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Play Pathfinder and Pathfinder Society (PFS) online with us! AustNet's Pathfinder and D&D IRC channel. Our regulars come from all over Australia and we have an increasing playerbase from Asia and the US. We play any tabletop roleplaying game (mostly PFS, currently) via IRC and use a custom program called Combat Assistant created by Ballig to map combat.
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Roleplaying in PFS by Avatar
General Gabble #12 - 29 December 2014This was originally written by Matt Goodall on Facebook, but Facebook's format means his very valuable articles are being lost to the deluge of posts over time, so I'm reposting them here.
I want more roleplaying in PFS. I want people's characters to have personality not just stats, so I'm writing some tips and I'm hoping others will jump in and add to it.
PFS is different to a home campaign where you play with the same friends every time and you can't expect the GM or other players to lead into your background or tease out your story, you have to bring it/shout it out yourself.
Voice/Accent: Have one. raise it higher, lower it, make it faster/slower, choose an accent, it helps in multiple ways. It lets others at the table know you are talking in character, and what you aren't. It adds to the realism of the game. It makes you realise how much/little you are talking in character. It actually makes you act more in character, it helps you think like your character. Watch out for and listen to voices from all kinds of media, PC games, movies, music, and take from that and use it. I find that having a simple phase that I say in that voice really gets me into character for the game. My latest character really comes to life for me when he introduces himself with a strong 'Transylvanian' (Ustalavian) accent.
From the last session I can still remember Phil's 'Arnold Schwarzenegger' accent for his Hellknight Conrad shouting "What the hell is going on?", Andrei's sniveling toad Randolf (with an F not a PH) Kulpher yelling, "I always knew you'd turn on me Savroth" in his wormtongue voice just before hitting poor Savroth with the full unholy power of Asmodeus, and Shaun's Savroth voice that always reminds me of a weird butler for some reason, with little phrases like "good..." and "yessss" that really reinforce the feeling that Savroth is both abhorrent and strangely compelling at the same time.
Sorry, no excuses like:
- "I'm shy/quiet" - sorry it's a roleplaying game, a social activity, talking is 95% of how we communicate at the table.
- "My accent will be terrible" - guess what, any voice/accent is better than none at all. I once played with 2 players playing halflings, they raised their voices to be really squeaky, it was a little harsh on the ears at first but it was cool because they were willing to go to the effort for the game.
Please go to the effort for the game! You spent at least an hour making your character's stats, spend at least an hour bringing your character to life. If I play or GM with your character for 5+ hours and all I know at the end of it is the PC's name, race, and weapon or spell of choice then, to me, you haven't added anything at all to my roleplaying experience at the table.
Be a hero with a heroically memorable personality!
The essence of roleplaying is talking and acting in character, so while it might seem obvious - TALK IN CHARACTER.
It really comes down to the percentage of time you talk in character as opposed to not doing so. The ideal would be to only do these two things while at the table: talk in character and describe your character’s actions. Anything else is a distraction that pulls everyone at the table out of the game. No one is perfect, but try to improve the percentage of time that you do talk in character and minimise out of character chatter.
Ways to do this:
- Learn the other characters’ names and use them. Learn the NPCs’ names as well, a good pathfinder has a journal to fill out all the details of the adventure, so should you as a player have a bit of paper to fill out these details as well as other details of the adventure.
Overuse these names a little for clarity. Rather than just saying, “Let’s go to the tavern”, try “Savroth, let’s go to the tavern”. The second leaves no doubt that you are talking in character, the first pulls people out of the game just a little, as they wonder very briefly whether you might mean that you want to get a drink after the game. This is useful if you are having a disagreement / discussion with another PC, to let everyone know that your characters are disagreeing but that it is only your character, not you as players.
- Actually say what your character is saying rather than just describing. Instead of saying “I try to fast talk the guard”, instead try “now good sir, you can see we are gentle folk who have perfectly legitimate to reasons to be allowed to enter.” You don’t have to go through the entire spiel of convincing the guard every time but at least say a sentence or two before going for the Bluff check and grabbing the dice. If it is an important social encounter, such as in “Hellknight Feast” it is critical to your mission to do this. There are some exceptions, usually to save time, like when the rogue has been scouting ahead (and the GM hasn't taken the rogue player into another room) for the rogue to say “I tell the others what I saw in the rooms I scouted” rather than rehashing what the other players have already heard from the GM once before. The trick is to try and do this as much as possible because and turn it into a good habit.
- Don’t overuse gamespeak: “I five foot step, then perform a trip combat maneuver, then take my AOO when the monster provokes, and use Power Attack”. Yawn! “I going to diplomacise him.” Yuck! Nothing bores me more in-game than the mechanical repetitious use of gamespeak. Try to avoid using game words when you could describe the same thing in terms your character would use. In Living Greyhawk, there was a common meme saying, “we Greyhawk the bodies”, to me it made the whole scene feel repetitive, metagamey, and boring. It would have been easier and more flavourful to say “we loot the bodies.” Even when in combat and you do have to use game words to describe your actions, at least try to interspace it with things your character would use. The cyclic nature of combat means that you have plenty of time to think of an appropriate in-character quip to issue on your turn. Comic book heroes and villains wisecrack and make jibes at each other because reading a couple of pages of combat without any dialogue wouldn't be as interesting, it’s the same at a roleplaying table. In the combat example above, if the player had finished with “Take that you filthy Taldan dog!” then it would have brought some good characterisation to the whole thing.
- Show me, don’t tell me. If you say “my character is a grumpy old dwarf” then you've told me, but that isn't as engaging as saying something grumpy in character, “Damn elves, always sneaking around behind people backs, in my day…”. Telling the group something about your character is actually better than not saying anything at all, especially if it is a physical description thing, but if you try and work in an element of your character in-character it’s even better and especially good if it relates to the scene at hand. A recent example I can think of was when one PC was disguised as a a slave and locked up in a cage as part of an infiltration mission, one of the other PCs (a Hellknight) came up to the caged PC and said “savour your time in that cage, I was raised in Chelish slave pits, it was best time of my life.”
Have one or more catchphrases. You are watching the Simpsons and you hear “Ha ha”, “Excellent!”, “aye caramba”, or most obviously “D'oh!” you know who said it. As one of your characters develops you may find you develop some of these. Remember them, heck write them down, and use them as a flavourful way of expressing your character. You may be able to think some up between sessions as well. Think about what your character says to introduce themselves (“The name’s Jim Stalwart ma’m”), what the character says when angry or surprised (“Mighty Abyss!”), or wants to swear (“by Calistria’s sacred nipple rings”), what the character would say to swear a binding oath or while saluting a superior (“House Thrune prospers!”) what the character says as a battlecry when engaging a climatic foe or using one of his or her signature abilities (“I do this for Taldor!”)
As you can see above, think about what gods, factions, organisations, countries, or other loyalties, ties, or background might cause the PC to use a certain saying. I only recently found out after adventuring with some friends of mine that the word “Ca’cha” is orcish for elf, archer, coward (or all three!) In a lot of ways it’s easier to come up with cool catchphrases before you need it and then make use of it, but a catchphrase that really suits the moment can be truly glorious. Either way it is very cool roleplaying everyone at the table will appreciate.
Pathfinder Items #2: Survival by Avatar
General Gabble #11 - 31 August 2014
It's been a little over a year and a half (or a season and a half, in Pathfinder Society terms) since the last article on what-to-buy came out, so it's time for an update. Make sure you have the right rulebooks for these!
This one's going to also include some near-essential magic items, and only mentions the important abilities of the item, not necessarily all of their abilities.
- Scroll/Oil of Unbreakable Heart (for confusion or fear, single-target level 1 spell)
- Scroll/Oil of Suppress Charms & Compulsions (for neutral domination or confusion, multiple-target level 2 spell)
- Scroll/Oil of Protection from Evil (as above, but only vs evil, single target level 1 spell)
- Scroll/Oil of Bless Weapon or Magic Weapon (level 1 spells) or a Ghost Touch weapon (+1 bonus) or Weapon Blanche, Ghost Salts (for incorporeals)
- Scroll/Potion of Fly. This has been said before, but it's so damn important that you can fly. 2 prestige or 750gp for the potion, or 2 prestige for a scroll with 2 castings.
- Scroll of Restoration, 800gp or 1700gp (for ability damage and negative levels; permanent negative levels require the more expensive scroll - take note of which you buy)
- Scroll of Antimagic Field (for when it's better to lose all of your own magic abilities than to face your opponent's, even if it means having to make a caster level check to make it work, level 6 spell)
- Sunrod, 2gp, AND Oil of Daylight, 2 prestige or 750gp (for deeper darkness, level 3 spell)
- Scroll of Mirror Image (to ward off attacks, especially at higher levels)
- Dream Journal of the Pallid Seer, 600gp (for lethal critical hits, single use slotless)
- Bracelet of Second Chances, 15,750gp or Jingasa of the Fortunate Soldier, 5,000gp (to negate critical hits or sneak attacks, the former has 7 uses while the latter may make you look ridiculous - respectively wrist slot/head slot)
- Snapleaf, 750gp (immediate action feather fall or invisibility, slotless)
- Swarmbane Clasp, 3000gp (to hit swarms with your weapon, neck slot)
- Golembane Scarab, 2500gp (to ignore DR vs golems, neck slot)
- Boots of Escape, 8000gp; Cape of the Mountebank, 10,800gp; Ring of Transposition, 10,800gp (to teleport out of grapples, respectively feet slot/shoulder slot/ring slot)
- Powder, 2cp for 1lb (locating invisible creatures, even when you're level 1); otherwise a Scroll of See Invisibility (level 2 spell) or Noble's Vigilant Pillbox, 3,600/1,700gp
Three years, sixty tables, three stars. by Mekkis
DM Feature #9 (Pathfinder Society) - 22 March 2013
Looking back to my first online PFS session I ran, back on 30 December, 2010, things have changed a lot. We were playing without the benefit of skype, and thus had walls of text. In addition, the lack of a dedicated community seemed to fail to communicate the importance of factions - which has unfortunately seemed to spread world-wide. CA v2 was rather primitive back then, only recently supporting background images, and if I recall correctly, crashing whenever a new tab was used. There was no background image adjustment, which required significant preparation in the GIMP to be centered correctly. Since then, we have image placement, lines, blast cones and radii, and the ability to bypass NATs by means of webserver bouncing. But that is just the tech... [read more]
Pathfinder Items: Consumables #1 by Avatar
General Gabble #10 - 20 January 2013
Steven provided this handy list of items newer characters (and some older characters) should consider buying: Items costing 2 prestige (or 750gp) - which will save your life: Wand of Cure Light Wounds (50 charges, 1d8+1 instant healing) Wand of Infernal Healing (50 charges, fast healing 1 for 10 rounds and you detect as evil for its duration; a guaranteed 10 hit points of healing, great for casting outside of combat) Potion of Fly Potion of Cure Serious Wounds (give it to a party member to feed you if you fall for 3d8+5 instant healing) Potion of Lesser Restoration (better than taking 3 rounds to cast it normally) Alchemical items: Antiplague, 50gp: +5 to fort saves vs disease or a two rolls to save if you're already infected Antitoxin, 50... [read more]
PFS Gripes - The Difficulty on Receiving an [O]fficial Ruling by Mekkis
General Gabble #9 - 16 October 2012
So, you're in a position where either Something has happened (accidentally tossed onto another plane, perhaps) - or you've got a concept that Might Work but requires GM approval or a GM ruling. What do you do? In a regular campaign, you approach your GM (preferably out of the session), a ruling is made, and you abide by it. Simple. In Organised Play, however, the GM at the table isn't really the GM of the campaign. Indeed, Paizo tends to call them "judges" - they are generally not able to make any form of [O]fficial ruling. As the documents and the forums say, the Campaign Coordinator (formally Josh Frost, now Mike Brock). You might be able to get an [O]fficial answer out of a Venture Captain, but s far as I can tell, they're more on the organisation a... [read more]
Absolute power, absolute blighted corruption. by Avatar
DM Feature #8 (Legacy of the Savage Kings) - 19 November 2011
A druid named Shawn once went to Willow Ridge to make a call for some brave adventurers, and 3 adventurers answered the call. One of them got taken by the Blight, and is now in the hands of the healers. One of them got taken by the shadows. One of them is lost to the ethereal void. In that time, they came across a hermit who had lost his mind, but had unknowingly discovered the dangers of the Blight and sought a way to fix it. He ended up becoming a victim himself. In that time, the adventurers eventually wandered right past the dragon's lair, and later found their way inside. They eventually braved their fears and ventured into the fort in the Great Swamp, to find the creatures within were almost no match for them. They found a sorcerer who... [read more]