Question on Table Variation


Organized Play General Discussion

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I was reading through the Game Master Basics on the Organized Play Foundation page and had a question on Table Variation. My group specifically likes to use popcorn initiative. I was wondering if that would be affected by this point

No alteration of mechanics of player characters,

Technically my players still roll for initiative at the start of the first round and we go popcorn from there. Would popcorn initiative be accepted in a Convention setting?

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

What is popcorn initiative? Never heard of that term.

How initiative is used is clearly set out in the CRB and is not really something that is subject to table variation.

For your local group, it is likely ok, but I don't see it being used at a convention.

Grand Lodge 4/5 **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

Popcorn Initiative: (Not sure if this is the one the poster means.)

Popcorn

This would not be allowed at *any* pathfinder society table, (convention or home game) and definitely alters the base mechanics of the game (especially hazards which typically go at a specific initiative order.)

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Yeah. Agree this way of doing initiative is not legal for PFS tables regardless of where they are played.

If the OP is using this type of initiative to play an AP, they can. But if they are playing PFS adventures for PFS credit, it can't be used.

Thanks Jared for the information on what Popcorn Initiative means.

Additionally, how dying works in 2e is not compatible.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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Popcorn Initiative is not an instance of Table Variation. It's Houseruling.

4/5 ****

Table variation is things like: this ability doesn't list a range, a reasonable gm might choose 30 or 60.

Or a player wants to climb a tapestry that's pictured on the map but not otherwise described.

One gm says judging by the age of these ruins it's too rotten to climb. Another says sure it's dc 15 while another says sure it's dc 20. And yet another gm drew the map in a way that didn't even include the tapestry.

The Exchange 3/5

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I would expect the definition of table variation will vary by table.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

Hulking Hurler wrote:
I would expect the definition of table variation will vary by table.

While I agree, the question asked is not an instance of table variation.


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

On the subject of table variation. I'm guessing that a GM is not required to own the flipmat, or digital version of the specified flipmat to run a pathfinder (or even starfinder) society adventure for credit.

I'm assuming they are welcome to freehand draw the map, or even for some adventures/quests/bounties that might allow for it simply go through it in largely descriptive manner.

My question however is, if we own a different flipmat of similar genre and reasonably includes the required elements described in the story, but aren't the indicated map. Can we choose to use that map?

An example... if you have an encounter that is supposed to have a cauldron in front of a house that is in a rural small village-like (maybe even hamlet-like) setting with a dirt road and a few other cottages on a 24x36 map. Would that be viable? If you have a forest map that isn't identical, but is similar can you use it instead and either place the hidden traps in the exact same squares, or in approximately similar locations as they seem appropriate according to the given map, but keeping the same flavor, and general strategy.

I ask, because if I were to freehand a battlemap of a forest trying to make it look like the one in a book, it might not be much more identifiable to the original as using another map. I know I'd mess up trunk placement and such. The village, I'd probably do much better, but would just have lines for walls and hedges and fences and would lose a lot of the other details.

So if I have another similar village map, and it fits the general description of battle area, would it be ok to use for a sanctioned PFS game? Your discussion of how someone might have drawn a room with a tapestry, while in another the way drawn didn't include it, so the question never came up, sparked the thought and question. Additionally, it no doubt came to mind as I was looking for a map to use for the most recent Bounty were I to try to use it for playtest purposes.

Obviously, for home use/non pfs reported games the answer is obviously yes, but I've been trying to keep in mind trying to be able to run some PFS games so it might be a factor in how easy it would be to get one going.

Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

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I have played in adventures where a different map than called for in the scenario was used. As long as the encounter is ran as it is written, everything should be ok.

And my hand drawn map rarely look like the original map.

Grand Lodge 4/5 **** Venture-Captain, California—Sacramento

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This is a case of "use your judgement".

If the encounter calls for the NPCs (or PCs) to make use of choke points, or cover or other features, make sure those features are represented on your map in as close as you can to the map in the scenario.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Hulking Hurler wrote:
I would expect the definition of table variation will vary by table.

Table variation is variation you can expect within the rules and the scenario, either because the rules are vague, the scenario doesn't cover it, or the players did something weird. For example, when trying to catch someone alive in starfinder society they drop to zero. One DM can say their head explodes at 0 unless they were hit with a non lethal weapon, one dm may say they have 3 rounds to get stabalized. Both are legal ways to run the rules.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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To accommodate visually impaired players and create an equal experience for everyone I have been known to eschew maps and run combats descriptively.

So, certainly, if your hand drawn map bleeds over a couple squares, or if you use the "Deep Forest" map in place of the "Dark Forest" map, I think that's fine.

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So, popcorn would fall under House Ruling. Can some one point me to something on the Organized Play Foundation website that covers this kind of thing?

2/5 5/5 **

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Organized Play Guide, Expectations, Rules Variations wrote:
From time to time, players might encounter different rules sources with minor variations in the rules. In general, the most current printing of the English version of the rulebook in question should be treated as the definitive source. In the case of the this guide the most current printing is the English version on this web page.

House rules are, by definition, not in any printing of the rulebooks.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Zioalca wrote:
So, popcorn would fall under House Ruling. Can some one point me to something on the Organized Play Foundation website that covers this kind of thing?

Its.. kind of every single sentence of the guide. You have to play by the rules of the game, that isn't one of them and breaks them kind of badly.

Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

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This seems like trying to prove a negative.

There are innumerable things you can't do. The Pathfinder ruleset and Guide to Organized Play tell you what you can do.

If I GMed an Adventure League game and told players to use Perception for Initiative, I'd get weird looks.

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

Loreguard wrote:
On the subject of table variation. I'm guessing that a GM is not required to own the flipmat, or digital version of the specified flipmat to run a pathfinder (or even starfinder) society adventure for credit.

Nope, you don't have to own the maps. That would be a grotesquely expensive imposition.

Of course in online play it's a bit different because you can extract the image of the map out of the scenario PDF and use it in your VTT.

Loreguard wrote:
I'm assuming they are welcome to freehand draw the map, or even for some adventures/quests/bounties that might allow for it simply go through it in largely descriptive manner.

Some encounters take place on a map just in case the players suddenly go berserk and pick a fight, but really the intent is for them to handle it diplomatically. In those cases, it may actually work much better to not run the encounter on a map and only resort to a map if a fight breaks out. As soon as people see a grid they start thinking combat, and you don't want that.

Loreguard wrote:
My question however is, if we own a different flipmat of similar genre and reasonably includes the required elements described in the story, but aren't the indicated map. Can we choose to use that map?

Use your judgement, and pay good attention to what the scenario does on the map. In particular, look to see if the opposition is making use of terrain elements, or if there's some kind of mobility challenge.

Recently for example, I played a scenario where the party has to get to the other side of the map within a few rounds to defuse some bombs. In addition, the terrain didn't make it very easy, there were multiple height differences and enemies in the way. That's a case where using a different map could really change the scenario.

But if you take reasonable care to ensure the alternate map doesn't materially change the way the scenario unfolds, then it's not a problem.

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Lau Bannenberg wrote:
As soon as people see a grid they start thinking combat, and you don't want that.

I agree that the statement is true, but I think breaking people of the habit is worth a few unnecessary / counterproductive combats. Players quickly figure out "we're in initiative" and "we're in combat" are separate statements.

4/5 ****

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Do Not Cheat

"Cheating behaviors include, but are not limited to, ... using unapproved resources"

A web page written by a third party (or for that matter, any third party product), is not an approved resource

Rules Variations

"From time to time, players might encounter different rules sources with minor variations in the rules. In general, the most current printing of the English version of the rulebook in question should be treated as the definitive source."

This rule contradicts the rules in the rulebook, which is the definitive source.

Table Variation

  • No changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, statistics, traits, or weapons.
  • No alteration of mechanics of player characters,

    Table variation and Creative solutions (Appendix)

    "As a Pathfinder Society GM, you have the right and responsibility to make whatever judgments, within the rules, that you feel are necessary at your table to ensure everyone has a fair and fun experience. This does not mean you can contradict rules or restrictions outlined in this document, a published Pathfinder source, errata document, or official FAQ on paizo.com."

    Major changes to core rules elements violate *all* of those lines of the guide. If the community as a whole agrees that this is not clear, then the guide team will amend the document to make it more clear.

  • Grand Lodge 4/5 ** Venture-Agent, Colorado—Denver

    Hah! "Popcorn Initiative". It's kind of silly but I kinda like it. I might have to give it a try in my D&D5e homegame in the future.

    Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

    Zioalca wrote:
    So, popcorn would fall under House Ruling. Can some one point me to something on the Organized Play Foundation website that covers this kind of thing?

    Basically if something is not in an authorized source it is a House Rule.

    Why is Popcorn so important to you and your group?

    5/5 5/55/55/5

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    Christian Dragos wrote:
    Hah! "Popcorn Initiative". It's kind of silly but I kinda like it. I might have to give it a try in my D&D5e homegame in the future.

    Too abusable. Win initiative, entire party acts, the bad guys are half dead before they can respond

    Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

    Or, have the combo PC delay until the end, cast their buffs, then immediately start the next round.

    Grand Archive 4/5 ****

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    For a home game, If you really want to model "the chaos of battle," have the GM roll everyone's initiative checks in secret, and then reroll them at the start of every round... (note this still would not be legal in PFS.)


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    "Popcorn Initiative" also allows players to ostracize other players, and force them to the end of the initiative order.

    It's a table-variation of the playground "Keep Away" game where a child is teased by bullies snatching an item and tossing it around to each other, keeping it away from the target.

    That same group dynamic is in play if the players play 'keep away' with initiative, and don't allow someone to use their skills and actions in a timely manner.

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

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    First, I have to agree that "popcorn" initiative would not be allowed at any official PFS table, though if you were playing an adventure path or module in "campaign mode" you are free to do whatever you want as long as you generally follow the story narrative. Hell you don't even need to use Pathfinder rules for the game. You could run it using D&D5E or BECMI, or Shadowrun, or whatever. Its a "weird" condition that many casual players are unaware of.

    More importantly, why would anyone want to use this system? After reading the article linked above, this initiative variant does not seem to mesh with the Pathfinder system. Not to mention the author's attitude is fairly confrontational given his commentary,
    "Doesn’t This Encourage Metagaming?
    Who gives a s#&$? Seriously. Shut up."

    Spoiler:
    Please take my comments with a grain of salt as I admit that I find the Angry GM to be generally arrogant, obnoxious, and self-absorbed and therefore my opinion of anything they publish to be skewed by my own confirmation bias

    All this system does is make it a race between the PCs and the GM to be first. Whichever group "wins" is almost always going to go in its entirety before the other, except maybe in the case where encounter distance is an issue and you allow the bad guys to go first so they can expend their actions to close the distance.

    If metagaming is something you are at all concerned with, popcorn init is a terrible system. Besides, with PF2E's delay action, you can simulate this variant almost exactly using the base game rules.

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

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    Okay, yeah. After reading the full article, I better understand how the Popcorn init works. CrystalSea's "keep away" analogy nailed it.

    Doesn't sound very fun anymore. Quite silly, though.

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    Um... I honestly just wanted someone to point me to a specific resource so I could further clarify it to my group when it comes up. I was in no way trying to defend it.

    I will say my group prefers popcorn because it forces people to pay closer attention to the game and get more into character along with understanding what others can do. Is it abusable? Absolutely. Just wanted to have a better idea on it and table variation rules as I work towards getting more into society game play. I would personally like to volunteer at conventions when that becomes a thing again. So, there you go. Thank you everyone who chipped in and I hope those of you who discovered popcorn initiative here give it a try and see if it works for you group in an unstructured setting

    Grand Archive 4/5 ****

    No problem. I can see how in the right group it could be a fun system.

    5/5 5/55/55/5

    I'm assuming this is for PFS 2

    Rules Variations

    From time to time, players might encounter different rules sources with minor variations in the rules. In general, the most current printing of the English version of the rulebook in question should be treated as the definitive source. In the case of the this guide the most current printing is the English version on this web page

    So you have to use initiative as described in the rules.

    Table Variation

    A goal of the Pathfinder Society program is to provide a fun, engaging, consistent experience at all tables. GMs should run Pathfinder Society adventures as written, which mean

    It's really inconsistent if you're using popcorn initiative and most other folks aren't. Mmm popcorn...

    No changes to armor, feats, items, skills, spells, statistics, traits, or weapons.
    No alteration of mechanics of player characters,

    Changing Franklin the turtles initiative from -1 to "acts right after Barry Allen and his +12 initiative" is a really big change in his stat block.

    Changing the monster from a +10 initiative where "a really fast party member might beat it" to will act after the entire party" is a pretty big change to their statblock and tactics.

    (I'm not the most familiar with pf2 but If i'm readying the hieroglyphics right this may work.... Someone else check this idea)

    Where you could use popcorn initiative with 99% effectiveness is in between the bad guys (worse guys? Antagonists?) Turns. One character can delay for another letting the PCs within a "block" of initiative. So for example, If your Rogue fighter and bard are about to act in that order, you can let the bard go first for the buffs the fighter move into position to provide a flank and then the rogue move around to gank with the flank.

    With one opponent, or with one group of linked opponents like a swarm of Kobolds, this becomes popcorn initiative after the first round. With a mixed group..not so much.

    you also need to watch poisons and such to go in their regular order. Franklin the turtle can't delay till after Bandaid the cleric to get the poison out before it does its thing.

    Big Bad

    Wizard
    Rogue
    Bard <--- Popcorn Bucket 1

    Minions 1 and 2

    Fighter
    Cleric <---- Popcorn bucket 2

    Once you eliminate the minions between buckets you can pour one into another.

    mmm popcornn....

    *

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    I had a similar conclusion with one of my players. If everyone just delayed their turn so they could all go in order, it would play out very similar to popcorn. The real meta of it is that my players have to deal with not letting the enemies get the last turn on the round. Enemies attacking back to back is just as strong as players choosing when they get to go. Since hazards have initiative as well, they can be popped just like anything else and players still make death saves if they are down.

    Anyway, a separate question. What is the consensus on using the critical hit and critical fumble decks in society play? I'll also be picking up the hero point deck when that comes out.

    Sczarni 5/5 5/55/5 ***

    I don't believe they're on the list of approved resources.

    Not everything Paizo publishes is fit for Organized Play.

    *

    Ah, good to know

    Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

    Zioalca wrote:
    Anyway, a separate question. What is the consensus on using the critical hit and critical fumble decks in society play? I'll also be picking up the hero point deck when that comes out.

    For Pathfinder, as Nefreet already pointed out, they are not legal. However for Starfinder, my memory, which has been known to make things up sometimes, recalls that the decks are allow but only in a very tightly controlled manner. But I could be wrong.

    Grand Archive 4/5 ****

    That said, for face to face play, the Conditions deck is invaluable.

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    Oh, it absolutely is. I love the condition deck for face to face and greatly miss it in VTT. It's really hard to account for persistent damage that is of a die type as opposed to a solid number.

    Liberty's Edge 3/5 5/5 **** Venture-Captain, Nebraska—Omaha

    Not sure what VTT you are using, but Roll20 has markers that can be added to the token to help keep track of conditions. There are several different custom sets that have been made so one does not have to use the generic Roll20 markers.

    There is also "character sheets" out there called Condition Goblins that have macros setup to give details on a selected condition.

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    I'm in FoundryVTT. It has all of the conditions and applies them correctly to the tokens. The only one I have to hand do is persistent damage. I am able to put a marker for it on the token affected but it really only lets me adjust a solid number, not set a die to the damage. I've just been putting it in the notes for the token. Just not near as good as having the condition card out, which my desk is a bit to crowded to do when I'm running a game in VTT. Otherwise it has been a wonderful upgrade from Roll20.

    2/5 5/5 *****

    Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

    Handling of persistent damage is one of my favorite things about Fantasy Grounds. It automates the end of round rolling of damage (and can handle having multiple different types of persistent damage applied), and automates rolling the normal recovery check. I know Roll20 doesn't do automation, but getting better/more customizable markers (even just being about to put 'd6' as the label on a marker instead of just a single digit would be helpful. I'm sure Foundry can go the same path as Fantasy Grounds, once someone writes the code for it.

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