Unpopular Opinion: I enjoy how PFS limits GM fiat.


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5/5 5/55/5

TOZ wrote:

Why do you continue to play with him?

I'm befuddled to how someone could be so oblivious.

I would add here that there are a few players in the group that enjoy power gaming and like the idea of every fight being super tough. So, I would counter it's not being oblivious, it's he's GMing in a style that some players like and others don't.

1/5 * RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Bill Baldwin wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

The biggest issue I have lies with a GM's limited ability to make up for a scenario's poor design. If an encounter is no fun because a player took them out in a single turn, that's not the player's fault. That's the designer's fault for creating an encounter easily defeated by common tactics.

I see way too many instances of rogue NPCs trying to 1v6 the party or bad guys backing themselves into counters or mages whose strategy involves casting spells almost within melee range or monsters who fight in terrain unfavorable to their powers.

Sorry, but as an adventure writer, I have to take these comments to task.

All four points misconstrue the point I am making. I'm not talking about deliberately easy encounters or major encounters made too easy by over-optimized PCs. I'm talking about encounters that either don't make any sense as written in a way that makes them unfun for both the GM and the players.

I'm talking about encounters that instruct the GM to use tactics that are difficult or impossible to do in the encounter's intended terrain.

I'm talking about the overuse of solo monsters as the "boss fight," which usually either wipe the party or get shut down in the first turn.

I'm talking about encounters using incorrect interpretations of the core rules.

These are the things that make GMing encounters in PFS unfun for me because the GM has little power to do anything about it other than not running the scenario at all (if they have the choice).

5/5 5/55/55/5

One fight for example is a human rogue in a house. His tactic is to hide and sneak attack.

He needs dim light to hide. He can't sneak attack in dim light.

Second Seekers (Roheas) 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Appalachia

We get that kind of thing fairly frequently where the writer of the scenario just flat out botched the rules and has unusable tactics. You then end up forced to decide how to salvage the situation: do you run the rules as incorrectly understood by the writer or do you run the rules properly and improvise tactics?

The Lion's Justice:
The alchemist you fight in the first combat encounter is described as using spring attack to move in and use a standard action and then move back to safety which he can't actually do because of how the rules for Spring Attack are written

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

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Cyrad wrote:
The biggest issue I have lies with a GM's limited ability to make up for a scenario's poor design. If an encounter is no fun because a player took them out in a single turn, that's not the player's fault. That's the designer's fault for creating an encounter easily defeated by common tactics

I think its a little hubris to think the GM knows better than a team of professional writers and developers. I tend to think that if an encounter "seems" to be poorly built, its because I do not understand the parameters under which the writer/develop thinks it should work. Generally speaking those folks know what they are doing. Its why having the GM forum where you can usually talk directly to the author or developers about an encounter is so important.

The sheer size and scope of the Pathfinder ruleset makes it near impossible for a writer/developer to create encounters that are universally challenging. They have to write for the middle-ground of the campaign. If they assume every party is a well-balanced and optimized group, then any group that plays with a less-than-ideal mix is toast.

BigNorseWolf wrote:
One fight for example is a human rogue in a house. His tactic is to hide and sneak attack. He needs dim light to hide. He can't sneak attack in dim light.

To me this is just a matter of the rogue, being human, expecting the adventuring party to require a light source. Such a source will produce dim light outside of 20ft. The rogue also may be expecting any adventuring types to be alone or at least split up to investigate. Assuming otherwise is a bit meta-gamey. The rogue can hide using cover/dim light and then launch a sneak attack from said cover, hoping to return to said cover afterwards if necessary. Is it a perfect scenario? No, but without looking specifically at the build, perhaps the rogue is not that Intelligent tactically? Or perhaps the author/developer intended for the encounter to be on easy mode? We really only know by starting a thread in the GM forum and getting some feedback.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Its an inherent flaw in organized play and has been since this type of campaign was starter years ago that highly proficient players with optimized characters will generally have an "easy button" for much of their adventuring career. Nearly every time they write material truly meant to challenge the stronger characters, the general response is negative because a huge portion of our community are casual players and they get annihilated in these scenarios. There is a certain level of personal responsibility players have to accept in organized play. We know what the challenge setting is for most play. If we decide to create "monster" PCs that can routinely solo scenarios, we have no one but ourselves to blame when it happens. Everyone knows, both player and GM, that there is a very limited amount of GM fiat possible in OP. If you take advantage of that advantage as a player, its disingenuous to then blame the authors and developers for your lack of being challenged. There is nothing wrong with that type of character approach, but its better suited for a home-campaign where the GM has the freedom to adapt the encounters to meet the strengths and weaknesses of the characters.

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Douglas Edwards wrote:
We get that kind of thing fairly frequently where the writer of the scenario just flat out botched the rules and has unusable tactics. You then end up forced to decide how to salvage the situation: do you run the rules as incorrectly understood by the writer or do you run the rules properly and improvise tactics?

I think some of this can be chalked up to, "what do ya expect from a $5 adventure?"

Yea, I know that's not a great excuse, but let's think about this reasonably. Do we really have the same level of quality expectations from a $5 product that is given away for free as often as its paid for vs a $25 module or an Adventure Path? That being said, generally speaking scenarios contain excellent content both crunch and fluff. So, they occasionally get a game mechanic wrong. I would posit it happens a lot less frequently than players/GMs get it wrong at the table. Increase the level of scrutiny in development and you have to increase the cover price. Given how many people complained when the price went up a mere dollar, I would guess that's not the solution. YMMV

5/5 5/55/55/5

Quote:


To me this is just a matter of the rogue, being human, expecting the adventuring party to require a light source. Such a source will produce dim light outside of 20ft

He expects a party of all humans and halflings. Everything else can see bright as day for 40 feet out which is as big as the rooms if not the house. Really its a wonder humans haven't gone extinct...

Even IF you allow someone to restealth while observed after an attack (I think the rules are worse than iffy on that but thats a long [s]thread[/s ] tapestry on its own) He needs an all human/shorthuman party AND no one with the light rock can move where they last saw him or he'll lose his light and thus his concealment.

On the plus side him getting pinned through the bed he was hiding under was hilarious...

Second Seekers (Roheas) 4/5 5/55/55/55/5 ***** Regional Venture-Coordinator, Appalachia

Bob Jonquet wrote:
Douglas Edwards wrote:
We get that kind of thing fairly frequently where the writer of the scenario just flat out botched the rules and has unusable tactics. You then end up forced to decide how to salvage the situation: do you run the rules as incorrectly understood by the writer or do you run the rules properly and improvise tactics?

I think some of this can be chalked up to, "what do ya expect from a $5 adventure?"

Yea, I know that's not a great excuse, but let's think about this reasonably. Do we really have the same level of quality expectations from a $5 product that is given away for free as often as its paid for vs a $25 module or an Adventure Path? That being said, generally speaking scenarios contain excellent content both crunch and fluff. So, they occasionally get a game mechanic wrong. I would posit it happens a lot less frequently than players/GMs get it wrong at the table. Increase the level of scrutiny in development and you have to increase the cover price. Given how many people complained when the price went up a mere dollar, I would guess that's not the solution. YMMV

Oh don't get me wrong, later in that very scenario were two wonderful combats with rules expertise applied expertly.

I do wish we had a bit of guidance on how to handle unusable tactics when they do slip by though. Run as close to the intended tactics as possible or as close to the actual rules of the game as possible. I suppose that the OP team would not like to bake in contingencies for their own errors though as that is an admission that they'll make said errors.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Your honor the tactics were invalidated when I got here I had to make do...

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ***

Douglas Edwards wrote:
I do wish we had a bit of guidance on how to handle unusable tactics when they do slip by though

We do. The "official" message is always run-as-written unless/until the player's actions invalidate the tactics at which point you are free to run the encounter as you feel is necessary given the circumstances dictated by the player's actions. That applies even when an error in game mechanics slips by during development.

I recall when Advanced Players Guide was released and a certain scenario included a summoner who's tactics included having their eidolon out and using their summoning power which by rule cannot be done simultaneously. Personally, IMO you should err in favor of the players either RAW or following the published game mechanics whichever is "more" accurate, but that is just me. I don't like the idea of "screwing over" the players because of a misinterpreted or simply overlooked tactic or game mechanic that violates the published game rules. YMMV

1/5

For the record, when I ran The Lion's Justice...

The Lion's Justice:
I actually ran the Spring Attack tactic as written, rather than by RAW. Since there was conflict between two "absolute rules" (RAW vs. Run As Written), I made my decision based on what would be most fun and engaging for the players at the table. It made things tense and interesting without being overly deadly or resource-consuming.

(That whole part of the scenario was interesting for other reasons. The party split up to look around, and the one investigating the kitchen was a halfling paladin/order of the paw cavalier with some... interesting philosophical leanings.)

4/5 **

BigNorseWolf wrote:

If thats how the laws of physics are working today the player needs to know that in advance./QUOTE]

Correct, which is why in cases of ambiguity, I state the situation so they are aware of the circumstances and allow them to reconsider:

Player: I use my slumber hex on the target
Me: Ok, you do realize she's standing on a set of stairs, right?
Player: Why does that matter?
Me: If you fell prone on a set of stairs, would you fall down them and injure yourself?
Player: ....oh
Me: Would you like to change your action?

I don't prescribe to the notion that the reality of physics in Pathfinder only exist when explicitly stated. Environmental factors should always be taken into consideration as a GM, for good or for bad. And when these situations aren't explicitly clear, I take the time to explain it to my players and allow them to adjust their tactics and actions accordingly.

Additionally, this isn't exactly detrimental to players. What if it's a 30-ft. staircase and the NPC is near the top of it? That's a lot of "falling down the stairs" damage an enchanter wouldn't expect to get, and then the target is STILL prone at the bottom of them on their next action. I know if I were playing my witch with the slumber hex, I'd take that opportunity and ask the GM if they would fall down the stairs if the fell prone.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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Joe Bouchard wrote:
I don't prescribe to the notion that the reality of physics in Pathfinder only exist when explicitly stated.

Didn't say that.

Didn't hint that

Didn't imply that

And in fact said the exact opposite if you were paying attention.

" A sleeper falling off a tightrope is really obvious"

What I said was that it isn't obvious that sleeping someone on steps would knock them down the stairs and its not obvious that falling down stairs would be enough to knock them awake and listed a bunch of reasons why that wasn't obvious, many of which have to do with the exact nature of the magic behind slumber hex which are not and cannot be obvious to the reader.

There is falling face first to the ground falling over and there is falling on your butt falling over and there is lying down falling over. The slumber hex does not specify exactly which one it uses, so if under one DM its a more gentle "yawwwn.. thud" and other another DM its a harry potter stunner spell with three backflips and a twist you have different laws of physics. There's also how long the sleep spell keeps someone asleep for: long enough to hit the ground but not long enough to hit the bottom of the staircase?

The laws of physics change slightly from DM to DM and thats fine. Its kind of inevitable.

Quote:
Environmental factors should always be taken into consideration as a GM, for good or for bad. And when these situations aren't explicitly clear, I take the time to explain it to my players and allow them to adjust their tactics and actions accordingly.

But they can't adjust their builds or their spell load outs. Which is why I'm saying you should be really careful about this sort of thing in PFS. You have players that are pretty stuck with their build and their gear once the game starts they really can't adapt to your style.

Dark Archive 1/5 5/5

pjrogers wrote:
Mekkis wrote:

PFS scenarios aren't updated when new material comes out.

If you enjoy beating the system as you so claim, more power to you. But don't claim that it's a level playing field.

This is a really critical point, and one that I hope PFS2 can address. As additional classes, archetypes, etc. come out for PF2e, there needs to be a way to update older PFS2 scenarios, similar to the revised secondary success conditions document for the earlier seasons of PFS1.

It is absolutely NOT feasible to update 20+ scenarios every time a new book gets sanctioned. It was feasible to alter 1 minor portion of a large number of scenarios when a change of campaign direction occurred, which did not involve rebalancing any encounters, but rebalancing every encounter in every scenario released, on the off chance that some min-maxing powergamer has a trick to trivialize it (which, incidentally has the effect of forcing everyone else to become min-maxers just to survive the scenario) would be a task I would like to sentence you to perform.

4/5 *

There are possible methods of calculating the APL of a party that could take some of this into account. One could count the APL of combat animals towards the party APL, for example. Certain classes could count as (level +1). PCs that use additional resources from X or more sources could count as higher level. (NOT a finished rule suggestion, just the concept - would obviously require a lot of work to function. But since a new OP Campaign is in development...)

A character using optimized feats etc. performs at roughly APL+2 versus a Core character (which is what the adventure CR system is based on). This is based on my experience with home campaigns and as an adventure writer. In their element, it can easily be APL+3 or +4. That disparity breaks games.

Dark Archive 2/5

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Bryan Bloomer wrote:
Gm Fiat

I have hated this since the early days. We were young back then, in the 1970's... 1980's... and we let GMs run all over us. And we even played a game that was 99% GM Fiat with some fake numbers thrown in... two counting Anime High School (I think it was called)... but I digress... In modern times, I much prefer non-cheating GMs who roll dice in front of you instead of behind a screen AND non-cheating players who roll dice in front of everyone as well and don't cheat on their character builds.

In a magic world with tons of magic, the two spells my mage might be able to use to fix an issue won't work and the fighter can't knock it down either? Then what am I even playing for. To do nothing? To spin my wheels for two hours trying to figure out that ONE WAY the GM decided you could get by something? Frag that nonsense.

The one thing PFS has allowed me to do is play a mage - finally - after nearly 40 years (and only one other real mage character ever). No more fiated "the spell you just cast successfully, and normally would affect this and work, doesn't." SO INFURIATING. To the point of never bothering with mages. In 40 years of gaming! Looking back, wow... it all goes back to bad GMing.

So I say bring on PFS and its "rules" - it is for the betterment of us all! No more fiats! If I download the adventure and read it, it better say what you said it did!

(this being said, I would like to point out that in my first ever "gm session in PFS" last night, there was an option for Roidira to punish those who continued to refuse her offers, and I did make a little of that up - per RAW in the module - so there is still some flexibility for GMs to screw with the players from time to time... or never is nothing... or whatever comes under her black feathers...)

Dark Archive 2/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:

One fight for example is a human rogue in a house. His tactic is to hide and sneak attack.

He needs dim light to hide. He can't sneak attack in dim light.

If they are unchained rogue, they can... since the " A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment" changed to "A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with total concealment." And if you go by RAW updates, then the "SNEAK ATTACK" CF has been updated for every class that gets it to the unchained version. (use latest legal version, get rid of old versions).

5/5 5/55/55/5

maouse33 wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

One fight for example is a human rogue in a house. His tactic is to hide and sneak attack.

He needs dim light to hide. He can't sneak attack in dim light.

If they are unchained rogue, they can... since the " A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment" changed to "A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with total concealment."

he predates the unchained rogue, and i think i got used as an example of the absurdity of trying to play a rogue like a rogue

Dark Archive 2/5

BigNorseWolf wrote:
maouse33 wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:

One fight for example is a human rogue in a house. His tactic is to hide and sneak attack.

He needs dim light to hide. He can't sneak attack in dim light.

If they are unchained rogue, they can... since the " A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment" changed to "A rogue cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with total concealment."
he predates the unchained rogue, and i think i got used as an example of the absurdity of trying to play a rogue like a rogue

Yeh, I am not saying absurdities don't exist in modules... the potion spear is the best example that comes to my mind. A spear, with a potion, delivered to people poked, with a potion, which can't be made in normal potion making rules (because it affects self only or whatever the limit is on potions)... yeh, that one was a "WTF is this author thinking - have they event PLAYED PF?" moment.

Dark Archive 2/5

I would also add this for those of you who want a "tough" but level adventure; I've done it in home games and it works WONDERFULLY.

Step #1 have the characters use random dice or PFS hp progression. They can spend gold to increase per retraining if they want to - but this works best if you don't let them do this.

Step #2 have all the monsters they encounter use MAX HP. Use the GM guide for encounters just like normal and an APL+3 will be an EPIC (8 rounds perhaps more) encounter.

Step #3 prepare to have long combats that still generally go the player's way, but allow them to do more than "their one trick."

ps. concerning the APL+3 = Epic, another thing regarding PFS modules - WTF is with the scaling of a 5th level module with 3 lvl 8 and one lvl 9 encounter? That is like EPIC x3 + 1 BEYOND encounter when the entire module is supposed to have ONE epic encounter... I'm looking at you Hrethnar's Throne!

5/5 5/55/55/5

Potions CANT be made into self only things. They have to be used on other people. So the spear can actually be great for an expensive cure level 3 injector, or you can pour potions of inflict light wounds in there

Grand Lodge 4/5

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
maouse33 wrote:
yeh, that one was a "WTF is this author thinking - have they event PLAYED PF?" moment.

At the same time, some of these things are iconic stories that just aren't doable thanks to the rules of the game. Ever tried to use a smokestick in combat? It's like a round and a half, two rounds to employ. Same with getting a torch to fend off creatures that weapons can't hurt. (We lost the swarm vulnerabilities in the transition from 3.5m, which I sorely miss even if they were a bit esoteric and not streamlined.)

Grand Lodge 4/5 5/55/5 ** Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Melbourne

GM Lamplighter wrote:

There are possible methods of calculating the APL of a party that could take some of this into account. One could count the APL of combat animals towards the party APL, for example. Certain classes could count as (level +1). PCs that use additional resources from X or more sources could count as higher level. (NOT a finished rule suggestion, just the concept - would obviously require a lot of work to function. But since a new OP Campaign is in development...)

A character using optimized feats etc. performs at roughly APL+2 versus a Core character (which is what the adventure CR system is based on). This is based on my experience with home campaigns and as an adventure writer. In their element, it can easily be APL+3 or +4. That disparity breaks games.

This goes back to the issue of judges being able to reliably judge the 'brokenness of a character,' which, BTW, isn't nearly as important as the brokenness of the party as a whole. It is essentially the same thing as letting GMs modify encounters based on their judgement of the party's power level. As stated before, this is fine in a home game but doesn't work so well in the inconsistent format of Organized Play.

If you run a mod as written and it is too easy, there may be some mild disappointment. If you run an easy mod and decide to make it hard and misjudge the strength of the party, there can be some serious negative reactions. As such, I am opposed to any form of difficulty adjustment in organized paly that relies solely on the GM’s judgment. If the mod offers a hard mode and the players opt to play it in hard mode, well, that was their choice.

I realize you are trying to come up with a list that would be more objective, but just because someone has a broken class, feat, magic item, etc. does not mean their character is broken. Brokeness usually relies on a combo of things that creates a powerful gestalt. Overall, I think the type of thing you are shooting for would be over-complicated as there are too many variables. The last thing we want for the new campaign is a Guide that is twice as thick as the current one.

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