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GMs and Caesar's Wife

When it comes to competitive games, the referees must not only avoid wrongdoing but must avoid anything which might be mistakenly perceived as wrongdoing. Like judges or Caesar's wife, they must be not only actually innocent, but above all possible suspicion.

Last night, a full group + of Xeilians charged to attack an EBA group in the Ustalav escalation hex and discovered that there was a GM character there. We proceeded with the attack anyway and were cut down extremely quickly, with single displayed hits well over 800 damage, despite having encountered this group before and seen no evidence of this sort of damage capability.

I discussed the matter with Ryan and he indicated that the GM in question claimed to be "just observing" and that GM characters typically have no trained attacks. This must have been a new tactic or additional members in the enemy group who caused our sudden reversal of fortunes.

I'm satisfied with this explanation, although I'd dearly love to see some logs so I could try to figure out what actually happened. (See log thread elsewhere.) Those single displayed hits could have been stacked damage from focus fire. However, some of my guildmates are not convinced, and I have no way to convince them. The perception of GM interference, whether based on actual interference or not, is toxic and demotivating.

When I worked at Mythic, GMs (CSRs there) operated under some very strict guidelines:
* GM characters should not be visible unless necessary, and never in PVP-enabled areas.
* GMs never "just played" on their GM characters.
* GMs were forbidden to reveal their play characters as belonging to GMs.
* GMs must avoid any appearance of favoring a particular guild or group.

There were more, but you get the idea. Having a visible GM just hanging out with a group of players, especially when not in the safe borders of a guarded town, creates the appearance of bias and is just bad form even if they aren't actually doing anything; if that group of players suddenly exhibits a dramatic increase in combat performance while the GM happens to be present there's no way to avoid the suspicion of interference.

Please work on developing GM policies which would prevent this sort of misunderstanding in the future.
^This is Dak (Charlie George). RIP <Guurzak>
… single displayed hits well over 800 damage…

I'm reasonably confident that the displayed damage numbers frequently combine hits from several sources.

For example, in late Alpha, Sspitfire and I took some 1,000 XP characters with +0 gear out to an Ustalav Invaders Escalation. I was closely observing the damage numbers. Sspitfire would frequently hit for 100 or so with Basic Longbow Exploit. I was mostly hitting for 7 with Flare. Frequently, I would watch a 7 change to a higher number. Literally, the 7 changed, I could still see the prior number directly above it. I believe this was due to Sspitfire's damage numbers coming in at almost the same time and being combined with mine by the client.

I was on Mumble with TEO when this happened, and I know they were very happy that you guys were flagging because that made it very easy for them to focus fire. I suspect that the 800 number you saw was the result of TEO's entire group focus-firing a single individual.

Still, it's worth testing whether the damage numbers really do combine.
Nihimon murmurs in sheer ecstasy as the magic courses through his veins
Those single displayed hits could have been stacked damage from focus fire.

I'm glad to see you're already aware of this possibility.

And +1 for system (combat, loot, trade, etc.) logs.
Nihimon murmurs in sheer ecstasy as the magic courses through his veins
Still, it's worth testing whether the damage numbers really do combine.

Will you volunteer as tribute target?
I'd rather volunteer Thorgrim - he might actually survive smile
Nihimon murmurs in sheer ecstasy as the magic courses through his veins
Caldeathe Baequiannia
They do combine. With the low level, fast attacks, I have frequently watched the numbers change to double when spammed quickly. And it is readily apparent when two or more archers are hitting me at the same time. It's also visible when doing a heal under attack, as the attack effect gets combined with the heal effect, so that a heal might do 30, or 39, instead of 50.
To reach me, email
Brighthaven Leader
The GM in question, Lisa, was there to observe us farming the Ustalavian escalation.

The moment that you are talking about, we actually did focus fire you, because you were red, having just attacked one of our scouts. When you have 14 people, and you are one of 2 people that are red, and the first tab targeted its easy to kill you. I do agree with your points though, and we even tried to get Lisa to stealth at one point, because we felt she was giving away our position easily, because of the distance she was following.

There probably needs to be some parameters set for GM accounts within the boundaries of the game.
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Saiph the Fallen
edited to try and be nice.
Lisa Stevens
I was the GM who was following around the escalation yesterday. I was hoping to watch a group work on the escalation because I have found that actually watching the game being played leads to understandings that you just can't get from reading reports. I was trying to keep my distance, but during the encounter between Golgatha and TEO, I was actually talking to a couple of Paizo employees about an issue and only half paying attention to the game, trying to keep up with the group as it ran through the hex. That led to me getting too close. Sorry that it led to confusion.

As Ryan said, GM characters really aren't good for much other than watching and getting folks out of holes. In Alpha, I ran along with quite a few different groups doing escalations as an observer and there weren't any problems. Heck, I ran with the Golgatha strike team that did that southern raid in the early days of EE.

I think that your concerns are valid and I will refrain from running as an observer until such a time that we have tech in place to do so unobtrusively.

Again, sorry for the confusion.

Thanks, Lisa. I appreciate your response, and that's really all I'd hoped to get from this. (Aside from some clientside logging!)
^This is Dak (Charlie George). RIP <Guurzak>
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