Tips for a first-time GM?


Advice

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Derklord wrote:
If I as a GM have declared that my campaign uses 20PB, and someone wants to roll, I'd presume that their goal is to get a character more powerful than what I've intended. Why should I allow that?

That is exactly their goal.

Nyerkh wrote:
How about talking it out with your players?

The GM is not a charity case, and, given the general dearth of GMs, is operating in a seller's market.

"...This campaign will be 20pt-buy, and the sources listed below are available. There are to be no evil characters and no 9th-level spellcasting classes...."
<snippet from a hypothetical Derklord game site announcement seeking players>

Aside from the level playing field, what I like about point-buy campaigns is that the GM is established at the outset that he's making some conditions and that he's going to stick with them. -- It cuts the prefatory arguing right down to nil, and those types whom we charitably describe as "problem players" will gravitate someone on down the road.

Kianti wrote:
I have to agree with those above. For first time GM. Roll stats! It will save you so much work in the long run.
I'll bite: what "work" is it saving him? The players can build their characters off-site in point-buy. The GM has to be present to witness die-rolling. So, right from the start of this comparison we already know that there's more "work" for everybody before a single cube is tossed.
Quote:
It also helps balance the party a bit since you will not have a big difference in starting stats which helps a lot.

That is not at all how *dice* behave.

~ ~ ~

Billy: "Awesome! I rolled an 18, a 17, two 16s, two 14s and a 12!"
Susie: "I got four 10s, a 13, and a 6."
GM: "That's terrible; I'll let you reroll!"
Susie: "Do you have any idea how many times I would have to reroll to get 'an 18, a 17, two 16s, two 14s and a 12'? We'd be here all day. Why not just give us all 55pt-buy right from the start to keep it fair?"
GM: "55? That seems both excessive and oddly specific."
Susie: "You don't say...."


As was stated by others please drop the stat roll vs. point buy discussion. You folks can start a different thread to argue about it for the umpteenth time.

For complete newbie players, you are much better off just having a stack of pregens that you know will work for your introductory campaign. Have a short intro text for each saying its primary strs and wkns. Then let them choose. They will not yet know enough about the rules to build a PC from scratch anyway.

As a bonus, ability generation arguments are completely sidestepped.


I agree with wholeheartedly with this last comment. Is the goal to have the players learn all the ins and outs of character creation, or just jump in and play the game? Sounds like the latter.


Gruingar de'Morcaine wrote:
As was stated by others please drop the stat roll vs. point buy discussion.

I have gone through every post on the first page of the thread, and not a single person has made such a request (and only one considered it off-topic -- and that is a consideration I do not agree with; see below). The advice to avoid die-roll-generated characters was proposed by Derklord, and the immediately-following post was from the OP (almost four hours later, so I doubt he missed Derklord's comment), and it read in its entirely: "This info is all super helpful, thank you all for the advice/resources so far!"

Since every terrible adventure I've ever found myself in featured die-roll-generation (which through bitter experience I now hold to be a harbinger of imminent doom), I weighed in on what seems to be, if not necessarily the solid consensus opinion, then certainly neither an unpopular nor unreasonable one, especially given that the largest campaign in the system uses it.

On that note, I would suggest that first-time GMs adapt the character-building and leveling guidelines of PFS for their first game.

Quote:
For complete newbie players, you are much better off just having a stack of pregens that you know will work for your introductory campaign.
JiaYou wrote:
Is the goal to have the players learn all the ins and outs of character creation, or just jump in and play the game?

We're weighing the merits of tips for first-time GMs, not tips for first-time players. (My assumption is that the first-time GM in-the-form-of-the-OP is not a first-time player, and knows at least some of the ropes of the game itself.)


Sure, Slim Jim, it was more of a rhetorical question about what the GM actually wants to emphasize early on.

Anyway, I like what Mark Hoover said on the previous page. I'd add on by checking places where you think the party might get confused, or check plot threads that might get dropped and think of ways to fix them. Sometimes printed material only has one way you're going to hit the next plot beat but you think the party is going to miss it or not bite. So as the players start meshing and growing and you can see what aspects of the game are most appealing, you can start adding in alternative paths thy gel better with the needs/wants of the players or PCs.


Slim Jim wrote:
Gruingar de'Morcaine wrote:
As was stated by others please drop the stat roll vs. point buy discussion.

I have gone through every post on the first page of the thread, and not a single person has made such a request (and only one considered it off-topic -- and that is a consideration I do not agree with; see below). The advice to avoid die-roll-generated characters was proposed by Derklord, and the immediately-following post was from the OP (almost four hours later, so I doubt he missed Derklord's comment), and it read in its entirely: "This info is all super helpful, thank you all for the advice/resources so far!"

Then I guess I'll have to throw in with the die-rollers: D&D needs rolled characters for my sake. I've had far more fun with rolled stats than point buy or (shudder) array. Most of my players agree, or don't much care either way. Sure, sometimes you get s$+~ characters in good groups, sometimes you get god characters. Never has this significantly impacted gameplay or enjoyment.

And this whole discussion falls into the trap I tried to warn of in of my first point in my last post: Fun is the Number 1 priority. What works for a group works for a group and you shouldn't worry if other people don't like it. If your group likes point buy, fine. If your group wants to roll, fine.

By all means be aware of what others have found problematic in order to fix easily issues that may pop up, but don't assume that because some people find something problematic that it is inherently so for everyone.


Gargs454 wrote:
In all fairness, I think the discussion of rolled vs. point buy/array is somewhat off topic for this thread.

The only thing of topic is posty by people who don't differentiate between the boundaries of this thread (i.e. first time GM and first time players) and a generic discussion. "Rolled vs. point buy/array for first time players" is a discussion that's is very much not off topic, and contrary to what Gruingar de'Morcaine said, it's also not something discussed countless times.

Gargs454 wrote:
certain classes were supposed to be rare

Not in Pathfinder. Seriously, that's not something that exists in Pathfinder. Thus, it may be a valid "reasoning behind rolled stats" for a group of players who're at it since the 70's (or 80's, when was that a thing the last time?), but not for this thread.

I mean, are you going to tell a first time player "you can't play the class you wanted because 40 years ago, a similar class had a high barrier for entry"?

JiaYou wrote:
I agree with wholeheartedly with this last comment. Is the goal to have the players learn all the ins and outs of character creation, or just jump in and play the game? Sounds like the latter.

Character creation is part of the fun for a low of people, and it is a pretty big part of the game. I don't have a problem with pregens, but they should be optional if used (apart from maybe a tutorial campaign that lasts a few levels at best).

Please note that my original post said "Don't rolls ability scores", not "use point buy".

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Then I guess I'll have to throw in with the die-rollers: D&D needs rolled characters for my sake.

You might not have noticed this, but this is the Pathfinder boards. We are talking about first time players playing Pathfinder, not old D&D players who think everything that's different from what they started with was evil. Because that's what it is, you and your players 'prefer' rolling because point buy or arrays is different from what you grew up with.


Y'know what's interesting? I've only skimmed through after about post 38 but several folks have noted that its useful to encourage your players to build for flavor or role playing as much as ROLL playing.

While I support the idea of ENCOURAGING your players to do this, never set it as a mandate. If your players want to just deal wheelbarrows full of damage and beat every encounter with brute force... let them.

This game is as much theirs as yours. Don't stop giving them interesting encounters that COULD be overcome with skills or talking, but never make it an expectation that those are the only method of beating the challenge.


Derklord wrote:
Gargs454 wrote:
In all fairness, I think the discussion of rolled vs. point buy/array is somewhat off topic for this thread.

The only thing of topic is posty by people who don't differentiate between the boundaries of this thread (i.e. first time GM and first time players) and a generic discussion. "Rolled vs. point buy/array for first time players" is a discussion that's is very much not off topic, and contrary to what Gruingar de'Morcaine said, it's also not something discussed countless times.

Gargs454 wrote:
certain classes were supposed to be rare

Not in Pathfinder. Seriously, that's not something that exists in Pathfinder. Thus, it may be a valid "reasoning behind rolled stats" for a group of players who're at it since the 70's (or 80's, when was that a thing the last time?), but not for this thread.

I mean, are you going to tell a first time player "you can't play the class you wanted because 40 years ago, a similar class had a high barrier for entry"?

Hence the reason I said somewhat OT. I think a detailed discussion of the merits of the various systems gets a bit OT though I agree advising, in general, on a system is not OT. Splitting hairs I suppose, so my apologies in that regard.

As for the second part, I assumed you knew I was referring to the history of Pathfinder and its roots in D&D and why people still choose to roll for stats. More to the point though, if you read my entire post, you'll see that I actually agree with you and recommend NOT rolling stats.

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