PFS Multitable Prep Guide
Multitable scenarios are a unique and thrilling experience. But unless you’ve done then, it can be hard to even imagine what it’s like to play alongside dozens or even hundreds other players. Sometime last year I found people thanking me for their advice when it comes to approaching these, both as players and gamemasters. And after a dozen or so experiences on both sides of the table, I’ve learned some invaluable lessons that can help turn a grindy slog into the most memorable experience of any convention.
What Are Multitables?
A multi-table scenario is one in which every table is working cooperatively toward the same goal. You still play at a table of 4-7 players with 1 GM, but whenever you complete a goal your GM will report the results to the Overseer or Head GM, who is tracking everyone’s progress. When a certain percentage of certain goals are completed in one section of the scenario, the entire room is expected to move on. But if enough goals aren’t completed in time, those final encounters get more and more difficult. Different Specials have different ways of interacting with other tables, usually through the use of an Aid Token, which you can use to either help your party, or power it up and pass it along to save another party.
Tips for Players
• Strength: These are going to be combat heavy, so play characters who can fight! This can be a good time to use crazy characters capable of doing weird things, but make sure you will have fun playing your character in eight or nine combat encounters, one after the other!
• Dexterity: Be prepared to go quickly from one encounter to the next. The more encounters you can do, the better. Ask your GM if you can preroll. Figure out what your going to do before your turn.
• Constitution: These are often the last scenario of the night so be prepared to stay late. Go to the bathroom before the special, and bring water. While most specials will have opportunities for your characters to regain some of their daily resources, many have several combat encounters one after another in the same day.
• Intelligence: Know all the rules for your character. Only play a pregen if you know the class inside and out. Make sure your GM knows any strange things you can do and make sure all table variation is resolved before the dice start rolling.
• Wisdom: Muster diverse parties. If you have pregens, shoot for the 1-2 tables. If you want the most difficult encounters, find a 10-11 table that is willing to do the “optional encounters”, and ask them beforehand.
• Charisma: Use your Aid Tokens. Use them as soon as possible. If you really don’t need them, charge them up and pass them on. And encourage the table you pass the Aid Token to do the same, and tell the next table to do the same. Not all tiers have the same level of difficulty in each section, and it’s a real drag when an aid token just sits unused on a couple tables who are too afraid of giving them up…when they could have passed them on and recieved new ones several times had they not been boggarting them.
Tips for GMs:
• Strength: Players are there to be challenged and many monsters do not have tactics. Read the entire monster entry and figure out what they monster is supposed to do in combat. I like to print out a seperate page for each monster and put them in a binder make just for that scenario!
• Dexterity: Explain how these work as your players sit down and ask if they want to try to accomplish as many goals as possible. Encourage your players to preroll. Preroll initiatives. Have your maps drawn out in advance. Print out plain-text copies of hard to read handouts. Tell your players “roll, then math”. Ask in advance if any of them have any table variation, and make sure they understand everything their characters can do.
• Constitution: Be kind to your voice and do not yell. The room will be super-charged with emotion and people will be talking loudly. But the quieter the GMs, the quieter the players. Most players will lean in to listen, and those with hearing problems should be encouraged to sit close to their GMs. Oh, and bring a water bottle, even if the convention supplies one. Drink lots of water, use your bio-break and remember that these tend to go late into the night!
• Intelligence: Read the scenario carefully. At the start of the game, write down the easy-medium-hard DCs for your tier where you won’t forget them (like the back of your hand). Print out reminders of the effects of all the room conditions; they are usually in inconveniant locations and not all venues have the resources to post the effects of all those random buffs! While your at it, print out cards for those various once-per-scenario bonuses your players rack up. It’s easier on your voice, and your players are more likely to actually remember they have them four hours later.
• Wisdom: Know what kind of group you have. Try not to pull back the curtain completely, but at the same time try to keep your player’s engaged. If time is called but your players are still in a fight, it’s better to suddenly have every enemy drop to “1 HP” than slide them off the playmat and handwave the encounter away.
• Charisma: If there’s a rules disagreement during a less important enocunter, play it smart and cede to the player. Don’t lose the war trying to win the battle; ask them to explain the rules during a break if your worried that they’ll do the same cheese again. “That’s so awesome! I’ll allow it, but show me how you did that during the break!”
Tips for Overseer GMs:
• Strength: Project confidence and strength. Practice your lines more than you would as a table GM! Make it very clear that the room must be silent when it is your time to talk, as a favor to players who might be sitting uncomfortably close to chattier participants. Music and sound effects are almost always poorly recieved at these events, as rooms get far too noisy!
• Dexterity: Keep a clock on you at all times and be prepared to fudge when the next encounters can be called. Rushing through the special will only leave more tables disatisfied, but if its a convention people need enough time to fill out paperwork and get to bed before their next AM session.
• Constitution: Don’t try to be a table GM and overseer GM at the same time if you’ve never done a multitable special before. If you are worried about losing your voice, pre-recorded announcements are perfectly acceptable. Just remember to test at your venue of play before the game starts!
• Intelligence: Have your GMs muster at least thirty minutes before players are even allowed in the room to work out signals…and give late players and GMs a chance to arrive. Print out aids to help track how many successes are needed before you have to call stuff out. Read as many forum posts about the special experience as you can and be prepared to prep your table GMs before mustering starts.
• Wisdom: Either supply maps or get GMs to pool maps together before the convention, as many of these specials have “routes” that mean not all maps will be used at the same time. Don’t bother laminating aid cards, as they change from special to special and not every table will have a dry erase marker.
• Charisma: Organize your GMs into tiers as soon as possible. Over-encourage brand new players to muster at 1-2 tier tables and not use complicated pregens. Feel free to improvise special kudos to tables and players doing unusual things (like a table of characters designed to play together) or who accomplish great feats (like completing an optional encounter). Try to find a reason to congratulate each table, occasionally wandering to get a hang of which tables are slowest and which have new players you can help become as addicted to Convention Specials as I am!