GM running scenario without certain books


GM Discussion


Hi all,

I usually only play. I have ever only purchased one scenario (Silent Tide) several years ago and used a friend's bestiary for reference. Back then there were not so many different books. Since I'm mostly a player, I mostly only buy the books I need to use for playing my own PFS. I don't own any of the recent Bestiary books, any unchained book (I don't need them) or many others. I actually only own about three dozen PFS books, mostly PDFs.

Beyond that I have run a home group through most of the Curse of the Crimson Throne hardcover edition. And since it's a home game, the AP doesn't have to be followed 100%, so I make some minor adjustments when it refers to an ability that is from a books I don't own.

I am a stickler for the rules and that's the root of my problem. My local group has asked me to run a season 9 or 10 high level PFS scenario. I would have to purchase the scenario, of course. Not a problem there. But what happens if the scenario happens to refer to some ability or item that doesn't exist in any of the books I own? I don't want to have to buy any other PFS books in order to be legal to run the game. I don't see a list of which books are required for each season 9 and 10 scenario so that I can choose a scenario that only uses the books I already own. And I don't see any official rule that would allow me to run a PFS sanctioned scenario with any modifications (rebuild NPC's) to account for abilities or items that aren't in any of the pathfinder books I already own. And, obviously, I can't return a PDF purchased scenario if it turns out that I would have to buy additional things I'm not will to buy.

Particularly of concern to me is that there are many recent PF RPG books I don't own, including all the unchained ones, occult and mythic. And my assumption that many of the season 9 and 10 scenarios will require these books.

To summarize, I want to run a scenario and be 100% legal. I don't want to buy any additional book that I don't need for playing PFS and will never need again. I don't want to rely on what any of the players may or may not own (and therefore can't expect to use to prepare for the session). Is there an official solution to this dilemma?

Mark

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

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Google archives of nethys thing i don't understand how is works and it will bring it up.

The PLAYER needs the options they're using. The DM does not.

5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Virginia—Portsmouth aka CsonTep

It is legal for GMs to use Archives of Nethys to reference things in scenarios from books they do not own or can borrow.

Archives of Nethys

or for easier finding what your looking for

Legacy PRD legacy.aonprd.com for the old Paizo PRD

Dark Archive 5/5 Venture-Agent, Ohio—Columbus aka Cirithiel

What the others said.

Additionally, you do not need to own the bestiaries to GM. All required stat blocks are now included in scenarios. That was changed a couple years ago. Definitely any season 9 or 10 will have them either in the text or in an appendix at the end.


Bradley McTeer wrote:

It is legal for GMs to use Archives of Nethys to reference things in scenarios from books they do not own or can borrow.

Archives of Nethys

or for easier finding what your looking for

Legacy PRD legacy.aonprd.com for the old Paizo PRD

Can you show me where this is stated officially by Paizo? Because, technically anyone who is GMing is playing the game, and the RGG says that any player is supposed to have all referenced books. Logically this includes GMs who are technically also playing the game.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

played has a bit of mixed meaning (sometimes everyone around the table, someone people playing their PCS)

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

@mjeans: I admire your zeal for playing by the rules. But I think you've overestimated your obligations :)

Let's look closely at what the Guide says:

PFS Guild Guide, season 10, page 5 wrote:

RESOURCES

The Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild requires all members to have the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and the Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide (this document). Players and GMs are also expected to familiarize themselves with the official Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild FAQ at paizo.com/organizedplay/faq and Campaign Clarifications at paizo.com/pathfindersociety/rpg/clarifications. When multiple versions of a rule exist, reference the Campaign Clarification document for further guidance. If an entry doesn’t exist for your source, use the written source as presented. If there still is a discrepancy, please bring the issue to the attention of campaign leadership by e-mailing organizedplay@paizo.com.

If a clarification or FAQ pertains to your character, you are expected to bring a copy of the relevant sections to any Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild game.

While GMs are not required to read every post on the forums, they need to keep abreast of clarifications. GMs may not ignore rules clarifications, including posts from the organized play team on organized play forum threads that they have seen. Forum clarifications will be added to the FAQ, Campaign Clarifications document, or this Guide as soon as possible.

Paizo produces a wide range of books that further explore the game rules and world of Pathfinder. These volumes contain a huge variety of options to help customize your character. You can view the list of all campaign-legal additional resources online at paizo.com/pathfindersociety/ rpg/additional. In order to use content from sources outside the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, a player must bring an accessible copy of the resource that indicates that she owns the resource. An accessible copy means one of the following: a physical copy of the book, a name-watermarked Paizo PDF of the relevant pages, or either a photocopy of the relevant pages or electronic access to the Pathfinder Reference Document at pfrd.info along with proof of purchase. Proof of purchase may include a receipt from a game store or a screenshot of your My Downloads page at paizo.com. An earned Chronicle sheet that prints the full text of a rules option may be used in lieu of an accessible copy. In addition to the rules themselves, you must bring a current copy of the Additional Resources listing pertaining to the rule. Inform the GM that you plan to use additional resource material before play begins and allow the GM to familiarize herself with any new rules.

There are only two books that everyone must have: the core rulebook and the guild guide (which is free).

The other ownership is all in the context of using stuff as a player, for your player character. That becomes clear from the beginning of the paragraph and is reinforced at the end.


Okay, so there is a literal gray area, but it can be inferred that GM's can make due with only the books they have. But what does that mean with a scenario uses a class that is published in a book the GM doesn't have, like Unchained Rogue. I don't own any unchains stuff. And I don't even want to own them and have no interest in learning the mechanics of how to play an unchained rogue. Am I allowed, as a GM, to just run the NPC as a regular rogue?

Grand Lodge 4/5

It is not a gray area. It is a clearly defined rule. Players have to own the sources for anything their character has. GMs only have to have the CRB and Guild Guide. If a NPC has something, then it has it. The GM does not need to have that particular resource.

If you as the GM would like to know more about that particular resource, you can look it up on Archives of Nethys.

As for running the NPC you have to go by what the scenario calls for. The GM has to run it as written.

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

mjmeans wrote:

Okay, so there is a literal gray area, but it can be inferred that GM's can make due with only the books they have. But what does that mean with a scenario uses a class that is published in a book the GM doesn't have, like Unchained Rogue. I don't own any unchains stuff. And I don't even want to own them and have no interest in learning the mechanics of how to play an unchained rogue. Am I allowed, as a GM, to just run the NPC as a regular rogue?

As the GM you do NOT need the books, Archive of Nethys is perfectly fine, you are however not allowed to change something in the scenario, like using another version of the rogue class.

Dark Archive 4/5

If it helps unchained rogue mechanics aren't that different. The concern about learning new classes was cited by a number of other long time GMs a few years ago, so your not alone on that front. For the most part though if you've GMed for awhile and you aren't prepping in a pinch any given scenario is only going to give you a few curves to workout, most of the newer ones actually have a bestiary appendix so that info is already in there too.

The Exchange 5/5

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Hi! I'm nosig - the guy with a bunch of Old Gamer stories... here's one that might offer a different approach for you to take...

If I'm running a scenario that uses a rules sub-set that I (as the judge) am unfamiliar with, I'll normally check around at the table to see if someone else is familiar with them. It's kind of nice having another player at the table who knows how it works.

A while back I was running a game with very little prep - and one of the NPCs was a class that I had never run, in fact that I had never even SEEN run. Yeah, I read the book on it (10-15 minutes of my hour prep time in fact) - but when it came to running him in combat? heck, I could read his tactics from the scenario, but understand them? So I came to that moment in the melee where I'm not sure how it works and... just asked. Sure enough, there's a player at the table who's eyes light up. "Hay! I run a guy like that! Yeah, that's a feat, it does XXX". Me: "So when it says he does YY?" Player: "Oh, he should move to here (pointing at a spot on the map) to do that because...". And it made the game much more fun then me trying to stumble thru playing something I had no idea how it worked. And next time I run it - I'll better understand those class abilities.

I can also see letting everyone at the table know we're using the "new rule sub-set from XXX"... that means more than one set of eyes looking at it and more than one brain trying to figure out how to run it.

After all, I'm playing WITH the other players, not AGAINST them.

Sovereign Court 5/5

mjmeans wrote:

Okay, so there is a literal gray area, but it can be inferred that GM's can make due with only the books they have. But what does that mean with a scenario uses a class that is published in a book the GM doesn't have, like Unchained Rogue. I don't own any unchains stuff. And I don't even want to own them and have no interest in learning the mechanics of how to play an unchained rogue. Am I allowed, as a GM, to just run the NPC as a regular rogue?

wait... please take a moment to examine what you are saying...

in your first post in this thread you say "...I am a stickler for the rules... "
In the post above you say you ...

"...have no interest in learning the mechanics of how to play an unchained rogue..."

???

I am having difficulty understanding this.


Muse. wrote:
mjmeans wrote:

Okay, so there is a literal gray area, but it can be inferred that GM's can make due with only the books they have. But what does that mean with a scenario uses a class that is published in a book the GM doesn't have, like Unchained Rogue. I don't own any unchains stuff. And I don't even want to own them and have no interest in learning the mechanics of how to play an unchained rogue. Am I allowed, as a GM, to just run the NPC as a regular rogue?

wait... please take a moment to examine what you are saying...

in your first post in this thread you say "...I am a stickler for the rules... "
In the post above you say you ...

"...have no interest in learning the mechanics of how to play an unchained rogue..."

???

I am having difficulty understanding this.

Hi Muse. You're right to point that out. But what you missed was that I don't wand to buy any additional books. And while AON is a good resource and the consensus here is that THAT IS what is permitted for a GM to prepare, it doesn't solve my problem.

Additionally, the archives of nethys site doesn’t include all the rules from all the Paizo sources. It's mostly complete, but there are missing bits. So there is a risk that some scenario references a feat or ability that isn't on AON. And consensus is that GM's are not allowed to run a scenario other than the way it is written. The consequence of those two facts is that a GM that can't find a feat or rule not adequately described in the scenario and not on AON and doesn't buy the source book has no possibility of running the scenario as written; and the GM is then breaking the rules.

And as I restate, I don't want to learn classes from unchained or occult or mythic.

The above thread reveals only one solution and that is that I need to know in advance what books are needed as reference to properly prepare for any scenarios so that I can decide whether I want to buy it. After I buy the scenario it's too late since they can't be returned.

While playing as a player I frequently have to review the rules for the mid to high level character I'm playing between turns in a combat and it sometimes delays my actions. And this is for characters that I am very familiar with. As a GM, if I have to spend that much time deciding what each NPC does and make sure they use all the feats and ability as they should to be fair to the NPCs I'm worried that this will mean that I'm taking too long and the game will proceed like slogging through mud. On the other hand, if I remember something wrong, or forget some ability, then I haven't actually run the scenario as written. When I forget to use some ability of my character when I'm playing IN a scenario, it's my fault and my character pays the price. But if I make a mistake as a GM it affects the whole table. I have seen a TPK when a GM made a mistake. I don't want to be that guy.

It's already going to be a challenge for me to run classes in the core rulebook that I never played before but at least most of them I've seen being played before. To this date, I've only seen one unchained class being run by another player and I haven't seen any occult or mythic or psionic characters. For me this is a huge uphill climb so I want to, if at all possible, GM scenarios that only use classes that I am either familiar with or at least have seen being played.

Perhaps it might be better to focus on a specific subset. My group is most interested in my running a high level seeker scenario and that already has a huge commitment to understanding the way each NPC should be run. The two scenarios being considered are : "#9-25 Betrayal in the Bones (12-15)", or "10-09 The Rasping Rebirth (12–15)". So can anyone tell me what specific sources are required to run each of these scenarios?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

mjmeans wrote:
The consequence of those two facts is that a GM that can't find a feat or rule not adequately described in the scenario and not on AON and doesn't buy the source book has no possibility of running the scenario as written; and the GM is then breaking the rules.

Absolutely does not follow.

A DM that checks archives of nethys for a feat or ability, and archives of nethys has it wrong, is not breaking the rules. They're dealing with human error. Something that happens all the time in fields far more important than a role playing game.

The rules 100% absolutely do NOT require you to be perfect. (I don't think i've ever seen a game where someone didn't get something wrong) They just don't let you deliberately change things and take a good faith effort to get right.


Perhaps it might be better to focus on a specific subset. My group is most interested in me running a high level seeker scenario. High level scenarios already have a huge commitment to understanding the way each NPC should be run. The two scenarios being considered are : "#9-25 Betrayal in the Bones (12-15)", or "10-09 The Rasping Rebirth (12–15)". So can anyone tell me what specific sources are needed to be able to resolve every class, archetype, feat, item or any other ability or rule to run each of these scenarios?

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.
mjmeans wrote:
So can anyone tell me what specific sources are needed to be able to resolve every class, archetype, feat, item or any other ability or rule to run each of these scenarios?

Google, bing, and duckduckgo.

Dark Archive 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
mjmeans wrote:
Perhaps it might be better to focus on a specific subset. My group is most interested in me running a high level seeker scenario. High level scenarios already have a huge commitment to understanding the way each NPC should be run. The two scenarios being considered are : "#9-25 Betrayal in the Bones (12-15)", or "10-09 The Rasping Rebirth (12–15)". So can anyone tell me what specific sources are needed to be able to resolve every class, archetype, feat, item or any other ability or rule to run each of these scenarios?

9-25: This adventure makes use of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide (APG), Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 3, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 4, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 5, Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Combat (UC), and Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Equipment (UE).

10-09: The Rasping Rebirth makes use of the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2, and Pathfinder RPG Mythic Adventures (MA).

mjmeans wrote:
And as I restate, I don't want to learn classes from unchained or occult or mythic.

Unchained: There is almost no learning curve for the Unchained classes, especially with respect to running them in combat. You shouldn't be scared off about running any of those Unchained classes. (Building a PC would take more effort to learn the class, but not a lot.)

Occult: These classes are a big deal; I fully appreciate not wanting to learn these classes.

Mythic: You don't need to learn new classes. You only need to understand how Mythic Power works and understand any Mythic feats or abilities. But these are really just buffs to the monsters to make them more challenging for high-level characters. I think you are overestimating the work it will take to understand Mythic creatures.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver aka roll4initiative

The few scenarios I ran that contained mythic rules had them listed in the creatures' stat blocks. So, no Mythic Rulebook needed.


Thank you everyone for your input. I'm now 99% sure I'll go with 9-25 since I already own CR, APG UE, and UC and I can refer to B1-5 from AON if there is something that isn't clear about the monsters that are anticipated to be provided in an appendix of the scenario. Again, thanks to everyone for their assistance. It's a big load of my shoulders.

Grand Lodge 4/5

mjmeans wrote:
Perhaps it might be better to focus on a specific subset. My group is most interested in me running a high level seeker scenario. High level scenarios already have a huge commitment to understanding the way each NPC should be run. The two scenarios being considered are : "#9-25 Betrayal in the Bones (12-15)", or "10-09 The Rasping Rebirth (12–15)". So can anyone tell me what specific sources are needed to be able to resolve every class, archetype, feat, item or any other ability or rule to run each of these scenarios?

Every product Paizo put out that features a class, trait, feat, piece of equipment, etc. that is PFS legal. You as a GM do not get to limit what sources a player in PFS gets to use.

If I got to limit players to what I owned, there would be no kineticsts, no occultists, no vigilantes, no shifters, no Horror, No Occult, and whatever else I personally don't like. Then I'd figure out a way to ban gunpowder.

At that point I would not be running a PFS session, but a homebrew session that could not be remotely close to a PFS session.

UNLESS I just ran a Core game. Since I run a lot of sessions online, I wouldn't be running anything as few players would play with those restrictions.


Xathos of Varisia wrote:
mjmeans wrote:
Perhaps it might be better to focus on a specific subset. My group is most interested in me running a high level seeker scenario. High level scenarios already have a huge commitment to understanding the way each NPC should be run. The two scenarios being considered are : "#9-25 Betrayal in the Bones (12-15)", or "10-09 The Rasping Rebirth (12–15)". So can anyone tell me what specific sources are needed to be able to resolve every class, archetype, feat, item or any other ability or rule to run each of these scenarios?

Every product Paizo put out that features a class, trait, feat, piece of equipment, etc. that is PFS legal. You as a GM do not get to limit what sources a player in PFS gets to use.

If I got to limit players to what I owned, there would be no kineticsts, no occultists, no vigilantes, no shifters, no Horror, No Occult, and whatever else I personally don't like. Then I'd figure out a way to ban gunpowder.

At that point I would not be running a PFS session, but a homebrew session that could not be remotely close to a PFS session.

UNLESS I just ran a Core game. Since I run a lot of sessions online, I wouldn't be running anything as few players would play with those restrictions.

I didn't say or imply anywhere that I would limit what the PC players use. This thread is about my own limit for what I'm willing to GM. The PC players will use whatever rules they have and I will just have assume that they are correct if they have any unchained, mythic, psionic or occult or any other abilities or items that I don't know about. All these players are long time experienced players and I think they have all GMed PFS before. However, without any of these books I won't be able to help them if they have some questions about their PCs. But in principle it's really not my responsibility to police the PC players. I need to know that I am running everything I'm responsible for as GM in a legitimate way. If I happen to notice something a player does that seems wrong I will ask them for clarification; though with this group I don't expect any such occurrence.

Again, thanks to all who replied here and for all the help with this issue. It really helps alleviate some anxiety I have about running a PFS scenario.

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

I have one important question for you, MJ. Do your players have PFS characters in the 7-11 range? Because if they don't, they won't have legal PFS characters for this, and you should run the scenario as a home game, not for PFS credit. That would mean that you could make any changes you desire to the text.

If they do have PFS characters of the appropriate level, then carry on! Welcome to GMing PFS. If you have any questions about the scenario, or need any more advice, we're glad to help.

Hmm

Sovereign Court 5/5

ah... you might also check out the:
PFS GM Prep site.

for useful documents that would help you run the scenario you choose...

Often someone has put together a Monster write-up that would cover most of the rules you would need... as well as give a BUNCH of supporting documents/handouts/tracking sheets/what-not.

Heck, also check out the GM Discussion for the scenario you choose, even ask there so we don't get possible spoilers scattered into other threads...

Silver Crusade 3/5

I have done GMing since around 2015 I think. I don't remember the last time I had to check a physical book to resolve a rules thing when preparing to run a game. Nethys has pretty much everything these days now that they've added skills as well.

I can understand being cautious, but in my experience, running as a GM (if you have a stable internet connection) can be done based purely on the scenario and websites.

4/5

Christian Dragos wrote:
The few scenarios I ran that contained mythic rules had them listed in the creatures' stat blocks. So, no Mythic Rulebook needed.

This is not my experience.

Quite often you'll run across a monster with a mythic template, and you might not even immediately realize it is one. Stuff like Agile or Savage or the like... its easy to assume it was just part of the critters name... not a template.

Very few of them do I recall seeing a description of said templates.

Sczarni 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Connecticut—Manchester aka Cpt_kirstov

the other source is PFSprep.com this is especially helpful for scenarios that came out prior to to the stats being in the back of the scenario. but it has worksheets to help out with hard to follow things.

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