Discussion on replays and community building


Starfinder Society


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So in my area we have a good problem that there is a lot of interest in Starfinder and groups keep popping up. I have myself put a good amount of effort into supporting as many groups as I can.

The issue now is that the current replay rules are killing my ability to help sustain these groups. Here is a breakdown on how this is playing out.

Group A has 1.5 tables worth of regular players we all like each other and play weekly with one week being society play adventures and the next week being a campaign mode adventure path. keeping us from outpacing content. We frequently run a second table based on things people need and have some less frequent players that round out the 2nd table. Our organizer puts in an insane amount of time tracking what people have played and tries to have a schedule that works for us all. I have had to GM a few times but never had to skip a session because there was nothing for me to play/gm.

This is more or less what I expect is happening in similar playgroups everywhere.

Group B has a dedicated GM that wants to run every so often and has two friends that will always play with said GM. I am frequently available on days they want to play but it then turns into a struggle to find content we all can play. and They are less available on days that group A plays so merging is less of an option. Also they support a different store

Group C has a DM that wants to run a lot but has very limited time to do so. They frequently try to use local communication tools to recruit players and are often unable to get a critical mass of players but not because of lack of interest because of a lack of players who can do the same scenario

Groups B,and C seem to be very counter to any sort of actual community building. I would think a rogue GM trying to run on free time would be great for all those poor DMs that want to just play a game once in a blue moon. But even wilder than that I am just not sure what to do about the fact that I currently struggle for a legal way to make a society table happen that just needs a 3rd player. I realize it's not an ideal play experience but better than constantly being cancelled or playing the same repeatables with new characters all the time.

I know that someday maybe even soon there will be lots of content and this will be a non issue but holding communities together until then may be hard.

Scarab Sages ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Netherlands aka CptJames

Kingbrendarr wrote:
Our organizer puts in an insane amount of time tracking what people have played and tries to have a schedule that works for us all. I have had to GM a few times but never had to skip a session because there was nothing for me to play/gm.

Please tell me your GM uses PFSTracker? It's so much simpler.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

Ya'll are gonna have to go Jadnura and rotate who's burning the replay

Sovereign Court 4/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

Another option is to play a lot of the replayables. Currently, it is possible to get 25 xp on any given character without touching any of the non-replayable scenarios.

Maybe see if you can get them to recruit a 3rd friend?

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

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The way we typically do it in our area:

* People sign up on Warhorn to play in a "to be determined" slot. They can put in class and level if they like.
* When there's a couple of people signed up, the GM looks up those people (and level ranges) in the PFS Tracker (working link) and figures out what scenarios they can play.
* The GM then changes the scenario to one that works for those people.
* Other people can then see what scenario is on offer and sign up too if they like.

Of course basic mathematical truths still apply. If you play at a higher rate than adventures are published then you're going to run out. But if you play both Pathinder and Starfinder on alternating weeks, you can just about break even, and if you GM some of those sessions then you get some slack. If you occasionally schedule three consecutive sessions to run a module or (Starfinder, they're shorter) AP chapters, then you get even more slack.

Wayfinders

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I'm in Kingbrendarr's group A. At this point, our group is pretty much Starfinder only, with lots of other groups doing PF/PF2. We are taking our time going through the APs every other week, so running out of material is less of a problem for those of us that don't travel to cons, and frequently when we are at cons we are GMing a lot. Of the core 7, 5 of us GM at least occasionally. Our main issue is probably the geek sudoku to get our high levels going through everything when one of us needs to split off to run a second table, and to catch up after con season. The newer people are just starting to get out of the 1 to 4s with their primary characters, so things should get a little better in that regard soon.

The principle problem for the other two groups seems to be a matter of consistency. I went through Dead Suns book 1 with what I suspect is one of those two groups a year ago, and then that AP just disappeared.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
Ya'll are gonna have to go Jadnura and rotate who's burning the replay

most of us are out of jadnura replays at this point. Currently building up my 3rd ssj character to do this also I will be trading like mad for a gencon boon 10


Glen Parnell wrote:

Another option is to play a lot of the replayables. Currently, it is possible to get 25 xp on any given character without touching any of the non-replayable scenarios.

Maybe see if you can get them to recruit a 3rd friend?

There is still a limitation on replayables. You can not replay the adventure with the same character. I am personally up to my 710 with my average character level being in the 4-6 range but I have to make a new 1-4 tier every month or so.

also if I could just plug in a magical 3rd player I would not be needed to step in for sustainability.


Raia of Jabask wrote:

I'm in Kingbrendarr's group A. At this point, our group is pretty much Starfinder only, with lots of other groups doing PF/PF2. We are taking our time going through the APs every other week, so running out of material is less of a problem for those of us that don't travel to cons, and frequently when we are at cons we are GMing a lot. Of the core 7, 5 of us GM at least occasionally. Our main issue is probably the geek sudoku to get our high levels going through everything when one of us needs to split off to run a second table, and to catch up after con season. The newer people are just starting to get out of the 1 to 4s with their primary characters, so things should get a little better in that regard soon.

The principle problem for the other two groups seems to be a matter of consistency. I went through Dead Suns book 1 with what I suspect is one of those two groups a year ago, and then that AP just disappeared.

The main issue is not in group A who runs at a well thought out pace that does not run faster than new content.

The problem I am finding is that by consistently running on the bleeding edge of content I am less able to support these other groups so that they can have consistency and build up as a play group. Forcing me to choose to play with only one group rather than supporting as many as I have time/spoons for

2/5

Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

One possible option, if group A is that consistent (which it sounds like it is) would be using alternate weeks for a home game rather than society game, if someone has a longer story they want to tell.

Dataphiles 4/5 ⦵⦵

Note:

pg. 9 Guide wrote:
You are permitted to replay an adventure in order to meet the minimum legal table size, with the following stipulations...Notify the GM:...No Spoilers:...Rewards: Replaying to make a legal table doesn’t earn any rewards. The Chronicle sheet for the adventure is a placeholder. It should note that the scenario has been replayed for no credit and awards no credits, Fame, Reputation, XP, boons, item access, or any other benefits or disadvantages. You must track consumables, purchases, and conditions acquired by playing the adventure. This is the only exception to not having two copies of the same Chronicle sheet assigned to one character.


"Dr." Cupi wrote:

Note:

pg. 9 Guide wrote:
You are permitted to replay an adventure in order to meet the minimum legal table size, with the following stipulations...Notify the GM:...No Spoilers:...Rewards: Replaying to make a legal table doesn’t earn any rewards. The Chronicle sheet for the adventure is a placeholder. It should note that the scenario has been replayed for no credit and awards no credits, Fame, Reputation, XP, boons, item access, or any other benefits or disadvantages. You must track consumables, purchases, and conditions acquired by playing the adventure. This is the only exception to not having two copies of the same Chronicle sheet assigned to one character.

this is great news and I will certainly be using this a bit =) not sure how I missed this

I do however feel that allowing more replays for benefits in these relatively new days of society play will incentivise more players to support more groups


Glen Parnell wrote:

Another option is to play a lot of the replayables. Currently, it is possible to get 25 xp on any given character without touching any of the non-replayable scenarios.

Maybe see if you can get them to recruit a 3rd friend?

on further review... can they infact get 25 exp ?

while discussing this after an event it was pointed out that there is still only one 3-6 repeatable and 2-00 sorta. So it kinda looks like you have lot of variety for how you get those 14 exp unless I am missing something

Second Seekers (Jadnura) ⦵⦵⦵

I am the organizer for these groups. We have no issue scheduling for the core group. With so many willing to GM now I have been able to both play and GM over 80 tables each of Starfinder, including nearly all scenarios and APs to date. The issue is the inconsistency of the non- core folks. There are almost enough that we can have a 2nd table going each week, but because of their varied schedules it’s hard to find something all of them can play - we have pretty much exhausted the 1-4 repeatables. My experience is that once they become consistent enough to get above level 4 it’s not as hard to find content that works for everyone, but until then usually someone has to sacrifice playing for credit in order get them there.

In the past we have had players just use pre-gens so they could play, but in trying to encourage newer players I generally try to schedule something they can play on their own character.

So while Jadnura replays and the new GenCon Boon help, I would rather have players use such replays for other things if we could help it (author run games for example).

Anyway getting back to the OPs main point - if we didn’t limit the replay ability of scenarios it would be way easier to fill out two or more tables on a regular basis. And not just for us but for the other Pathfinder and Starfinder groups around here. There is always tons of discussion concerning what is going to be run by whom and who can play. If replaying was universally allowed, I guess it could cut down on demand for new content, and thus perhaps affect Paizo’s bottom line. But Organized Play is it’s own entity now and could conceivably make that change. I think it merits discussing the pros and cons of such a change rather than merely accepting the status quo and discussing work arounds. This is after all the basis behind continuous improvement.

Dataphiles 4/5 ⦵⦵

The decision for the lack of replay is rooted in the concept that many people abused the ability to replay. They would sit at a table of which they have already played and ruin the scenario through extreme metagaming. Basically, "someone did something stupid, so we made a rule against it". Or "someone did something stupid and ruined it for the rest of us". It was a similar occurrence with the aasimiar/tiefling thing. Now when OrgP changes an availability it is not announced ahead of time.

As nice as it would be to alleviate the lack of replays burden, it just is. It just is, not because of "tradition" or the "status quo", but because it sadly must be. While I appreciate that it would help out those who have altruistic intentions, those with more selfish intentions could just ruin those same games through the same channel. I do not support unlimited replays.

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

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Stepping in here for a moment to address just a little bit of the discussion.

First, on the topic of replays an "tradition / status quo", I'd like to say that I think Starfinder has really bucked this trend. We had 6 repeatable scenarios/quest packs in our first season alone, not including any of the Adventure Path line that typically had a repeatable scenario. That gave us almost 10 different unique means of replaying scenarios, beyond other concepts like Nova replays or the released Jadnura boons. Overall, I think we've shaken up that "status quo" a fair bit in order to test the waters with how this system works in the wild.

Having said that, I think I've seen both the benefits and drawbacks for an increased replay system. On one hand, I've certainly see how it has helped organizers and has allowed us to get more players playing the game (this is a huge positive). However, I've also seen this create a much more galvanized "track" for players to follow, where they create an ideal path of content to follow in order to maximize the amount of regular content they can play. This creates some hurdles from a development standpoint, especially when considering the addition of Adventure Paths, as it creates a division of players who reach the highest-levels very quickly, while other players remain in the low to mid level brackets. Again, all of this is very anecdotal, but the number of players I personally know who've engineered efficient leveling paths with replayable content is high enough that I do believe it is something happening in our communities (especially online). It's also creating a strong cadre of players who want more high-level content, when it's clear that those scenarios would only appeal to a very small group of our overall playerbase—seriously, the impact of these types of changes in a large system is fascinating!

Going back to the OP's post, I know that we're offering far more than was offered back at the launch of Pathfinder first edition, but that playable content is an issue in some communities. I can understand wanting to have available content all the time, but I'm still unsure if unlimited replays forever is the right way to handle it. For now, I'm going to continue releasing regular replayable content, and over the coming months, I believe that we'll have even more content to help alleviate some of these concerns. I'm happy that we're working on a bit more low-mid repeatable content that should help the playerbase out with some content that should be easy to routinely slot into a game group schedule.

-Thursty

Second Seekers (Jadnura) ⦵⦵⦵

Well such meta gaming already can and does occur with the current system. I think people are going to be jerks regardless. But I can understand there is concern for abuse. As a player, there are some scenarios I would love to play with all my characters, and I have used replays to facilitate this. But I personally would find it boring to play the same set of scenarios to level up a new character - something very common in video games.

Anyway I think there has to be more than meta gaming that prevents more replays. What are the other issues? I am not looking for votes here but rather to understand the issues since I am admittedly newer to society play.

Edit: Well Thursty addressed some of this and seemed to give a definitive answer regardless. I would like to point out that although I have never replayed an AP nor played online that I am one of the few players I know of with two level 12 characters as well as a 9 and 8. I was able to engineer efficiency of leveling by equally GMing and playing, whereas I think many players focus on one or the other more. This actually would seem like the desired balance for an active game, yet I guess it puts me in the high level content hungry crowd.

That said, I do have a question about decision making in Organized Play. If it is truly a separate entity from Paizo the company, how and by whom are such decisions being made? What say do the players and volunteers have as compared to the organized play folks at Paizo?


Thurston Hillman wrote:

Stepping in here for a moment to address just a little bit of the discussion.

First, on the topic of replays an "tradition / status quo", I'd like to say that I think Starfinder has really bucked this trend. We had 6 repeatable scenarios/quest packs in our first season alone, not including any of the Adventure Path line that typically had a repeatable scenario. That gave us almost 10 different unique means of replaying scenarios, beyond other concepts like Nova replays or the released Jadnura boons. Overall, I think we've shaken up that "status quo" a fair bit in order to test the waters with how this system works in the wild.

Having said that, I think I've seen both the benefits and drawbacks for an increased replay system. On one hand, I've certainly see how it has helped organizers and has allowed us to get more players playing the game (this is a huge positive). However, I've also seen this create a much more galvanized "track" for players to follow, where they create an ideal path of content to follow in order to maximize the amount of regular content they can play. This creates some hurdles from a development standpoint, especially when considering the addition of Adventure Paths, as it creates a division of players who reach the highest-levels very quickly, while other players remain in the low to mid level brackets. Again, all of this is very anecdotal, but the number of players I personally know who've engineered efficient leveling paths with replayable content is high enough that I do believe it is something happening in our communities (especially online). It's also creating a strong cadre of players who want more high-level content, when it's clear that those scenarios would only appeal to a very small group of our overall playerbase—seriously, the impact of these types of changes in a large system is fascinating!

Going back to the OP's post, I know that we're offering far more than was offered back at the launch of Pathfinder first edition, but that playable content is an issue in some...

As an organizer for another system I fully understand that there are implications by allowing unlimited replays and I have seen the "farming mentality" and what it can do to a community so I strongly respect your perspective here and I appreciate it as well.

As you pointed out Starfinder is so far shaping into a very different kind of community. One of the reasons I am excited to play in the Organized Play environment is this community. You have done very well on this and the intent I had is to help you shape it in a continuing positive direction. By offering you hands on experience and how it is impacting me personally and potentially others.

If I were to be asked what I wanted I would say I do not want unlimited replays forever.
I want a fix that enables me to foster more groups right now while the game is young so that people want to stay for many years rather than moving on because they did not feel engaged.

That can be things like you have done with Jadnura replays and convention boons but a good deal more in circulation until your content catches up to allow this more freely. Or it could be another temporary fix like making certain modules repeatable for a limited time I recognize this is a lot more difficult on the back end and dont expect that it would be used but it's something I thought of.

In a nutshell I feel like it wont be a problem forever but it's a big problem for creating communities right now.

Second Seekers (Jadnura) ⦵⦵⦵

Along the lines of what Kingbrendarr suggests, perhaps we could create a modified replay rule that would address both the meta gaming issues Dr. Cupi mentioned, the efficient "track" for fast leveling that Thursty mentioned, and the so far unsaid but I am sure still a concern of cannibalizing demand for newly released content (though I don't think that would be a huge issue really), while also helping build community.

What if we did this: Players are allowed to replay a season 1 scenario once one year has passed since it was previously played. This would allow players to go back to revisit really cool older scenarios, it would allow new folks and veteran folks to play together on tables and thus build community and mentoring of newer players, it would also make power leveling a whole lot harder with replays because of the long wait, and the time between replays would be long enough to help stem the meta gaming issues since players would likely forget a lot of what happened before. This could be applied to just one season, to all seasons. On the tracking side, it would be easy enough to flag the time difference in the database, and for players we already trust them to identify what they have played already, so now we have to ask them to confirm the dates as well.

Anyway I am not suggesting completely changing anything that has worked pretty well for the past ten+ years for organized play, but I am suggesting that it is okay to consider how things might be improved without breaking a system. This is how organizations get better in the long run after all.


Thurston Hillman wrote:


However, I've also seen this create a much more galvanized "track" for players to follow, where they create an ideal path of content to follow in order to maximize the amount of regular content they can play. This creates some hurdles from a development standpoint, especially when considering the addition of Adventure Paths, as it creates a division of players who reach the highest-levels very quickly, while other players remain in the low to mid level brackets.

I asked this earlier to someone else, but. Is there currently a way to get past level 5 with the current replays ?

I have a huge log jam of characters at level 5-6 because there seems to be only the one re playable adventure in the mid tiers. that would seem to indicate that you have been very successful in preventing the fast track so far and it sounds like you have content to support the mid tiers "soon" but if I am missing something in the wild already

*jadnura replays are how some got to 6

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

I really like Thursty's post, and the only thing I would add is that one could perhaps make the Jadnura boon generic, letting players of all factions purchase it based on their characters access to all-faction boons.

This is just my personal opinion, but I have characters that like to identify a bit more with their factions and Jadnura is a bit controversial, for some characters he is a kind of hero, for others, he is an idiot with blood on his hands.

As much as I love Starfinder, I already find it hard to keep up with all the new scenarios and products Paizo produces, but I also GM about as much as I get to play and there are only so many hours in the day.

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

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I have mixed feelings about the Jadnura boon. It's powerful, it's convenient, but I don't find it very enjoyable. I'm being seduced to join a faction not because its theme appeals to me, but because it's a boon that far, far outclasses the other boons in Starfinder. Replaying scenarios is just on a whole other level from getting the odd +2 here and there.


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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I have mixed feelings about the Jadnura boon. It's powerful, it's convenient, but I don't find it very enjoyable. I'm being seduced to join a faction not because its theme appeals to me, but because it's a boon that far, far outclasses the other boons in Starfinder. Replaying scenarios is just on a whole other level from getting the odd +2 here and there.

particularly in an environment with limited replays

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

Kingbrendarr wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I have mixed feelings about the Jadnura boon. It's powerful, it's convenient, but I don't find it very enjoyable. I'm being seduced to join a faction not because its theme appeals to me, but because it's a boon that far, far outclasses the other boons in Starfinder. Replaying scenarios is just on a whole other level from getting the odd +2 here and there.
particularly in an environment with limited replays

Yeah, but that doesn't put me in the "no limits on replays then" camp. More the opposite, "should this boon exist at all, it's way too invasive".

I was pretty happy with the amount of replay in PFS1 actually, as in, I had a nice amount of GM star replay that refreshed yearly with the Expanded Narrative, and scenarios like Wounded Wisp and Tome of Righteous Repose gave a bit of room too. But not quite the "curriculum" effect that Thurston is talking about.

I personally don't enjoy replaying very much. Apart from the real abuses spoken about, there's also the risk of people being jaded about the adventure, they've seen it before. Except maybe for the new guy, but he's playing with a bunch of jaded people and that's really not the most enjoyable thing.

The scenarios I've enjoyed replaying most were generally low-plot things like Tome of Righteous Repose that leverage a lot of variety in possible encounters with significant combat challenge. Replaying a more high-plot scenario doesn't have quite the shine that discovering the story the first time has.


Lau Bannenberg wrote:
Kingbrendarr wrote:
Lau Bannenberg wrote:
I have mixed feelings about the Jadnura boon. It's powerful, it's convenient, but I don't find it very enjoyable. I'm being seduced to join a faction not because its theme appeals to me, but because it's a boon that far, far outclasses the other boons in Starfinder. Replaying scenarios is just on a whole other level from getting the odd +2 here and there.
particularly in an environment with limited replays

Yeah, but that doesn't put me in the "no limits on replays then" camp. More the opposite, "should this boon exist at all, it's way too invasive".

didnt say at ANY point that unlimited replays should be a thing. What I said in this particular moment though is that it is very powerful because of the limited replays. So much so that I have multiple characters in that faction rather than exploring anything else the other factions have to offer.

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