Pathfinder has increasingly become my roleplaying game of choice; there is also a growing division between those players who prefer its Adventure Paths (geared toward smaller groups in a home-setting) to its ‘Society’ games (designed for the typical one-shot run at a gaming convention). Breaking it down, Adventure Paths are written to tell a coherent storyline over the effective lifetime of your characters — which, for most Adventure Paths, is level 1 to around 12 or 14. Society games tend toward a similar character lifetime (levels 1-12), but are instead a series of adventures which return the character to an episodic stasis at the end of each adventure. Not surprising, these adventures tend to lack the expected niceties of an overarching plot, or even recurring NPCs, though, you’re often playing these adventures with a different assortment of players from one Society game to another.
I begun hosting Pathfinder Society games at my home in order to meet new Pathfinder players, the ultimate goal being to find those who would be interested in engaging in a more regular Adventure Path game. Surprisingly, to me anyway, I came across some exclusively interested in Society games. It seemed the main appeal there was the official nature of the Society game: requiring the GM to register each section online plus filling out a Chronicle sheet for each player that specifically documents their progress over that adventure. This allows the player to attend a convention and play an officially sanctioned character (which he or she has played before) that has been built up over the course of several adventures. For some players, it would seem this engenders a sense of accomplishment; if the Pathfinder session in which they’re currently playing (read: Adventure Path) isn’t furthering this official standing of their character — they just aren’t interested.
Fair enough. Different strokes for different folks. So, I changed my focus to Adventure Path-gaming, more or less losing touch with what the Society crowd was doing — though, one of the members of my own Path game group remains far more active in it than I ever was; he not only makes every Path game, but attends several Society ones — so many, in fact, that he’s run into the, (I figured, uncommon) situation where the game session he’s attending is running a scenario he’s already played — possibly multiple times.
Well, it turns out this isn’t as unusual as I thought. It even happens so often that the Pathfinder Society has been prompted to release specific guidelines to regulate it. Unfortunately, these specific guidelines … aren’t as specific as they should be. Really, they just seemed to confuse things even more.
But don’t take my word for it. Here — read for yourself from the “Replaying Scenarios and Chronicles” section of the official Pathfinder Society Guide, as it’s been recently updated. Very recently — within the last 48 hours of my writing this.
Replaying Scenarios and Chronicles
You may replay a scenario as needed to fill tables, but may only earn credit for a given scenario in the following
• If you play you earn 1 credit that is applied to the character that played through the scenario.
• If you GM a scenario, you earn 1 credit that can be applied to any character that hasn’t played through the scenario.
• You receive GM or player credit regardless of the order you play/GM the scenario. You may not earn more
than 1 player credit and 1 GM credit regardless of how many times you GM or play the scenario. You are free to
use PPP to seat legal tables, but if you already have earned your credits you do not earn any additional ones.
• If you spoil the plot for the table, the GM has the right to ask you to leave the table and is under no
obligation to award you a chronicle sheet.
Be very careful about character knowledge versus player knowledge. If you’re concerned about possibly spoiling something during the course of play, take the GM aside and ask how she would like it handled. Remember: the goal of replay is to make sure fun gaming happens, not to remove the fun from gaming.
Replay will likely not happen very often, but it adds an extra weapon to the arsenal of GMs who run smaller
game sessions and often have trouble finding a scenario that fits all of the players present. We removed the player
check in the reporting system that checked whether or not you had played the scenario before. That check has
been replaced with a character check that alerts you if your character has played a scenario before (and thus
does not count the scenario).
Okay … I don’t know about you, but … here was my thought process upon reading through it the first time around:
Reading the first bullet point, I told myself, ‘well, this section is specifically entitled “Replaying”, so they MUST be discussing players who are replaying a scenario — else, why would they put it here in this section?’
The first bullet point states that one (1) credit is earned which is applied to the character that played through the scenario. (I’m … not entirely sure just what a credit is, but I’ll assume it’s a Pathfinder Society Chronicle sheet — which gives money, XP and, well, prestige. Seems to be the most likely interpretation, though, truthfully — I have no idea.)
Okay, so the first bullet point (yep, still sorting through Bullet Point #1 — bear with me here) indicates I get a PFS (or, Pathfinder Society) Chronicle sheet for replaying a scenario with a character — but only insofar as it’s needed to fill tables legalizing the game so that its players may earn credit. Great. Moving on.
I’m having issues with Bullet Point #2, however, which I’ll go ahead and rehash here, so you can review it with me in realtime.
If you GM a scenario, you earn 1 credit that can be applied to any character that hasn’t played through the scenario.
Huh. Okay, from where I sit, Bullet Point #2 seems to directly contradict Bullet Point #1. Obviously, there’s got to be one right answer here, but I’m forced to divine what it is based upon contradictory statements. Not so great. The first one states, pretty clearly, that I receive credit applied to the CHARACTER which plays through a scenario if I’m replaying that scenario only as needed to fill tables and make the game legal. The second, however, limits me — the player — to one credit, regardless of how many times I replay it. Seems to be amending the prior bullet point, except … that it contradicts it. Entirely.
Hmm. That’s a head-scratcher.
Okay, again, Bullet Point #1 legalizes a CHARACTER to earn one credit, while Bullet Point #2 legalizes the PLAYER to receive, again, a single credit — which are two different things. Perhaps, what it’s trying to tell me is that a given character only receives one credit per given scenario — but maybe I can replay it with other characters. I suppose that’s one interpretation — and seems to at least be somewhere in the ballpark of what they’re telling me; but if it’s closer to home base or the outfield, who knows? I decided to keep it in mind and continue reading.
Now, upon finishing the rest of the section, it becomes clear. Ah — they’ve removed the database restriction and can now credit multiple characters with the same scenario, which clarifies and confirms my earlier suspicion that a PLAYER CREDIT (as addressed in Bullet Point #3) and a credit for a given CHARACTER (from Bullet Point #1) must somehow be different. Although, I’m still not sure what a credit even is. It must be related in some way to the database, which must figure back to the PFS Chronicle sheet.
Except … this apparently is not the rule. What they intended to say is this:
No player receives any credit for repeating a scenario under any circumstances.
So, I offered to rewrite the section for them in under 400 words. Ready? Here goes ….
Preston’s Attempted Rewrite of the Replaying Section of the Pathfinder Society Guide
‘Players are discouraged from replaying a scenario for obvious reasons. Still, the occasion may arise in which another player is needed to replay a scenario in order to bring the headcount to the required minimum of four. In these instances, a player is allowed to play through the scenario, so long as he or she maintains vigilance in separating character knowledge from player knowledge. Failing to do so won’t only ruin everyone’s fun, but could result in the GM removing you from the game session.
A friendly warning regarding playing for credit:
A given scenario may only be played for credit (acquiring a PFS Chronicle sheet) one time, with that credit being earned by the character who was chosen to play it through. You are allowed to earn another credit as the GM using the same scenario. While not a necessity, it would presumably follow your first having played it through with a character to prevent the same issues of character-versus-player knowledge.
Be advised – the maximum number of allowable credits issued for a given scenario is limited to two: one for playing it, one for GM-ing it. NO EXCEPTIONS. Furthermore, these credits must be awarded to different characters. Should you replay a scenario, know that you still run the risk of character death and will still lose all consumables used over the course of the adventure, despite the fact you receive no credit for playing it. For this reason you may want to instead play a one of the pre-generated characters instead. ‘
… That wasn’t so hard. Was it?