When the Players Begin to Get It

Last night we finished the second module to the Reign of Winter adventure path (The Shackled Hut) in Pathfinder.  It was an exceptionally long game for our regular game sessions but I was keen to finalise it and move into a new module next year, being Mother , Maiden, Crone.  One thing that took me pleasantly by surprise last night was the fact that some of the players that have been a little slow on the take up with their characters and the rules that apply to them really showed some great development.

The next module in the adventure path

This has inspired me to write this post which is largely about player responsibilities in a game, especially a rules heavy game.  I play a lot of Pathfinder which has a large number of character classes, archetypes, feats, spells and abilities.  There are a lot of combinations that can be made and that means a player should make sure that they understand their characters.  This is the primary responsibility of the player.

New players to the game though need to be eased into the system.  Pathfinder is a great system but it can be complicated to learn so I try my hardest to soften the blow to new players.  In Reign of Winter we took on two truly newbie players and they have now been playing in the game for 30 sessions, a time that I figured they should be at the point where they can start to take on their characters more fully and begin to understand some of the broader rules (combat, conditions and effects) a little more and eas my load as the GM.

I have talked about this role on the blog before but I think it needs reiterating.  You need to learn all about your characters.  I do understand that there is a rush at level up time and it is a bit of pressure for the players to get the level up done before the next session.  This can involve the selection of spells, feats, ability increases, increases in saves, additions of spells and talents and all sorts of cool stuff.  But do not take this responsibility lightly.  As you take the time to level up make sure you become well acquainted with what you are taking on.  Understand how these effect your character and how they are to be used in play.

As a player you do not need to know all the rules, you just need to know all
the rules that your character can use…

When you return to the game and the GM asks you about how you levelled up, try to understand how these things work.  In the midst of combat don’t turn to ask the GM how a particular spell works or how the feat is applied.  If you are looking at the spell or feat and it looks good but you are a bit uncertain of how to apply it either just have a go at applying it in game the way you think and leave it up to the GM to adjudicate or ask them before the game how they see the same thing being applied.

It is absolutely imperative as a player for you to focus on how your character works.  If you are a new player then the most important thing is to see how your character works.  Understand as much as you can about the mechanics of your character.  If you are a fighter and select Improved Disarm then it is important for you to look up the disarm rules.  Don’t spend time reading spells when you are combat based.  Don’t think forward to what your character might be until you know what your character can already do.

Once you have reached that point that you know your feats, class abilities and the like then it is time to broaden your horizons with the rules.  If you are a combat based class it is probably a good idea to read the combat section of the Pathfinder books.  There are so many options that you can reach for that are rarely used due to ignorance.  For example, the full defence option is quite an effective tactic but I have only had players call on it maybe once or twice in game largely because they are not familiar with the rules.  The variety of combat manoeuvres that are available give you a lot of options in combat but largely the only ones I see in game are possibly grapple and trip (last night I had a disarm attempt also).

Keep your GM happy, they are there to help you have a good time!

If you are a magic user, make sure you read the chapter on magic.  A thief, make sure you understand traps and sneaking abilities. As you can see, the best way to learn the Pathfinder rules is by learning them through your character if you are a player.  If you are a GM, things are different and you will need to learn a good deal more about the rules until you can at least find rules quickly!  This is the greatest thing that you can do as a player and last night I was very pleased to see a couple of my players that started green bringing out rules that they had researched and were applicable to them.  They also showed knowledge about essential structures in combat like the attack of opportunity and played strategically around those rules.

Although I may not say it out loud to them at the time, these are the things that make my life as a Games Master so much easier.  One of the most frustrating things to deal with is the player that asks the same question, time and again over a variety of sessions.  If you are prepared to ask a question, pay attention to the ruling.  It is important that you learn what the GM wants in their game and once they have informed you that you learn and work from it.

So today I thought I would write about how I as a GM really appreciate effort on behalf of the players in this regard.  I want to openly thank +libby furr and +Tom Tyson for their efforts in coming to terms with these rules.  Last night it was very apparent and I do greatly appreciate it.  It made the game (which was full of conflict) run so much smoother for it!  For everyone else that plays, try to become familiar with your characters to make running the game easier on the GM.  For GM’s, make sure you take the time to say thank you to the players when they do!  Until next time, keep rolling!

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