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Fair Gameplay

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 59
In a game featuring as many rules and options as the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the concept of “fairness” has a number of different interpretations. For players, though, fairness largely relates to their interaction with the Pathfinder rules and the group at large.

In terms of the rules of the game, the same aphorisms that held true in grade school remain true during gameplay: No one likes a cheater. In most games with experienced players, the GM doesn’t need to check over every player’s character sheet or double-check the math on every bonus. A game operating on dozens of different subsystems requires honesty and goodwill, as the fun of the game lies in the simulation, not the calculations behind it. Misreporting dice rolls, ignoring a vulnerability, or bending the rules in any of a thousand other ways puts the game’s integrity in jeopardy, and is ultimately pointless— a character’s story is made interesting by the failures as much as by the successes. The danger lies in losing the other players’ trust, forcing the game to slow down when the GM inevitably does note discrepancies, and even potentially being asked to leave a game. Yet even though players may give lip service to these ideas, or the fact that there’s no such thing as “winning” a roleplaying game, sometimes players succumb to temptation, and it’s the GM’s duty to deal with such players quietly, gracefully—and firmly.

Beyond simply obeying the rules, however, fairness can also mean sharing the spotlight equally, and ensuring that all players are getting the chance to perform. While not every player is going to be on the edge of his seat every minute, it’s a GM’s job to watch and see if anyone is hogging the spotlight or being left out. Compromise and sacrifice are needed to keep the game going smoothly, and you should avoid letting players monopolize your attention with their characters’ individual needs or interests. Similarly, sometimes characters are knocked out of combat or killed. Although it’s no fun to sit out for a portion of a session, players should remain positive and understand that sometimes the dice roll against them—and that you as GM will get them back into the action as soon as possible.