Game Style and Other Notes.   Posted by Zag.Group: 0
Zag
 GM, 13 posts
Tue 28 Dec 2021
at 05:32
Game Style and Other Notes
Text should be written in third person, present tense.  I like the immediacy of present tense, and, once you are used to it, you won't find it to be a problem.

You should strive for decent grammar, punctuation, and spelling, though it isn't a requirement.  Remember that there are several readers of each note, but only one writer, so it makes sense for each writer to spend a little extra time to make the note easier to read.  Feel free to correct my grammar, if you can find any mistakes, but beware that such a foolish action opens the door to my correcting yours, and I have yet to be bested.  You have been warned.

Colorizing speech is optional.  As long as your punctuation is correct it is not necessary, but feel free to do it if you like.  However, no one is allowed to use the color yellow, because it aggravates my otherwise-mild dyslexia.
Zag
 GM, 14 posts
Tue 28 Dec 2021
at 05:32
Taking Control of NPC's
Feel free to take a little control over the NPC's, especially ones that do not have names, and even make them up if it is clear that this sort of person would reasonably be around.  Give them a little personality, and they might get names, or you can feel free to name them.  If these NPC's recur, I'll add them to the Notable Characters thread.

If you've ever played in a Fate-based game, you'll immediately understand what I mean.  It is common in that sort of game, where the point of the game is more shared storytelling.  Feel free to add color to the world, and I'll make it work within what I already know.  Don't be surprised, however, if I put a twist on a character that you invented.  It is still my game, after all.

For example, suppose your character, Bralton, wants to transport something out of town that is too large for a wagon.  You want to slip it out without the careful scrutiny of the city watch, so you decide that a flatboat going down the river is the best choice.  Having read my city notes, you know that there are flatboat docks on the riverside all along Tsiel Plain, The Market, and most of Westham, but Tsiel Plain is the roughest of those three areas, so the best place to contact someone who will work under the law.   After a Gather Information roll of 26, you might write all of the following -- all of it made up from whole cloth.  I would be happy for you to make up these characters and all of this conversation.

Bralton:
Bralton gets off the Vine Ave Ferry on the Tsiel Plain side and heads east along the docks.  Just opposite the raceway he spies a gray-haired man huddled in a lean-to made from broken packing crates.  The man is holding a thin, ragged blanket about himself and seems to be talking to no one in particular.  His eyes dart back and forth, along the docks, and it is clear that he has already studied Bralton before the dwarf even knew he was being watched.

"Hey there, old-timer," calls Bralton once he is only a few steps away.  "Can I ask you a few questions?"

The old man looks down, not meeting the warrior's eyes, "I di'n't see nothing.  I don't want any trouble."

"You didn't see ...?  Never mind.  It's nothing like that.  I just was hoping you could recommend a flatboat captain I could talk to.  I have something to move, something fairly large, and I'm looking for someone who can be discreet."  Bralton pulls his flask from his pocket, takes a swig, then holds it out for the stranger.  "I would really appreciate a good recommendation."

"You'd 'preciate it, maybe a gold piece worth?"  The man reaches out slowly, then snatches the flask and pulls it away quickly, as if yanking it away before the trap could be sprung.  He takes a strong pull, then holds the flask out again.

"Oh, sure.  I could give you one gold now, AND another when my business with him is done ... IF everything goes smoothly."  The dwarf gestures for the man to take another drink.

The old beggar bites his lip, as if calculating the exact value of a promised gold piece.  Finally he blurts out, "Captain Marchek, of Johnny's Goal.  He an ugly cuss, and the boat looks like it's 'bout to sink, but he can keep his mout' shut."  The man holds out the now-empty flask and an empty hand.  "He down around pier 34, maybe 36."

Bralton takes the flask and hands him a gold coin.  "Thank you kindly, my friend.  You stay warm," he calls as he marches off to the east, looking at the pier numbers.

The point here is that the player knew that along the docks there have to be flatboats run by discreet captains, and a Gather Information roll of 26 is certainly enough to find one.  The area is a bit run down, so it's appropriate that there is a homeless ex-sailor nearby, which seems as good a source as any to get the information.  It's also fine to make up the name of the captain and the boat -- they have to have names, and the alternative is that I have to make them up.

By writing up the entire bit of role-play, however, the player has created another real character (two, actually) who live in the city and might interact with the PC's in the future.  In fact, if the player remembers to come back with the second gold piece and maybe a warm blanket, he will have a friend on the docks who might be a source of more important information in the future.  And the whole thing was entertaining!  (At least, I find it entertaining.)

This message was last edited by the GM at 06:00, Tue 28 Dec 2021.

Zag
 GM, 15 posts
Tue 28 Dec 2021
at 05:40
NPC Levels
There is a fair bit of debate over what level is appropriate for players and NPC's.  Here's how it works in my world.

Approximately half the people in the world are 0-level.  This includes most children, and people who live quiet, fairly easy lives; Bob Cratchit and his wife, for instance.

About one third of the rest are level 1 or 2.  This would include people who are regularly in bar fights, otherwise live fairly rough lives, or have significant experience with some sort of weapon or weapon-equivalent.  Most (nameless) sailors, for instance, would be in this group, as would a random butcher, chef, or blacksmith.

Someone with a little authority or with another reason to have some experience in the world will typically be level 3-7.  A nameless, law-abiding flatboat captain or a bouncer at a bar is probably level 3 or 4 (fighter), a (random) pirate captain is probably level 6 or 7 (fighter or rogue).  The hired guards at an expensive jewelry shop would be level 4-7.

Someone with a significant role, whose names are widely known, will be level 5-9.  The Queen's head of security is in the 10-12 range.  A well-known pirate captain might be as high as 12th level (or an infamous, legendary one could be any level).  There are legendary or semi-legendary characters who are higher, but it is unlikely that the PCs will interact with them.

This is just intended to give you an idea of the distribution, and is not meant to be something you can count on.  It isn't out of the question that the weapons merchant happens to be an ex-adventurer and is still a 12th level fighter with an extremely well-made sword behind the counter.  (In fact, the likelihood grows the more you count on it not happening.)  While that occurrence is pretty unlikely, the merchant guild does have access to such people and will call on them if characters like you cause trouble.
Zag
 GM, 126 posts
Sat 19 Mar 2022
at 19:47
Game Style and Other Notes
This is not a rule change, it is the standard Pathfinder rules, but a lot of people aren't aware of it.  Since I like to use skills a lot, I thought I'd make sure it was clear.

When rolling skills in Pathfinder, a natural 1 and a natural 20 are NOT automatic failures or successes.  They are just one worse than a natural 2 / one better than a 19.  If there is a skill check for which a 1 would be enough to succeed, you don't even have to roll.  Similarly, if there is one in which a natural 20 would not be enough (such as the assistant's perception roll to spot Ricka hiding when she rolled a 27 on her Stealth check), there is no point in rolling -- he's already failed.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:12, Wed 23 Mar 2022.

Zag
 GM, 140 posts
Thu 24 Mar 2022
at 00:40
Game Style and Other Notes
I bring this up only because it came up in a game I play in.

If I make a decision you're not happy with, about PathFinder rules, interpretation of what is possible, or whatever, please bring it up.  This is intended to be fun for all of us.  If you're sitting there annoyed at me because of some off-hand decision I made, then you're not having fun, which is bad.  I'm not promising I'll change the ruling, but I'm glad to consider it.  I have to make a lot of little decisions in the game and I'm sure I haven't made every one correctly.