What do GM Stars signify to you?


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Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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One of the things that I’ve been chewing over lately is that GM Stars mean different things to different people. I have always seen them as a metric of quality where you start taking on more and more complex games as you progress, because that’s what I largely see in Minnesota. The five stars I met there are all kick ass, and I think that’s partially because the VOs mentor GMs quite a bit as they progress.

My friend, Paul, who I respect greatly, has a different vision. He sees Stars as a mark of service to the campaign. They measure hours of work providing games to others.

Then I’ve heard others like Tallow, who is one of the best GMs that I’ve played under, talk about five stars in terms of rules expertise — something in which I consider myself competent, but hardly expert.

WHAT DO STARS MEAN TO YOU?

  • Commitment to the campaign
  • Rules expertise
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Something else that I haven’t listed?

MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT DO YOU THINK STARS SHOULD MEAN?

If we want them to mean something different than a quantitative commitment of service, how do we measure that?

If we’re growing and changing as a campaign, what would you want it to mean to be a five star GM? No answer is bad. We all come from different cultures of PFS, and I want to hear everyone’s viewpoint here.

Hmm

4/5

I've earned some stars over the years, and I'm slowly working towards my fifth. I see it as giving back to the Society. Since I'm able to run a game, I will every so often. Over a hundred scenarios run (four stars) mostly makes me more able to just run with it and continue to make the scenario work when the PCs decide to do something off the wall or someone brings in a character who can do unusual things. It also gives the experience to know when it is more important to take the time to look up a rule and when it is something relatively minor and not worth disrupting the pace of a scenario. An example of that last was "Wow. Somebody just died to a level draining gase attack. Let's make sure I had that absolutely right."

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Quantity has a quality all its own

4/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Quantity has a quality all its own

I see someone is familiar with the Red Army :)

The Exchange 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Belafon

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What I think stars should mean:
1 to 4 stars:

  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

3/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

I have 3 stars currently, closing in on 4 (most from tabletop, but some from PbP as well). To me its a function and measure of experience. Like any vocation, those with more experience are more likely to produce higher quality output, but also have certain obligations to train the apprentices.

My experience gives me the confidence with the mechanics of GMinig enough to focus on the storytelling aspects of the game, which should make the game more enjoyable for everyone.

Have seen newer GM's struggle with the mechanics and prep so much that the game became about the mechanics and not a story. -- just about modifiers and rules. That gets so much better with experience.

So seeing multiple stars on a tag, I expect the quality of the game to be much better than those who are still novices and learning their way.

I also think those with the experience have the obligation to give back to those who are not so veteran, to teach and guide them along the way.

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

Kevin Willis wrote:

What I think stars should mean:

1 to 4 stars:
  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

Pretty much this.

5/5 Venture-Agent, Texas—Dallas & Ft. Worth aka Azothath

Stars represent both commitment and GM experience over a range of play styles.

It's a mix as there are great 1 & 2 star GMs. It is not a new game.
Experience with diverse gamers and challenging builds really helps to build competency and handling differing personalities and goals at the table within the time allotted.

It would be hard to GM 150 games and not have local VOs at your games. Conventions also bring various VOs from other areas to your table and vice versa.

The Exchange 1/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

For me the Stars represent time devoted and given back to our great hobby which is represented by PFS as well as system expertise. As was stated, quantity is a quality all its own. I find this expressed as not only game system mastery, but also mastery of scenario composition, or the "been there seen that" in society play. I don't believe that Stars in and of themselves make you a great GM, but they are a yardstick of competence and do assure others that in the pursuit to attain 4 or 5 Stars your system mastery will/should have increased due to the repetition of play if nothing else.

I have GM'd multiple systems of RPGS for over 40 years and PFS while similar is also a very different animal in many ways. Some of my GM skills do carry over though.

Two of the greatest compliments I have been given as a PFS GM were, one when after thanking the table for playing in my 1st PFS table ever, they all sat there with shocked looks on their faces and then began to say things like, "NO WAY! You did great! WOW your first table really?!"

The second was at my last CON, where a seasoned player as well as a multi star GM asked me after the session, "How many stars do you have?" I replied that I was between 1 and 2 and he was shocked. He complimented me on my RP, improvisations, and how great I did running the scenario. It really meant a lot to me!

I feel I am a competent GM that can give players a fun, inclusive and involved game experience. I know I have a lot to learn and lots of system mastery to gain as well. I know I love my hobby and the chance to give back and make people happy at my table. My first PFS GM was outstanding, and is still one of my favorites to play with, summed it up like this, "If you guys have had fun then I have had fun and my job here is a success!" That is how I feel and what I want to convey to the players at my table.

The Stars, Novas and whatever PFS2 do-hickeys will come in time, don't sweat it! Just have fun and do your best to give a fun experience to others and you will be a great, successful GM no matter how many do dads your card has on it!

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Getting up at 4 in the morning, taking a cab, a ferry, two trains, and a walking stick to get to the convention to wrack up some specials.

Moonlight walks getting my leg working to test if i could get from the train to the con.

A national lampoons geek trip, where a downed power line had me at the train station at 2 in the morning, falling over on the way to the train station and once there, alternating between trying to stop an incident from going violent and just falling asleep with my pocket knife in my hand so anything that was going to happen was going to happen to someone else. Followed by a night in the port authority

4? years of running weekly games with friends in the comic shop, and trying to stuff enough scenarios in my head to run plans A, B, C and oh hell because the plan could change 3 times on the drive up.

Dark Archive 4/5

Kevin Willis wrote:

What I think stars should mean:

1 to 4 stars:
  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

I'll 3rd this. I think rather explicitly that observation requirement for the 5th star is a certain level of quality control and a check against the possibility of just wracking up a bunch of tables while not developing much as a GM. In general just running more tables will tend to improve a GM, but it is not guaranteed.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Kevin Willis wrote:

What I think stars should mean:

1 to 4 stars:
  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

I agree with this assessment. And one would hope after running 150+ games, that they would exhibit some level of rules competence.

What does rules competence mean? Not necessarily having a mastery of the rules system or having an encyclopedic memory of rules. Rather, a good enough understanding of the rules that you a) feel confident knowing who at your table knows the rules and deferring to their interpretations, b) know where to look rules up in pretty quick order, and c) know how to adjudicate situations that aren't covered directly in the rules by using the rules set to help inform you on what is reasonable and balanced.

As to the "creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment" item above:

I think that knowing that you shouldn't be running on 11 hard mode all the time, that based on who's at your table, the makeup of the characters, and the specifics of the scenario, its ok to run at 4 or 5 and not use advanced tactics to try and obliterate the characters. I've had several convention situations where the GM just didn't understand the concept of "you don't always have to do the most nasty thing you can as an NPC." And I've had GM's that use the most dangerous interpretation of tactics, because they still have a GM vs. player attitude.

So part of gaining stars, should represent an evolution of GM experience in how to read your table and run a game appropriately to that.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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Davor Firetusk wrote:
I think rather explicitly that observation requirement for the 5th star is a certain level of quality control and a check against the possibility of just wracking up a bunch of tables while not developing much as a GM.

This was certainly the original intent behind the observation table. But in practice, I can probably count on one finger the number of GMs that were refused based on their observation table game. Maybe less than 5 where the VO told the GM they wouldn't preside over an observation table for them.

There was a big hubbabaloo in the VO circles about denying the observation table or the 5th star. Some felt strongly that if they didn't feel the GM deserved the 5th star, for whatever objective reason they had, then that GM shouldn't get the star, and shouldn't be allowed to go to another region to get a VO to preside over that observation table. There were others that felt the observation table was just a formality (some even thinking it should just be done away with altogether... after all, VO's know their GMs quite well and should be able to just make the determination without a special table.)

There was no real consensus, except that in very extreme circumstances, one VO denying an observation table did not mean no other VO could preside (some VO's exhibited insulted attitudes when a good convention friend of theirs--whom they thought was a good GM--was denied and the VO in question asked the VO corps to deny as well.) I think the majority (although it may have been a slight or even resigned if vast and/or consensus level) determined that the observation table was just a formality, but necessary so the player could have a celebration (much like a birthday party).

Sovereign Court

I agree with Kevin Willis on what stars should mean.

I would also like to add that making a 5th star really special would set apart the people who GM a lot vs the people who GM a lot AND really well and that is something I personally value.

I believe there should be a way to differentiate between a game run by June Soler (who runs a fantastic game and is highly dedicated to PFS) and Joe Schmoe (who is dedicated to PFS but is consistently mediocre) on paper. My worst game of PFS was with a 5 star and I was disappointed more by the "false advertising" of what I believed 5 stars to mean than that I had a bad game.

While certainly people will be upset if they are denied their 5th star, frankly, I think people have to be denied for a 5th star to really matter. Why should stellar GM #1 continue to put in the time and effort to be stellar when there is no way to distinguish them from blah GM #2 who has run 150 cold scenarios and they are seen as the same? Especially with 4 stars available to earn through dedication, 1 star as a way to be extra special seems reasonable to me.

5/5 ⦵⦵

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1 to 5 stars shows GM experience in Organized play. I think most people with 2+ stars will always have a good grasp of the rules and the unwritten rules of how organized play works. 5 stars usually shows a quality GM since they had to get a sign off to get the 5th star, but it doesn’t reflect who are the best GM’s.

Someone with 3 or more stars shows someone who enjoys GMing.

To me stars are loosely related to quality of a GM overall. There are great GM’s that built their GM experience in home games and have no or little stars. There are great GM’s and low quality GM’s at all star levels.

For me GM quality has to do more with game prep, enjoyment of GMing, avoiding and or resolving conflict peacefully, ability to read emotions of players at the table, having good social skills, good role playing skills, setting the scene with enough detail to have the players understand what is going on, making the game give the appearance of being challenging, and game pacing matching time requirements or players preference. Someone doesn’t have to be great at all of these but at least at a moderate level at each one.

The Exchange 5/5

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[IMHO- what follows is just my opinion]
GM stars are something that appear on the PFS Messageboard... and most of their "significance" is just on the board.

And on the posting boards it will often become front and center, usually in a "bad way". (For example when they are used to give weight to a "bad" viewpoint. The classic line "not at MY table" isn't used by someone with 0 to 1 stars.) But at the game table? heck, I (almost) never notice them. In fact, about the only time it comes up is when someone has to do a "Shirt Re-Roll" as a player... and even then I'm often shocked at how many/few stars the player has... ("He has 4 Stars?! really?! Sorry to hear that - that many people got stuck at his table..." or "She only has 2?! that can't be right, I know she runs all the time and she's REALLY GOOD!").

I mean, it's not like we wear our "star level" on a badge at the game table (and please no. That was NOT a suggestion). In our regular groups we all can tell at a glance who are the "good judges" and the "bad judges" or even who is "good" early in a CON and whose table you want to avoid late on Sunday.

Yeah, there are local 5 star judges I know will drive people away from a table just by signing up on Warhorn to judge it. Who I have heard other players advise Newbies to avoid... And there are players who will get peoples to come out to a game day by just saying that they plan to try their hand at judging - "working on that first star". "You're running? what? I can burn a re-play to be at that table!"

does my opinion carry more weight because I have 4 stars? I would post it without the stars if I could, as I don't really want to influence your opinion just because I've run a bunch of games...

Scarab Sages 3/5 Venture-Agent

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Kevin Willis wrote:

What I think stars should mean:

1 to 4 stars:
  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

I also agree with this. I do believe that the 5 star confirmation table should be more than just a formality. All the 5 star GM's that have run for me have been excellent, and I would be really disappointed if that was ever not the case. I believe the original requirement where there was only person who could confirm your 5 star status was too strict, because we don't want to exclude a great GM because they live in a remote area and/or can't travel to major Cons, but I do think it would be reasonable and beneficial that the it at least be someone other than your local VO. I feel like having someone who can more objectively sit and evaluate you as a GM based on the your ability to demonstrate the qualities listed in Kevin's quote here is important. I personally don't think I'll ever be up for a 5th star, but if I was I wouldn't want that table to be a formality.

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

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That I've got too much time on my hands...

2/5

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Stars mean commitment to service in the organized campaign, to me.

The are not, to me, any indicator of quality, expertise, or rules authority.

You can run 100 poorly prepared sessions and need to look up the rules every time on every situation--on PbP, you can even do this all at once (OK, the example I'm thinking of was only 25 sessions all at once)--report them all (even if the module didn't run *quiet growling*), and BOOM! You're a 4 star GM.

I've got 30 years of GMing experience, 10 years with D&D 3.5 and then Pathfinder, but only 1.5 years with PFS. Based on the feedback I've gotten from my players at GenCon and local play, I've got some measure of quality and rules mastery. However, I haven't given back much to the organized play campaign, so I have 1 star (...2 if you count GenCon's missing sessions).

Silver Crusade 5/5

DM DoctorEvil wrote:

.

I also think those with the experience have the obligation to give back to those who are not so veteran, to teach and guide them along the way.

I'd be very careful with the "obligation" word here. Saying that if you volunteer more you are "obliged" to do still more seems very wrong to me.

Clearly it is a good thing if they CHOOSE to teach and mentor others.

Silver Crusade 5/5

nosig wrote:

does my opinion carry more weight because I have 4 stars? I would post it without the stars if I could, as I don't really want to influence your opinion just because I've run a bunch of games...

Stars denote experience with PFS if nothing else. So yes, stars DO influence how much weight I give to some arguments. An argument starting with"in my experience ..." has inherently greater weight from a 5 star GM than a 1 star one

With this specific post your stara aren't really relevant

2/5

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Wait, they aren't to track TPKs? That explains why I only have 2.

;)

The Exchange 5/5

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Paul Jackson wrote:
nosig wrote:

does my opinion carry more weight because I have 4 stars? I would post it without the stars if I could, as I don't really want to influence your opinion just because I've run a bunch of games...

Stars denote experience with PFS if nothing else. So yes, stars DO influence how much weight I give to some arguments...

I am sorry to hear that.

Please try to only give my opinions the same weight as you would those of someone with no stars, as I feel my 170 or so games run in PFS are vastly less important than my 40+ years of running role playing games (doing everything from CON organizer thru flunky door prop - "chief cook and bottle washer".)... but heck, when all is said and done, it's all just my opinion. Which often disagrees with the established norm.

1/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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I believe 5-stars should signify a champion of the community who has shown a consistent display of taking personal responsibility of elevating the society and ensuring healthy positive experiences for all its members. A role model clearly and consistently motivated by the betterment of organized play.

I am fortunate to see perfect examples of this at my local lodge.

However, I've also seen examples on these forums and elsewhere that left me disappointed.

Sovereign Court 5/5

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I think I need to pick up an autograph book and start collecting autographs for all the 5 star judges I meet...

Yeah, and maybe buy them a soda/adult beverage of their choice. And say thanks!

On reflection, maybe not just limit it to the 5 Stars... just get an autograph from all the judges who run games for me. And buy them a drink...

Dark Archive 4/5

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nosig wrote:
Paul Jackson wrote:
nosig wrote:

does my opinion carry more weight because I have 4 stars? I would post it without the stars if I could, as I don't really want to influence your opinion just because I've run a bunch of games...

Stars denote experience with PFS if nothing else. So yes, stars DO influence how much weight I give to some arguments...

I am sorry to hear that.

Please try to only give my opinions the same weight as you would those of someone with no stars, as I feel my 170 or so games run in PFS are vastly less important than my 40+ years of running role playing games (doing everything from CON organizer thru flunky door prop - "chief cook and bottle washer".)... but heck, when all is said and done, it's all just my opinion. Which often disagrees with the established norm.

I think the internet bit you here nosig. Stars are not any guarantee of quality, but if the only piece of information you know about 2 random strangers is how many stars they have it is very rational to give more stars more weight in an argument about rules. Nothing in the post said that they automatically won or deferred to them in an argument. I've GMed tables with 4 and 5 star GMs arguing about rules interpretations. Knowing that one person has run a lot of tables and another has not should give them a bit of credibility, again not a guarantee. Obviously any other number of unknown factors can influence a persons credibility.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Most of the people who post in the PFS forums have 3 stars and above, so I don’t look at stars when I weigh people’s comments on here. I was a pretty good GM before I got my first star, and one of the things that I liked from the beginning was that everyone seemed to take my feedback seriously from the get-go.

Here are some things that make posters more creditable to me:

1) Have they played or GMed PFS? Seriously, I hate it when people gripe about PFS and I see that they have no PFS aliases. It makes me cranky.

2) Are they consistently helpful?

3) Are they polite and considerate to everyone — newcomers, staff, each other?

4) Does what they say make sense?

5) Are they talking about something that I know they know something about? (Some of that is past history, some of that may be from current details in their post.)

6) Do they offer specific details in their commentary, questions, suggestions?

7) Do they give back to the community in some way?

8) Do they make me laugh — not by belittling people, but by pointing out the ridiculous in a kind way?

These are the things that will cause me to give more weight to someone’s posts on these boards. Nosig, you won me over as a poster because you consistently care about those whose voices may be underreppresented. You care about those you play with, and those for whom you GM. Yeah, I don’t agree with some of your stances, but I don’t have to do so. Diversity of opinion is one of the things that makes these forums interesting and useful.

Hmm

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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I can give a little history lesson with regards to the star program having been one of the original recipients of the status and one of the people who "advised" the Campaign Coordinator (now called the Organized Play Manager) on the purpose and parameters early on. I hope my memory serves me as I've slept a few times since all this started. :-)

Spoiler:
Keep in mind that when the program launched there were only four stars and it took 100 games to qualify. Only one person in the world qualified as a 4 star and that was Doug Miles who, IIRC, had roughly three times as many sessions reported as anyone else. At the time, there were only like 4-5 of us that were at or near 90 games reported. I believe Doug received the first 4-star status award at PaizoCon in 2010. Doug is largely in retirement, but had he kept up the breakneck pace he would easily be over 2000 games GMd by now and perhaps more. He is/was a phenomenal GM as anyone who ever even watched his games, let alone played at them, can attest. If there is anyone in our community that would be the "poster boy" for what a GM and organizer should espouse, its him. He also started most of the practices that are commonplace at most conventions we organize.

At that time there was a requirement for you to be reviewed by a Paizo staffer which significantly limited getting your 4th star approved. I was the second person to have 100 games reported followed very quickly by Kyle Baird, Jason Roeder, Stephen White, and Todd Morgan. However, Kyle and Jason were the 2nd and 3rd official recipients as they attended PaizoCon 2011. I had to wait until Gen Con 2011 as I could not attend PaizoCon. I believe Todd was just short of making it at PaizoCon and had to wait until Gen Con. Stephen was at an even bigger disadvantage as he lived in Australia and it wasn't until Feb 2012 before a Paizo staffer could make it down under to review him.

It wasn't too long after that the program was altered to add the 5th star and granting approval authority to existing 5-stars. It just wasn't reasonable for Paizo staffers to attend enough events to keep that aspect (not to mention how busy they are at most conventions) and we saw the number of qualifiers coming up that it would have been a disservice to make them wait until they could be reviewed by a staffer.

Originally, the stars were intended to simply demonstrate longevity and commitment to the campaign. Though we did recognize that achieving the coveted (4th)5th star was going to be a big deal and wanted to have at least some process to vet them on the off chance that they somehow managed to run that many games with players keep coming back and still be a poor GM.

As time evolved, a level of assumed quality became part of the program because naturally if you run that many games, you really cannot help but get better at your craft. In fact, talk has come up from time to time to eliminate the "observation" table. What your thoughts are on that usually follows your thoughts on the reward being simply a measure of quantity or if you believe if also demonstrates quality. If the former, the review table is unnecessary. If the latter, its imperative.

The problem with putting too much emphasis on stars indicating quality is it discards the experience of a GM outside of organized play. GMs like myself who have been playing this game since the time of leisure suits and disco balls probably already had enough quality to be a 4/5 star GM from the start. So for us, the stars are much more about quantity than quality. Sure, we continue to improve as hopefully everyone does over time, but not as much as others. For those who cut their GM teeth in PFS, the stars may very well be an indicator of quality. I've seen a HUGE improvement in those who never GMd a game in their life, maybe never even played an RPG before PFS, who went thought the process and earned their 5 stars. I am proud to have been a mentor to some of those people and I hope that all GMs, 5-star or otherwise accept some level of responsibility to "pay it forward" when it comes to their GM peers.

In the end, despite what the program was intended to do, I think we cannot dismiss the fact that many in the campaign place a least some level of quality expectation when they see stars next to someone's name. Some expect those people to be the very best of our GM pool and probably rightly so. We've evolved past it being simply a measure of games reported. To many it means so much more. So, while I wish it were just a measure of "time served," we cannot dismiss the fact it is also a measure of quality. Which is why a bad experience at a 5-star table seems so much worse than "normal" and why a great experience at a 5-star table is sort of the expectation and not as amazing as one at a "normal" table.

I honestly don't know how to resolve this with respect to the transition from 1E to 2E, but we have to be careful not to put too much emphasis on carrying stars over, while also not dismissing them entirely. Personally, I don't care. For me stars are a byproduct of what I do. If there were no stars, hell if there were no rewards at all, I would still organize, play, and GM because its for the fun of the game and the awesome people that I do what I do. But, I know not everyone plays the way I do for the reasons I do so I would be a poor steward of the game if I dismissed their feelings. I hope in the end, we can put out a program that is a reasonable compromise for everyone so this campaign can continue to be as awesome as it always has.

Explore! Report! Cooperate!

If my memory has failed me I apologize. I tried my best to provide some insight into the star program for those who may not already know.

Scarab Sages 5/5

Bob Jonquet wrote:

I can give a little history lesson with regards to the star program having been one of the original recipients of the status and one of the people who "advised" the Campaign Coordinator (now called the Organized Play Manager) on the purpose and parameters early on. I hope my memory serves me as I've slept a few times since all this started. :-)

** spoiler omitted **...

I don't remember 100% timing between when I started playing in March of 2011 and Gen Con 2011 before Mike got hired (I think at the end of September 2011?). But when I came on as Venture-Lieutenant at the end of October 2011, as one of the first batch of VLs, 5-star was already in existence and VCs could sit for the observation table. So it may be that at some point between September 2011 when Mike was hired and October 2011 when I became a VL, things were changed to include a 5th star and VCs were given the right to observe.

I do recall there being some controversy over Doug Miles being the first 5 star, and I was hearing this at Gen Con 2011 (which I attended as my first time a Paizo Volunteer). By then I think Doug had largely stopped organizing and GMing, but was awarded the star in recognition for all he did for the campaign rather than for the current criteria.

So there is some nebulous time around Gen Con 2011 and October 2011 in my memory as well.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

Tallow wrote:
I do recall there being some controversy over Doug Miles being the first 5 star

Really? Do you recall the basis?

Scarab Sages 5/5

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Tallow wrote:
I do recall there being some controversy over Doug Miles being the first 5 star
Really? Do you recall the basis?

Some felt it was given to him as a "favor for a Paizo staffer friend". Despite being largely responsible for convention success and running a crap ton of games, what I heard (second hand and I have no corroboration), is he did not meet the 150 games, 10 specials, and/or 50 different scenarios, because shortly after getting 4th star he retired. You would be better able to indicate the truth of some of that. But I know there was some sour grapes from other 5-stars that Doug got the first despite not meeting criteria and not even being in the campaign anymore.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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Oh, I can certainly attest to that being inaccurate. Doug had reported something like 250+ games before the star program even launched and he was the first GM to 500+ reported (by a wide margin) as well. I cannot recall when he initially retired as VC and went into semi-retirement as a GM, but he certainly earned his stars as much as anyone has.

You may have him mixed up with Doug Dalton who was the organizer of the big con in Las Vegas (and may still be, I dunno). He was awarded 5-star status despite having GMd fewer than 10 games. That was a point of argument for a while, but was eventually corrected.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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Ahem.

As a librarian, I like to fact check. The controversy was never about Doug Miles, but about a different Doug. As far as I know, Doug Miles’ record as the first Five Star is unblemished.

EDIT: Bahb is a ninja! But I supplied a link so that people can follow the story for themselves, so I still get a star.

(Or will at my confirmation table at PaizoCon!)

Hmm

Scarab Sages 5/5

That very well may be the issue. Not sure if I made an assumption, or the person, whom I cannot recall their name, may have given me erroneous info based on an assumption.

In either case, glad it was bad info, and glad the issue was rectified.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

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By the way, guess what I learned today? The utterly spreadsheet-obsessed Michael Eshleman* is tracking not only 5 Star GMs, but prospective 5 Stars as well! (The ‘Rising Stars’ subsheet was fun to look at.)

The Five Star GM Spreadsheet

Want to know when someone got their fifth star? Now you can find out! It appears to be very up-to-date, since it even noted the sad and recent passing of David Setty.

Hmm

___
* Michael’s other spreadsheets for boons and flip-mats are awesome too.

Scarab Sages 5/5

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Wow, not only did that conversation take place in April of 2011, I apparently was a large commenter on the thread.

I have zero recollection of this.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

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So, what do they mean to me? Experience.

Now, before you get too excited, what I mean by experience is a little different than you are thinking. Growing up, my next door neighbor used to say, ”You know what experience is? It is learning from your mistakes.” so, to paraphrase what he used to say in continuation, “to say that you have 150 tables of experience, is to say you have been making mistakes for 150 tables!”

Humility is what is what is often learned in these table... learning that you are going to make mistakes at every table, but that it is ok, too. You learn to go with it, to be more of what makes you a good GM.

That’s what GM Stars mean to me. Experience. Learning. Realizing you are not perfect.

4/5

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Most of my stars were earned running APs and modules in campaign mode using the board from Candyland and the rules from Stratego. My knowledge of the Pathfinder rules is nebulous, at best.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Eastern Eurasia-Africa

Tallow wrote:
Bob Jonquet wrote:
Tallow wrote:
I do recall there being some controversy over Doug Miles being the first 5 star
Really? Do you recall the basis?
Some felt it was given to him as a "favor for a Paizo staffer friend". Despite being largely responsible for convention success and running a crap ton of games, what I heard (second hand and I have no corroboration), is he did not meet the 150 games, 10 specials, and/or 50 different scenarios, because shortly after getting 4th star he retired. You would be better able to indicate the truth of some of that. But I know there was some sour grapes from other 5-stars that Doug got the first despite not meeting criteria and not even being in the campaign anymore.

That story seems to be a bit full of misinterpreted facts. There was another Doug that got 5 stars at one point in time due to work he did for PFS at NEONCON, but didn't meet the actual scenario requirements. He lost the stars a few years later as there was an 'upkeep' for a limited time.

Doug Doug Miles is (and always was) the first 5 star GM.

For people who want to read the ancient related thread, which was actually the thread for congratulating Bob Jonquet for earning his 5th star! ;-)

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Eastern Eurasia-Africa

Auke Teeninga wrote:
Doug Doug Miles is (and always was) the first 5 star GM.

Wow, I wan ninja-ed big time!

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Online aka Magabeus

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Kevin Willis wrote:

What I think stars should mean:

1 to 4 stars:
  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

This.

As for confirmation tables: I think we should see it as a celebration of the commitment, time, energy and other things the GM put in to allow his players to shine and not as an appraisal. The appraisal should have been done beforehand and not in that specific game.

Are you taking notes Tineke and Auke?

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

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Gerard van Konijnenburg wrote:
Kevin Willis wrote:

What I think stars should mean:

1 to 4 stars:
  • Commitment to the campaign

5 stars:
  • Rules expertise competence
  • Storytelling, pacing, prep and presentation
  • Creating a welcoming, friendly, and engaging environment

This.

As for confirmation tables: I think we should see it as a celebration of the commitment, time, energy and other things the GM put in to allow his players to shine and not as an appraisal. The appraisal should have been done beforehand and not in that specific game.

Are you taking notes Tineke and Auke?

I have *so* many plans.

Wait.
Why are you running away?

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

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I'd say it's one of those "exams" that you don't schedule until you know you're going to ace it. And then it's more a celebration.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Minnesota—Minneapolis aka Silbeg

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I'd say it's one of those "exams" that you don't schedule until you know you're going to ace it. And then it's more a celebration.

Yeah, that is how it has been mostly treated around here.

The real key, in my eyes, is that we reviewers should be making an attempt to sit at the GM's tables far before their 150th, and should be able to correct any real issues long before that.

A gentle hand over time will do more than a hard stop exam.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Yep. I remember the first time I ran a 7-11 locally in Minnesota. Then Venture Lieutenant Keith (he's a VC now) signed up to play with me, and then afterwards sent me an email telling me about all the things that I was doing right, along with this bit of guidance: "Don't let rules questions derail you. Make the call for the session, and if they argue, tell them to look it up for you in their rulebooks. The players should have that information anyway." He also told me that I was a really good at pacing, roleplay and storytelling, but that I needed to be a bit more confident at combat, but that would come.

It was great review, and it happened when I was a two star. In many ways, it shaped my GMing going forward. I feel like I've gotten mentorship all along from the Minnesota crew, and I've been trying to provide some of that same mentorship both at Dreamers and to the PBP folks that I know.

In PBP world, the initiative that I'm most proud of didn't come from me. My VA Redelia set up GM mentoring games where GM players could sit with a GM in an interesting game and ask questions all the way through about some of the decisions and choices made there. The mentoring games have been fun, and I love all the questions that have come up in the discussion of the PFS GM Mentor Lounge.

I just wish there was a way of having this type of mentorship grow everywhere in PFS -- or at least expand more online so that more GMs can work on their skills as they grow.

Hmm

Scarab Sages 5/5

Jack Brown wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I'd say it's one of those "exams" that you don't schedule until you know you're going to ace it. And then it's more a celebration.

Yeah, that is how it has been mostly treated around here.

The real key, in my eyes, is that we reviewers should be making an attempt to sit at the GM's tables far before their 150th, and should be able to correct any real issues long before that.

A gentle hand over time will do more than a hard stop exam.

Excellent point!

Grand Lodge 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Great Lakes aka TwilightKnight

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BTW, if you are a GM and will be eligible for your 5th star around Gen Con time and would like your "observation" table to occur at Gen Con with a "special" table of players, email our Gen Con address and express your interest. It of course requires you to be a Gen Con volunteer GM, but over the past few years, I have organized many observation tables for GMs at Gen Con. Its a chance to maybe get access and feedback from people who you may not normally have access to. don't expect it to be Paizo staff, as they are busy, but there are a lot of well respected VOs and other 5-star GMs around that would be happy to play at your observation table. We can discuss this in more detail in email.

Good luck to anyone approaching their 5th star!

Sovereign Court

Hmm, would you post the link to the GM Mentoring Lodge in the Flaxseed? I don't know if I missed it when it was first posted, but I had no idea such a place existed!

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

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Personally, I consider stars (at least the ones I see on the forum or on players cards) to reflect absolutely nothing other than volume of scenarios/APs reported.

If I become aware under which conditions those stars were earned, that is another story, I personally, find it far more impressive to run public games or even games at busy conventions for total strangers than to run 10 APs in your basement for your buddies.

Personally public tables can be so much harder, but also represent much more significant service to your community. The home GM who learned to report but never runs anything outside of campaign mode, might to a service to his players, but really does not add anything to the local community (to be fair I offer home games/wish games for my GMs as a thank you for all their hard work).

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

Gummy Bear wrote:
Hmm, would you post the link to the GM Mentoring Lodge in the Flaxseed? I don't know if I missed it when it was first posted, but I had no idea such a place existed!

Oh, good idea! I shall do that!

Hmm

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