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RPGA, Pathfinder Society and Adventurer's League - why are they all so terrible?

LordEntrails

Explorer
IMO, organized play suffers from one major flaw; the need to accommodate "competitive optimizers".

What I mean by this is gamers who feel the need to have the best character at the table, to reach some sort of 'endgame' where they/their character is the best/most powerful/optimized/awesome character possible.

Because of this, their have to be rules and standards for everything that impacts character power/development. This is why you can't just loot the magic items at the end of an adventure, because now every character that played in any given adventure could claim to have rolled/assigned/gifted the 'best' items from each module.

As soon as an endeavor has to be "fair", it means it has to remove a lot of the things that a game that is not worried about equality between characters coming from different backgrounds, adventures, and DMs just doesn't have to deal with.

Now, why are the written modules often so poor? Well, with anything of this nature its about the rewards for developing a product, or about the process of who gets to decide who gets to create the product, or the environment placed upon the creator. So, either writing the modules doesn't pay well (nope, they are usually some of the most sold items on the DMsGuild). The DDAL organizers are not very good at selecting the best writers (No idea on this one). Or the capable writers don't want to write something constrained by the rules of writing such an adventure. Regardless, it seems clear the quality of modules is the responsibility of the organized play organization/organizers.

As for DM/GM quality; Well, again is might be a reward thing; it might be a matter of event organizers not selecting/building/obtaining quality DM/GMs; or it might be the environment that people don't want to DM/GM a game in. And again, its the event organizers responsibility. I will say that the reward level is not sufficient for me to offer to run a game at a con. I'd much rather play or explore the con than commit to 12-20 hours of GMing in order to get a weekend pass or hotel room, and the overhead running an AL game certainly isn't worth the hassle for me.

I will say, I have no idea what the "reward" level is for an organized play organizer, or an event organizer, but I doubt either pays enough to make it more than a side job, or to hire someone will significant experience. I mean how many of these positions pay $50-70k for a full-time/permanent position? I've got no idea, but I wouldn't be surprised if even events like SDCC or Gen Con have more than 2-3 full time staff (and the workload to do such an event must be horrendous).

These events rely upon the support of volunteers, and hence we have to expect volunteer quality, at least until we are willing to pay professional costs for professional products.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
IMO, organized play suffers from one major flaw; the need to accommodate "competitive optimizers".
Sounds more like trying to avoid acomodating them.

In a home game, the DM can readily recognize and curb such behavior. But, in AL, the rulings not rules philosophy is slightly subverted - AL rulings become the DMs rules, and some of the tools he had thus vanish.

I suspect that also discourages some quality DMs from participating, and causes others to run less-awesome games than they might otherwise.
 

Elfcrusher

Explorer
Maybe the same reason competitive rock climbing is so terrible: some things just can't be formalized with strict rules.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Let's focus on the core reason for con 'ventures being poor: their incredibly short length.

That does not mean it is impossible to tell a good story quickly, only that it is very hard to do so.

Con scenarios are usually repetitive and not novel because the writer needs to have a moment of brilliance to come up with something that works in such a limited format.

If you play at home, you can usually create a satisfactory experience even if every element is a well-worn trope, just by competent handiwork.
 

Riley37

Villager
IMO, organized play suffers from one major flaw; the need to accommodate "competitive optimizers".

What I mean by this is gamers who feel the need to have the best character at the table, to reach some sort of 'endgame' where they/their character is the best/most powerful/optimized/awesome character possible.
I am not convinced that organized play NEEDS to accommodate those players. IMO, organized play *could* stop accommodating that style of play, and take active measures to discourage that kind of player from participating. This would require some clear intention, communicating that intention across the organization, and some brave willingness to ruthlessly enforce behavioral boundaries. I think it's *possible*.

As for volunteer quality: I have known organizations with a high bar for volunteer quality. For some tasks, it's better to recruit and retain a dozen volunteers of reliably high skill and commitment, than to recruit hundreds and retain them all regardless of quality.

Sometimes, though, that approach wins on both axes. High-quality volunteers tend to enjoy working with each other; so if you ruthlessly prune out your scrubs, then you might *over time* end up with dozens of high-quality volunteers, who happily bring out the best in each other. But that requires camaraderie. If your volunteers all work in isolation from each other, then I don't see how you'll end up with the "high quality AND high quantity" outcome.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Sounds more like trying to avoid acomodating them.

In a home game, the DM can readily recognize and curb such behavior. But, in AL, the rulings not rules philosophy is slightly subverted - AL rulings become the DMs rules, and some of the tools he had thus vanish.

I suspect that also discourages some quality DMs from participating, and causes others to run less-awesome games than they might otherwise.
My players generally seem to think I'm one of the good ones...

... and AL does put some serious limits on, but that's not what discouraged me.

Why I quit:
1 - having to pay for the adventures
2 - Settings for the seasons that I didn't care for.
3 - better games to run/play than D&D 5E (It's not a bad game - but for me, it's a poor fit.)
4 - a core group of players wanting a more campaign experience without the table-hopping that AL encouraged
5 - the fairly limited types of conflict in the available modules.

In other words, multiple specific minor forms of burnout.
 

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