be there. There also seems to be a real risk that any RP encounter degrades into combat.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Serisan wrote:
graywulfe wrote:
SCPRedMage wrote:
James Anderson wrote:
My first interaction with her was as the GM on Night March, where she's trying to help a retired pathfinder.

That was my first interaction with her, as well, and she did not make a good impression.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

Probably rope

... Seriously you don't have rope on every character... I am at a loss to how to react. This seems like a straight forward purchase. Every character I have has rope.

EDIT: Just want to be clear I am not trying to insult or attack anyone. I just literally can't imagine not having these items.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Jeff Hazuka wrote:
graywulfe wrote:
SCPRedMage wrote:
James Anderson wrote:
My first interaction with her was as the GM on Night March, where she's trying to help a retired pathfinder.

That was my first interaction with her, as well, and she did not make a good impression.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

Scrolls/wands of (non-personal) protective spells is the first thing that comes to mind.

I never even thought of that, but yeah that might have been a good idea.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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TOZ wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:
But then, they get the reputations they earn.
Not necessarily. Osprey was bad-mouthed up and down to me, and I bought into it until my characters actually encountered him. Public opinion is not always based in fact.

Osprey is fine except for that one scenario where he sends you on the mission to find the macguffin, then shows up at the end, takes it from you, and flies off in bird form, leaving you a LONG way from home. -_-

Dark Archive

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graywulfe wrote:
Serisan wrote:
graywulfe wrote:
SCPRedMage wrote:
James Anderson wrote:
My first interaction with her was as the GM on Night March, where she's trying to help a retired pathfinder.

That was my first interaction with her, as well, and she did not make a good impression.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

Probably rope
... Seriously you don't have rope on every character... I am at a loss to how to react. This seems like a straight forward purchase. Every character I have has rope.

Especially Dark Archive characters.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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godsDMit wrote:
Osprey is fine except for that one scenario where he sends you on the mission to find the macguffin, then shows up at the end, takes it from you, and flies off in bird form, leaving you a LONG way from home. -_-

It builds character.

4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
godsDMit wrote:
TOZ wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:
But then, they get the reputations they earn.
Not necessarily. Osprey was bad-mouthed up and down to me, and I bought into it until my characters actually encountered him. Public opinion is not always based in fact.
Osprey is fine except for that one scenario where he sends you on the mission to find the macguffin, then shows up at the end, takes it from you, and flies off in bird form, leaving you a LONG way from home. -_-

There's also Encounter at the Drowning Stones where

Spoiler:
he sends the players a note saying they have several hours to prepare for a mission before meeting him at bar for a briefing then at the briefing it's pretty much I hope you're ready for the jungle I made no mention of before you're teleporting in immediately.

He's still one of my favourites for some reason.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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To address the main problem VCs...

Shiela Heidmarch is the kind of boss that her employees would be requesting transfers from her lodge or straight up quitting to the point where somebody would need to have a word with her about driving people off or the number of agents she was getting killed.

Canayvan Heidmarch feels like he got a promotion cause he's Sheila's husband and otherwise they wouldn't have promoted him.

Drandle Dreng is more of a sad case than someone to have contempt for. IRL comparison, he's probably that higher up employee who has started show his age. He's becoming more forgetful, he's taking more personal time off due to his health (he cant even finish the briefing in one scenario, and then he was completely gone for more than a year), hes waking employees up at unnecessary times, and doing questionable things in general (don't get me started on Wounded Wisp). Basically, he likely was once a very valuable employee, and sometimes still is just cause of the amount of experience he has, but he's quickly reaching a point where he will become a liability to the Society opposed to asset.
I realize this may not be the portrait that was attempted to be painted for him (as I have no idea what his actual age is supposed to be, other than "He's gray headed"), but these are the kinds of things the scenarios make him look like.

Bahb Jonquet is a real jerk sometimes. And he's bald! And....Oh, this is only supposed to be about in-game VCs? Uh...oops...

4/5

graywulfe wrote:
Serisan wrote:
graywulfe wrote:
SCPRedMage wrote:
James Anderson wrote:
My first interaction with her was as the GM on Night March, where she's trying to help a retired pathfinder.

That was my first interaction with her, as well, and she did not make a good impression.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

Probably rope

... Seriously you don't have rope on every character... I am at a loss to how to react. This seems like a straight forward purchase. Every character I have has rope.

EDIT: Just want to be clear I am not trying to insult or attack anyone. I just literally can't imagine not having these items.

Depends on the character. My 14th level psychic does not have rope. He's got flayleaf, so obviously he cares about one type of hemp, but no rope. For virtually any use of rope, he has a non-rope solution that he's happy to employ.

Honestly, "do you even have rope?" is becoming the singular test for Pathfinders anymore. I mostly said it as a joke in my prior post.

4/5 ****

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Rope is reasonably heavy, I've had to skip it on several low str characters.

The Exchange 5/5 RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Regarding Arim Zey: to me, a lot of his character comes across in Seekers of Secrets, where we see a couple of the amazingly useful spells he's invented and made freely available to the Pathfinder agents.

Yeah, he talks a sarcastic stripe, but he has proven that, where the rubber meets the road, he's done some work to make sure that agents return to the Grand Lodge alive.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Pirate Rob wrote:
Rope is reasonably heavy, I've had to skip it on several low str characters.

I just realized that I am taking this thread way off topic, sorry:

That is what the mule is for. Yes you don't take the mule on the adventure but it explains how you are carrying so much between adventures. During the adventure hopefully someone will carry yours if no one else has rope.

EDIT: I guess it should be stated that for low str characters I buy a mule or other pack animal.

After all I can not carry everything I own personally, why would my character limit himself that way...

Anything else about this should probably go to its own thread.

Liberty's Edge 5/5

The VCs do not require us to understand their reasons and motivations, as long as they are doing right by the goals of the society. That is their job, not babysit us. Every one of the Venture Officers should be assumed to be in absolute control and none of us should ever question any of their motives.

Except Torch, he can burn in the nine hells for what he did to the Society. That is why I am here, to root out weasels like him before they again make a mockery of our leadership.

P.S. - Everybody should carry rope. Without rope how do you propose to hang the guilty?

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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Really the only two VC's I have every had an issue with are Aram Zey and Sheila Heidmarch. Aram Zey could be seen as eccentric, except that when characters surpass him, he continues to have the same attitude. While he isn't terrible, he is a pretty toxic leader and it's not hard to see why he is rather off-putting to people out of character as well as annoying in character.

Sheila is a bit different. Right up front it was indicated that she was only a noble and a pathfinder due to her marriage, and has fairly routinely displayed incompetence and the need to put herself and political career far above pathfinders needs and concerns. As other have mentioned, the fact that she has had at least three completely different stats and representations in Pathfinder doesn't help, though I'm specifically speaking of only what I've encountered of her in Pathfinder Society play. I also sort of suspect that her husband can't stand to be around her, (he is almost never there either), which again, just doesn't speak well for the character to me. She really comes off as "Yah, I'm not even really trying here. That would mean I have to actually work and leave the air condition, and that's what you re for.". In her case specifically, being in the military and having seen "leaders" like this, it might a bit of personal bias, but for me, I am honestly not sure if there is a way this NPC could ever be "redeemed". The damage has been done, more than once.

Drandle Dreng I've actually always liked. I've honestly never heard anyone "bad mouth" him in or out of game except as a joke, and it mostly is about his timing, but at the same time he did seem like the kind of guy that knows a lot more than he appears to, but wants to have others build their confidence and earn their glory rather than being incompetent, selfish, or a jerk to compensate.

As for fixing the problem, or shifting it, my honest suggestion would probably be to introduce new characters and start highlighting some of the "problem" people less. Not completely, as different folks have different problems with different NPCs. But, instead of trying to stealth errata them, which is already doomed to fail, (or will lead players to suspect something else is going on), instead start bringing in NPCs that are less toxic and off-putting and encourage the sort of respect you want from players and characters.

On the other hand, is it really even a bad thing that players/characters get to tell off bad VC's? As a game that is all about escaping reality and stepping into someone else's shoes to do things many people can't do in real life with minimal consequences, sometimes returning shots fired is a pretty fun rp encounter that makes a scenario memorable. Particularly when those VC's are not actually your boss or hold any actual authority over you.

It's not an uncommon troupe in action movies to have the hero cop tell their superior to F' off, and then go do what they where just ask/told to do anyway.

Another suggestion for the cultural shift might be to start removing (downplaying???) the idea that VC's are in charge or the boss, and start presenting them as individuals that open doors or grant opportunity. This is actually something I've always found odd, as none of the material on the Pathfinder Society I've seen actually claims that there are military-like ranks of authority within the pathfinder Society, but PFS play seems to have assumed so for some reason. VC is more of a job description than a title of nobility.

I've seen this beginning to show up more in the last few months (year?), where the briefing seem more of a request then a demand, and it's very clearly been a good thing.

The entire blunder with Grandmaster Torch and the Shadow Lodge is probably the one thing standing in your way for this, and again, it's sort of too late to change that. People that have been playing for a few seasons (and hell, honestly since Hestram and season 1) kind of know just how despicable and nasty the Pathfinder Society organization really is and what it will do to those it can't control, but also that organized play can and will use the heel-toe method of storytelling.

Grand Lodge 5/5

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In addition to thinking its fine for both characters and players to have a problem with the in-game leadership and how they handle things, I also think it's fine for the leadership to appropriately respond to that criticism.

A couple years back, one of our regular players made a character who he decided hated the Society and just took the job for the money. He would mouth off during every briefing about how the Society was stupid, how the VC was useless, etc. It got quite annoying. He had played the character through several scenarios doing this, and I then decided I would keep a list of the scenarios in which I was personally aware that he had done this, and which VCs were assigning him on missions in those. He would get a couple strikes on each of those VCs, and after that, if he sat down to the table for a mission in which a VC with whom he had struck out was sending the players on the mission, they would inform him that he would need to find a new VC to work under, cause they wouldn't have him.

Example: He keeps being a jerk to Sheila, then anytime I ran a scenario where Sheila is the VC, I would tell him that Sheila refuses to send that character. Pick a new character or another scenario to sit at. Basically in-game consequences for his in-game actions.

It never got to that point as I think he stopped playing the character so antagonistically, but I felt it was a just decision at the time.

1/5

I wonder if the gimmick just got old, or if someone had a talk with him.

Grand Lodge 5/5

Nohwear wrote:
I wonder if the gimmick just got old, or if someone had a talk with him.

Not sure. I had informed my wife and a mutual friend of his and mine of my intention (as the three of us were the primary GMs for the region at the time), so one of them might have mentioned it to him. TBH, I may have scolded his character as one of the VCs before then. Don't remember if that happened or not. :P

Silver Crusade 3/5

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My opinions on VCs:

I actually like Aram Zey and his annoyed-at-everything-attitude. Though yeah, I would hate him as an actual real-life boss, but at least he has a personality. He gives roleplaying opportunities. It does help that he has shown up so many times. Sorrina Westyr is kinda...bland as replacement, she hasn't really anything that I spesicifically remember about her personality-wise.

Drandle Dreng is funny, though yeah, it might be cool if we actually found out if he is going senile or just obsfuscating stupidity. There have been hints about his hidden depths for so long, so pay-off would be nice.

Calisro Benarry is cool I'd love to see more of her. Same goes for Kreighton Shaine, I like interacting with him.

It's been long time since I saw Sheila Heidmarch, though she didn't leave a lasting impression. Ambrus Valsin has also been a similarly blank slate for me.

1/5

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Not everyone works at Paizo, John.

Badmouthing bosses is nothing too unusual ;)

Having said that, if certain characters generate strong emotions (positive and negative) in players, hasn't the designer/developer done something right?

Lantern Lodge 5/5

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Memorable, favorable:
Holgarin Smine: ("Go be Pathfinders!", and "While disappointed the PCs don't ask questions, he provides answers anyway.")
Jorsal of Lauterbury: (The intro to Siege of the Diamond City was awesome.)
Oriah Tolal (She's only shown up once, but she reminds me of what Drendle Dreng is supposed to be- -old, wise, kind of badass, willing to actually help mechanically (She offers to cast spells for the PCs))
Calisro Bennarry ("You're going into the Gloomspires. Have some rum. You'll need it.")
Valais Durant (Though I've only met her once and haven't played the newer scenario with her; "I'm the only Pathfinder still at this lodge, so this is my lodge.")
Grandmaster Torch** (Actually provides intelligence, items. Has plans. Treats PCs with respect, which goes a long way.)
Gauril Karela (His part in Paths We Choose was pretty awesome. Trouble in Tamran no less so.)
Wullessa Yuul (I want to see more of her. Repeats "don't break anything" three times before scenario where collateral damage earns a penalty. Has a "I can't wait to see what happens" giddy attitude when collateral damage is inconsequential.)
The Enigmatic Osprey: (Sure he was kind of a flighty sort, but that's okay, 'cause he's sometimes a bird.)
Aya Allahe/Nieford Sharrowsmith ("I'm not willing to get my hands dirty."/"I am.")
Kreighton Shaine: (Especially in specials!)
Amara Li: (I will never not like Amara Li.)

**:
Rivalry's End is so out of character I choose to ignore it.

Memorable, unfavorable:

Sheila Heidmarch: ("Hey, I bought some golems, but couldn't open the boxes for them. Do me a solid?"; "Go help this sleepwalking Pathfinder. I need some good PR.")
Drendle Dreng: (Never really shows the competent side of what I imagine is a ruse.)
Aram Zey: (I imagine this one is intentional. Also, much more sympathetic at higher levels and in later seasons. Enough that I was sad to see his fate. (Though happy to help cause it, as well.))
Bakten (At least until his arc finishes, then he gets into the above tier. "Annoying until you find out why.")

Unmemorable (which is the worst):

Adril Hestram: Can anyone tell me a single thing about AH that they learned before a particularly noteworthy sequence of events?
Ambrus Valsin: As far as I can tell, the most personality he's ever spoke with was at the end of Siege of Serpents when he said "No."
Canayven Heidmarch: Still not convinced he isn't Sheila in disguise.
Brackett, Alyssa Moldreselva, Basia Kalistoff, Dennel Hamshanks, Norden Ballentir ("Here's a mission, I'm out.")

4/5

John Compton wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:
I understand your feelings, John, but those two Venture Captains, in particular, have earned their scorn. Sheila established herself as very casual towards the lives of agents under her command and all-too-ready to commit crimes against innocents. Dreng has never done much to earn anyone's respect.
What are a few things that Dreng would need to do or contribute to in order to earn someone's respect—minus his appearing slightly more presentable?

Buy an gosh darn alarm clockwork golem, one that would let him sleep at night and only summon pathfinders at a decent hour.

2/5 *

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I seem to remember a lot of " well we were going to send competent pathfinder , but they are busy" type of briefings which makes it hard to like your leadership.

5/5 *****

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Gamerskum wrote:
I seem to remember a lot of " well we were going to send competent pathfinder , but they are busy" type of briefings which makes it hard to like your leadership.

I ran Sniper in the Deep recently and this is pretty much exactly what Adril Hestram says. Given this could easily be a group of level 9 Pathfinders who could quite conceivably murder him in the face it didn't seem too bright.

But then, that's Adril all over...

4/5

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I rather liked Shevala Iorae, who to the best of my knowledge, we have only met in 6-17 Fires of Karamoss. She seemed like a genuine scholar with a specialty, which was refreshing. She made useful suggestions when asked. And she helped the PCs understand the magnitude of their victory in the end, if they hadn't quite figured it out for themselves, and gave them praise. As she is Absalom based, it would certainly make sense to see her more often.

Edit: I also really enjoyed playing Basia Kalistoff in 6-23 The Darkest Abduction since her picture is the best "resting-b*-face" I have ever seen on an NPC and its clear one must use their best Natasha "moose-and-squirrel"-accent for her. I felt some respect for her since she has a hard job rebuilding the Society's standing in Ustalav after her cousin's mistakes.

1/5

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Am I the only one who likes Marcos Farabellus?

And I don't have a strong negative opinion about the VCs. I even find Dreng interesting because I can't decide if he's really incompetent or he's just using underhandes methods to get you to do his bidding which is different and refreshing imo.

3/5 *** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

Jeff Hazuka wrote:
Adril Hestram: Can anyone tell me a single thing about AH that they learned before a particularly noteworthy sequence of events?

Honestly, I would love to see a scenario play out describing what happened to cause the fallout between Nigel Aldain and Adril Hestram. Its kind of hinted that those two did something together but its never acknowledge what.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

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I thought Hestram was one of the nicer VC's during scenario briefings and his "bear-ing" is hard to forget. Cheerful, to-the-point, and a bit over-bearing(sorry). Then there's his Frozen Fingers posse who are both very memorable.

"A few weeks in the sun, seeing the sights of the desert. A dream assignment."

4/5 5/5 * Contributor

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At least for me, Kreighton Shane, Drendle Drend, and Shelia Heidmarch are the most memorable of the PCs. Their quirks help to distinguish them from virtually every other VC, who's mostly no-nonsense all-business.

I can't think of his name, but I'm a big fan of the VC from Oparra, the one who runs the Bait and Tackle Shop. Who throws his neck on the line trying to help you out in Dalsine Affair.

I think that's sort of what people are looking for—VCs who appear on-screen doing things for or with the PFS. (Another awesome example is the understandably creepy VC who recently reappeared in Thralls of a Shattered God.)

4/5 5/5 * Contributor

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If Paizo had the resources, short stories that "bridge the gaps" between scenarios that feature the VCs doing cool stuff would be neat too. Like a bridge between Blakros Connection and Abducted in Aether from Shane's point of view as he searched the planes for [REDACTED].

4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Massachusetts—Boston Metro

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To provide an example about a Venture Captain that I really enjoyed recently and think is a good example of how to make characters actually like (or at least tolerate) their VCs: Wulessa Yuul

Between The Lines:
Throughout this scenario, Wulessa is certainly not without her flaws. She is impatient and frustrated at the briefing, hints at being willing to be fine with the PCs using morally dubious methods to get what she wants, and her recklessness eventually puts herself and the PCs in mortal danger.

But what made her become my favorite Venture Captain in this scenario is that these personality flaws made her relatable. She is introduced yelling about the incompetance of another VC, but what Pathfinder hasn't been frustrated by one of those (isn't that what this whole thread is about?) Her rush to use the book is based out of genuine excitement for new knowledge, which is something that all Pathfinders should share. And in the scenario's second half, she recognizes her own mistakes and owns up to them. She acknowledges she messed up, helps the party as best she can given the circumstances, and in turn the PCs get a glimpse at her own backstory that fleshes out her character.

In terms of trying to improve player's opinions of the Society's leadership (in-game of course), I would look to this scenario as a good guideline moving forwards. They can sometimes send you into danger less prepared then you should be, but have them realize that and apologize for it. Give them a life outside of or before the Society, so they have a character instead of a speaking style (As mentioned above, Dreng's use in School of Spirits is a nice case of this working in a small quick way). And they can dislike some of the ways the Society shares duties just as much as we do - let them vent a bit and the character can chime in with their own gripes.

Scarab Sages

I have actually been at tables that have ignored Drendle Drang and asked for another VC thier opinion on whats going on,
Aram simply was murdered at a table next to me one time, the PC's had enough and went nova on him.
The Paracountess was arrested and sent back to House Thruune where she was sent directly to hell. [An Entire Table Of Hellknights, decided they had enough and we all had fun doing it, the GM rolled with it, and gave us the mission anyway though we told him that we were ready to fail the mission no xp no gold and everything.]

Drundle Drang needs to show that hes not senile and or SAVE OUR LIVES, before he will earn any respect, once characters hit Level 12 or higher, the VC's need to start ASKING for our help, they need to start being respectful, and need to know thier place. Which is middle men for what we do, the table can simply murderhobo all over the VC, and get away with it at this level, so something NEEDS to be done about thier attitude.

3/5

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Alexander Augunas wrote:
If Paizo had the resources, short stories that "bridge the gaps" between scenarios that feature the VCs doing cool stuff would be neat too. Like a bridge between Blakros Connection and Abducted in Aether from Shane's point of view as he searched the planes for [REDACTED].

A product I would purchase, although I have no idea how you would keep it clean of spoilers while still delivering.

Dark Archive 4/5 5/5 ****

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It is my theory that Drandle Dreng has spent a good amount of effort to portray himself as a doddering old fool. Sort of like Belgarad in the Eddings series... it was a conscious decision to make people underestimate him.

4/5 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Finland—Tampere

Gamerskum wrote:
I seem to remember a lot of " well we were going to send competent pathfinder , but they are busy" type of briefings which makes it hard to like your leadership.

I, on the flip side, recall a lot of missions where you have to clean up after a less competent crew (or even rescue them), or the party's best-suitedness for a mission is called out otherwise. Most of these are higher-level scenarios, but sometimes at low levels the fairly high anonymity of the agents is called out as a positive. Can't recall a specific scenario that does this, but they're out there.

1/5

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Why do my characters dislike most of the VC's and upper echelons of the society? They treat the agents with contempt, send them on suicide missions and never have enough intel.

Of course that makes for easy scenario design but it makes for lousy character development.

Further, Venture Captains and other ranking members of the society have a habit of turning out to be villains so any experienced player will have a very jaundiced view of most of them. It is one thing to have evil members of the society but an entirely different thing to have many scenarios about high ranking members of the society betraying it. It colors the perception of the leadership of the player base.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Jeff Hazuka wrote:
Aya Allahe/Nieford Sharrowsmith ("I'm not willing to get my hands dirty."/"I am.")

One thing I wanted to point out here is that in every scenario I've run or played with Aya, she isn't even a Pathfinder, much less a VC, as much as she is trying to help keep Nieford's "side job" going and help out a friend.

I haven't seen her in a while, so that might have changed, though.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ***** Venture-Captain, North Carolina—Central Region

I would definitely love the opportunity to show my players Drendle Dreng finally letting loose, if he is indeed just using obfuscating stupidity as I've been hinting to them all along. Or, if he really is just an eccentric, nearly "put out to pasture" old Pathfinder, let us see him in his heyday via the Sky Key or something.

The one they really seem to have trouble with is, sadly, Kreighton Shaine. Something about him holding that rose in his art has apparently placed my players regard for him somewhere between crazy old hippie and constantly high college kid. Two recent scenarios where he shared the briefing with Zarta haven't helped, since she gets to provide the more specific (and thus useful) information.

Other personal favorite VCs:

Holgarin Smine Jokes about being the 8th dwarf aside, he's actively helpful, especially when he gave (scenario-crucial) information even if the players didn't ask about it.
Calisro Bennarry Very well written. Bennarry definitely gives off the right feel for a VC who used to be in the PCs shoes. Even when ferrying them to somewhere other than her primary area of interest, she makes sure she has useful intel. The Grinning Pixie Gift Shop and General Store (TM) doesn't hurt either.
Eliza Petulengro Yes, she's abrasive in some early scenarios. Maybe it was just my GM, but rather than being offended, she left my characters with a "Underestimate me, will you? I'll show you!" attitude.

Silver Crusade 4/5 5/5 *

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Hmm.. wonder if people would have more respect if there was the equivalent high level send in the VCs scenarios to see what they are capable of as high level one shot characters in the same way the Aspis side has been done for the last few seasons.

I mean even if they died in the mission, which Pathfinder faction would not be paying for the raise and retrieval (wait don't answer that one ;) )

4/5 5/55/55/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Minneapolis

I would have more respect if briefings didn't wait until it was an emergency.

I realize that it was an early season, but briefings like happen in Penumbral Accords show bad leadership skills. You know there is a problem for a long time yet don't brief people until the night that something has to be done? It isn't like it was even something where the schedule or situation suddenly changed. The briefing made it sound as if people in the society were aware and had been asked to aid weeks before anything had to be done.

Save the emergency meetings for when something has suddenly changed about the situation or they had no way to anticipate what was to happen.

Sovereign Court 4/5 5/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Netherlands—Leiden

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I'd like to start with saying that I enjoy Sheila, Aram and Dreng as NPCs, even though many of my PCs dislike them. Love to hate is good, if it isn't used for every NPC.

  • Dreng - I liked the peek behind the facade in Wounded Wisp. It would be nice to see him really demonstrate that he takes advantage of people underestimating him. Imagine a confrontation where the party is on the streets fighting off feel foes and a fleeing "beggar" pushes a powerful weapon into their hands. Or Dreng after being "rescued" having overheard a lot of prize intel, and then remarking on how much it had been to ensure he got captured by exactly those people at the right time. Take a look at how agent Romanov in the first Avengers movie is introduced.
  • Sheila's really crossed a moral horizon in Race for the Runecarved Key - we never really got a good explanation why this particular relic was so much more important than any of the other magical WMDs we recover from time to time. "It was especially shiny" doesn't really justify the unusually shady jobs given.

    That said, I think it's good for the campaign to have a few rotten apples in the VC corps. It provides contrast for nicer VCs, especially if writers are willing to occasionally have other society bigwigs admit that they don't always agree with Sheila's tactics.

  • Aram is indeed rather toxic, but stuff like Aram Zey's focus reveals another side of him. Maybe part of him doesn't like getting emotionally invested in people likely to die. And he's just the guy who doesn't like to do social stuff, would rather be "doing real work". I think he's valuable for embodying the gruff wizard archetype and making Shaine look nice.

In summary, I think it's good to have flawed VCs, although it's best if all of them have and occasionally get to show redeeming features, to make them plausible as leaders.

In addition, I think modern scenarios have been making strides forward in making the VCs look professional. For example, you don't get gotcha'd anymore by heat/cold/altitude risks that the VC refused to warn you about even if you asked. Briefings tend to contain enough of the Why that you can form reasoned guesses about unexpected turns (which helps with figuring out what would help or harm secondary success). And the occasional care package of actually useful items like in Infernal Inheritance also buys our goodwill :P

Grand Lodge 3/5

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Since I didn't see her come up... I always really liked Calisro Benarry. She's the, "Hey, I found some cool s**$ and I can't go in myself because I'm super busy, wanna go check it out?! :D" I went through school for archaeology, I can relate to the desire to go explore some cool thing and be really excited about it (admittedly, IRL we left the antiquarian period ages ago because it's horribly destructive, but this is a game).

A lot of folks seem to groan when they hear the name of her ship at the start of a scenario, but I never understood why...

Shadow Lodge 5/5

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Here's what I think it is an essential part of the discussion regarding the opinion of VCs - the presentation of the intelligence regarding what they're sending us into. The problem isn't a lack of intelligence though, it's not even an issue with the quality of what they do have. No, the problem is how the VCs deliver this information.

How many times have you heard the following?

"Hey Sheila, what important information aren't you telling us about the mission we're about to go on?"

We don't ask this question for our health. Well rather, we probably do ask it to assist in our continued living state. And joking aside, it comes from the known issue that more often then any of us would like, critical information is located in the Q&A from the Pathfinders to the VC. We're going on a rescue mission - awesome. Why didn't you tell me it's to rescue 3 Pathfinders, who they are, why they are there, and what they look like?

Spoiler:
I'm looking at you Rebel's Ransom.

Sometimes this lack of information is well presented.

Spoiler:
Orders from the Gate is a superb example of this.

But the former is just not appropriate. I get cutting word count, and keeping exposition to a minimum, and engaging players. I do. But, the VC should be our resource into lore we may not know, not into elements of the mission we should know. If I had my druthers, all of the Q&A involving mission parameters would be part of a far more designed interactive experience with questions from the VCs better leading questions from the players. Maybe a dossier, I don't know, but not the limited distribution of information we have now.

IMHO, if we're looking at the reason why we don't trust our VCs, this is really fundamentally the gist of it. They know things and only tell us the answers if we ask. But it should be the exception rather than the rule that some key tidbit is located in the Q&A.

1/5

Landon Hatfield wrote:

Eliza Petulengro Yes, she's abrasive in some early scenarios. Maybe it was just my GM, but rather than being offended, she left my characters with a "Underestimate me, will you? I'll show you!" attitude.

After a certain series of scenarios I find it hard to underestimate her.

BTW while doing my best to avoid spoilers that is how a VC should be written, show up, inform you that all is lost unless she and you do something ridiculously dangerous together and then proceed to do something crazy together.

4/5 5/55/55/5 *** Venture-Lieutenant, Minnesota—Minneapolis

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Seems a lot of people are missing the most obvious indication that Dreng is not a bumbling fool, likely because they missed the roll and have never GMed this scenario.

School of Spirits:
If the PCs wish to identify Dreng’s uniform, they can attempt a DC 12 Knowledge (nobility) or (local) check. If they succeed, they recognize that it is a dress uniform of a junior officer in the Taldan Navy. If they succeed by 5 or more, they also recognize that he is wearing two service medals: a Combat Action Ribbon and a Counter- Espionage Ribbon, the latter of which is rumored to only be awarded to members of the Lion Blades, Taldor’s secretive espionage organization.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 **** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East

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BretI wrote:

Seems a lot of people are missing the most obvious indication that Dreng is not a bumbling fool, likely because they missed the roll and have never GMed this scenario.

** spoiler omitted **

I never took that to mean it actually belongs to him.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

5 people marked this as a favorite.
James Anderson wrote:
I never took that to mean it actually belongs to him.

Then he is doing his job exceptionally well.

1/5 5/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
BretI wrote:

Seems a lot of people are missing the most obvious indication that Dreng is not a bumbling fool, likely because they missed the roll and have never GMed this scenario.

** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
So... homage to Jack Ryan from 'The Hunt for Red October', then, but ONLY if you happen to have that one skill and make the roll?

That's pretty obscure and it's no wonder it gets missed. We didn't pick up on it during our run if memory serves.

Shadow Lodge 4/5

MisterSlanky wrote:
James Anderson wrote:
I never took that to mean it actually belongs to him.
Then he is doing his job exceptionally well.

Meh. . .

4/5

Wei Ji the Learner wrote:
BretI wrote:

Seems a lot of people are missing the most obvious indication that Dreng is not a bumbling fool, likely because they missed the roll and have never GMed this scenario.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

That's pretty obscure and it's no wonder it gets missed. We didn't pick up on it during our run if memory serves.

Very few characters have that knowledge in that tier.

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