Top Ten Signs Your Pathfinder RPG GM is Used to a More Rules Light, Narrative Form of RPG*

Top Ten Signs Your Pathfinder RPG GM is Used to a More Rules Light, Narrative Form of RPG*
*Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

10. When you ask the GM what feat you should take, the reply is “Just write down a really evocative word or phrase that describes your character. Anytime you make a check appropriate to that description, I’ll give you a +2 feat bonus.”

9. The GM’s roommate has a PC with character class “bear.” The character appears to be a bear. Not a magic bear, or an animal companion, or a fey creature sent to help you. Just a typical bear. This pleases both the roommate and the GM.

8. After seven game sessions without a specific number of experience points gained when you ask the GM if you’ve gained a level, the GM says “Do you FEEL like your character’s story means he’s gained a level?”

7. Monster descriptions are colorful, though not always helpful. You know you faced a creature of “jubilant size, gusting fulsome vapor of vast import from its tawdry nostrils.” … but you aren’t sure if you should have added your favored enemy bonus against dragons, or not.

6. The social interacting with NPCs is awesome. Though you aren’t sure how you ended up married while courting a rich widower with five adopted orphans and trying to run a struggling gem-polishing business while carrying out a blood-oath against the Queen of Graves. Whoever the hell that is.

5. Each time you take damage, the GM wants you to explain if the wound was light, or serious, or what, based on a story from your character’s childhood you are to make up on the spot. You do, fearing you need to know which spell can heal you.

4. The GM sometimes calls for a “combat check,” and seems startled to realize that’s more than one die roll.

3. One of the other players has the feat “Mighty Hero,” which as far as you can tell gives him a +2 bonus on everything.

2. When you pick up a new exotic weapon from the GM’s campaign world, the Dakken Mor, it sounds cool. But when you ask what kind of damage it does, the answer is “dramatic!”

1. What do YOU think should be the Number One Sign? How does it work into your backstory?


About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on March 4, 2016, in Game Design, Silliness and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. My #1: The GM allows you to forgo making a Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Bluff check due to your roleplaying performance at the table. I came from a narrative background and I used to think this was a harmless GM decision (on my part). This is my old sin.

    And on the face of it, there are worse things you can do. The side effect is that you just incentivized making Charisma a dump stat (because who needs it, if you can ham it up at the table?). You also just punished your players who are not amatuer thespians.

    The rules often work when they’re allowed to do their job. A nice compromise here is to offer a one-time circumstance bonus of +1 or +2 to reward good play.

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