Page 1403 - To Err is Common

14th Jul 2020, 6:00 AM in A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1
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To Err is Common
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Newbiespud 14th Jul 2020, 6:00 AM edit delete
Newbiespud
It's a fundamental piece of metagame knowledge across many systems that player-characters and monsters are far and away more capable than commoners, implying training, magic enhancement, and specialization. Otherwise, anyone could complete the PCs' quest and anyone could stop a rampaging monster. There's a heavy emphasis on "only you can do this"-brand individualism built into the fantasy.

We're still chugging along with our weekly D&D games! This week we finished up our one-shot-now-two-shot in Theros. We hunted that monster.
The First Labor, Session 2: Podcast | Video

20 Comments:

Gamemaster80 14th Jul 2020, 6:04 AM edit delete reply
And yet when I try to get that across in my campaigns my players are always like "don't you have town guard?" "Can we get the guards to help us?" "Shouldn't you be sending soldiers to kill those goblins instead?"
Guest 14th Jul 2020, 7:25 AM edit delete reply
The D&D games I played in usually solved this by showing just how powerful the town guard was early in the campaign by showing them have problems in a "fair fight" with goblins, or other low level monsters. For example - our "Sword's End" campaign had the town guard nearly overrrun with goblins, until our plucky band of young teen heroes did an end-around and killed the goblin raid leader. Thus showing we were 'heroes' and getting us voluntold to scout the goblin invasion, and eventually recruited to STOP the goblin invasion. Thus leading to the rest of the campaign...

A different campaign had us as guerrilla fighters, fighting AFTER a draconic/evil invasion wiped the major armies. Again - after we were ranked up a little, it was painfully obvious to us why the "level 2 fighter" armies died in droves to the invasion. (In fact, my character became famous simply because I sat down and used a fraction of my treasure as a high ranking character to fund rearming and re-equippping a unit of volunteers with low level magic armor and gear JUST to keep the friendlies from dying in said droves. By the end of the war, they were considered the elite shock troops of the unified armies, simply because they survived enough battles that killed the rest of the mooks...)
Anvildude 14th Jul 2020, 3:22 PM edit delete reply
The problem that I have with that is that then you have almost literally nothing to stop the player characters from flaunting the law of the land in towns. And that way lies burned cities.

Personally, I prefer having it so that the players have power that literally anybody could have, but that they're just the ones that aren't tied down, or are reckless enough to go out and do stuff. Like, the town guard could handle the goblins, but they're too busy guarding the town.
Malroth 14th Jul 2020, 3:25 PM edit delete reply
Malroth
That's how I usually run things, The PC's aren't unsually powerful, just unusually insane.
Jennifer A Burdoo 14th Jul 2020, 6:12 AM edit delete reply
My own intermittent campaign is like that - the players are part of the "specialist" company of the City Guard, the ones the rest of the Guard calls on when they can't even identify the monster, much less fight it. "Oh, a dragon's trying to nest in the City gates. Call the Queen's Own Troubleshooters, don't they have a half-dragon knight on the rolls?"

Adventurers don't make great guardsmen, but they do make good troubleshooters. Virtually any sort of character can be part of this unit, and I run what I've just learned is called a "Western Marches" style of game - that is, there is a greater pool of characters and any few of them can get together and adventure at any time.
you know that guy 14th Jul 2020, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
In Paranoia, the PCs are called Troubleshooters. They typically go to where the trouble is, and shoot it. And each other. And nearby citizens.

Of course, Troubleshooters differ from Adventurers in that the DM can simply order them to go to places and do things.
Digo 14th Jul 2020, 6:12 AM edit delete reply
With as many love songs as there is about suddenly finding yourself in love without warning, you'd think people would pick up on this... Of course love has a stealth skill. Cupid will sneak attack you in the heart when you least expect it!
Valorn 14th Jul 2020, 9:16 AM edit delete reply
I've never been a fan of the "only you can do this" or "chosen one" tropes, so I avoid them in my games. Instead I play it as the world is too dangerous for the town to be left unguarded long enough to have their own town guards deal with the issue. The players and adventurers like them are the only ones willing to risk braving the world outside of town walls for an extended period. If the players turn their backs on a quest, there's always other adventurers who the people can turn to.
Wulfraed 14th Jul 2020, 9:29 AM edit delete reply
*** Multiple part post as it exceeds the character limit ***
"""
It's a fundamental piece of metagame knowledge across many systems that player-characters and monsters are far and away more capable than commoners, implying training, magic enhancement, and specialization.
"""

And some rule sets are making that even more blatant... Digging up some ancient history here:

RuneQuest 2nd Ed:
Basically, a character starts at age 16, rules have a die roll for "background" (peasant 25%, townsman 35%, barbarian 25%, 3 levels of noble -- poor 10%, rich 4%, very rich 1%) which determines starting equipment and initial money. Everyone has a basic belt knife, but to start with a sword and armor requires one to be in the noble ranks).
After spending said starting money, a typical beginning character might have a sword, more likely is using a blunt club (tree branches are readily available), and has armor equivalent to someone wearing a piece of carpeting as a poncho. Motorcycle leathers would be heavy armor for a starting character.
They have basic skills, modified by their characteristics (a high DEXterity will increase manipulation skills, etc.).
To become an initiate in a cult requires passing a "test" -- for my favorite cult (Humakt), that is rolling under CHArisma*5 + Sword Attack % divided by 2, using %ile dice.
Sample weapon skills (16 year old): Dagger 25%, Mace 25%, 1H Sword 10%, 2H Sword 5%, Shield (medium) 10%
Wulfraed 14th Jul 2020, 9:30 AM edit delete reply
RuneQuest 3rd Ed:
Minimum age is 15 -- but normally one uses 15 + 2D6 to determine starting age. Background is replaced by Culture (D8: Primitive 12.5%, Nomad 25%, Barbarian 37.5%, Civilized 25%).
Based upon culture, one gets increased /base/ % in particular weapons. One then rolls for /parents/ occupation (tables specific to culture). Each occupation lists various skills for which the character receives from 1 to 5% per year of the 2D6 age roll. Characteristic based modifiers to skills also apply.
Characters also start with a list of equipment based upon occupation -- which often includes at least one weapon and some sort of armor.
RQ3 is primarily fantasy Earth, so initiate status is a generic %ile for Ceremony skill, and %ile for "religion specific" skills (closest match "War God") that means rolling primary weapon attack, primary weapon parry, secondary weapon attack, shield parry -- and succeeding at three of them.
Sample weapon skills (21 year old, I generated the character to match RQ4):(attack/parry) Dagger 51%/18%, Mace ? (Humakt cult forbids blunt weapons), 1H Sword 69%/28%, 2H Axe 34%/18%, Shield (viking round) 34%/48% (yes, this character is almost as effective "attacking" with the shield)
Wulfraed 14th Jul 2020, 9:30 AM edit delete reply
RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha (aka RQ4, unless I missed a release in the last 20 years):
Standard character generation results in 21 year old character (and at a specific year in Glorantha!). Background/Culture is replaced with Homeland (chosen by player, though maybe limited by GM -- hard to be a Prax nomad if the GM is focused on a Lunar Empire campaign). Then one generates family history (grandparent and parent, occupations and events in Glorantha history) as some events may influence the characters attributes (reputation and "passions"). While occupation is normally inherited, player characters may choose any or roll on the occupation table (if parents didn't inherit from grandparents, player should come up with some story for the change). Finally four years of events for the character itself. The event/history tables have modifiers for homeland.
Then one distributes points among elemental runes (60, 40, 20, 0, 0, 0), while applying modifiers based upon homeland. Distribute points among "power/form" runes (opposed pairs; two pairs 75/25%, the others 50/50). Then distribute 50 points among any runes -- keeping the opposed pairs totaling 100%. It is recommended that one maximize runes compatible with the cult one intends to follow.
Roll characteristics -- two of which will be modified based upon primary (+2) and secondary (+1) elemental rune. Some homelands also affect some characteristics
Based upon characteristics one applies skill category modifiers (as with previous).
Skill chances modified by homeland (for sample character this includes +10 dagger, +10 battleaxe, +15 broadsword, +15 medium shield). Occupation modifiers (generated light cavalry) unit weapons (javelin, broadsword, medium shield) +25.
Assumes one is a cult initiate -- Humakt 1H sword +20, Other weapon +10; all cults +20 to one cult skill, +15 to another.
Sample weapon skills (21 year old): (attack) Dagger 95%, Mace (forbidden), Broadsword 115% (high enough to do split attacks -- two attacks at 52%), Battleaxe 45%, Javelin (as 1H spear) 40% (as missile weapon) 80%, Medium shield parry 90%
BackSet 14th Jul 2020, 9:39 AM edit delete reply
It is a well known fact that the PCs are the only competent good guys in the setting. And that's assuming the villain is any good at being a villain. And that the players haven't gone full on murder hobo and become worse than the villain.
Solitary Performance 14th Jul 2020, 11:08 AM edit delete reply
I can agree with the metagame knowledge -- a major city's guard is usually a bunch of Warrior or Fighters who are maybe lv2, the squad leader might be 3 or 4. Captain of the guard? lv6. The ruling monarch's elite guard? probably 4-6, with the captain of the elite guard probably lv7, 8.

The truly scary NPCs are the ones who are usually unique powered/positioned, like "The Queen's Champion", or "Grand Marshal of the Alliance's Combined Armies", who is probably built like, and might have once been, an adventurer... because that's when you deal with a like, Lv10+ character packing a suite of magical gear.
Story Time 14th Jul 2020, 11:41 AM edit delete reply
Any story about characters with stats that they should not have? Like a Barbarian Orc with high intelligence, or a Magician with more Con that a paladin?
Boris Carlot 14th Jul 2020, 2:20 PM edit delete reply
My elf barbarian had a point of Arcana because Daddy sent him to magic school before they both realised he had dick-all talent for magic. Was fun getting a natural 20 and lore dumping the mage and the cleric for once
Winged Cat 14th Jul 2020, 12:22 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
As Cadance, I might reply to that last panel with, "Since you got a 25, you can tell that it's at least a bit due to Dexterity. Clearly, Cadance has had her own adventures and leveled up since she babysat you. Presumably some of those adventures were with your brother, and he's no level 0 commoner."
Malroth 14th Jul 2020, 3:28 PM edit delete reply
Malroth
If she wanted to get away with it sure. She wants to bring suspicion on herself for whatever reason.
Digo Dragon 14th Jul 2020, 5:15 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Maybe not to make it too difficult?

Personal experience here--having someone else play as the NPC/BBEG makes the character a bit more dangerous than if I the Gm play all the roles. Part of that is players may know my GMing style and tales, but may be unfamiliar with the guest player.
Robin Bobcat 14th Jul 2020, 3:23 PM edit delete reply
We had a long-running campaign where it was explained that some folks are blessed by the gods. Not like, a HUGE blessing, but they're just a bit more special than everyone else. But at the same time, they get a lot more crap thrown their way.

Nobody knows how or why, and even the gods are silent on the matter, but some suspect it's part of an ancient plan to foil the forces of chaos without direct action.

You can *try* to live the life of a simple farmer, but it's very likely that trouble will find you at some point.

Most kingdoms acknowledge these sorts, and know that they tend to show up if there's problems. They can be a handful, but they're usually granted a bit more leeway than the average commoner - carrying weapons in public and so forth.

I will note our usual new character introduction is to have a blast of trumpets and an engelic choir sound from above. The new character will descend from above upon a shaft of light, a clear sign from the gods themselves that this person is to join them on their quest...

... the beam of light cuts out three feet above the ground, sending them face first into a mud puddle, because the gods don't want them getting a big ego.
SureenInk 14th Jul 2020, 3:37 PM edit delete reply
SureenInk
The way my campaigns are run are following some of the systems in 5e where the NPCs in the Monster Manual are actually decently powerful. For example, a lot of wizards in Volo's Guide are actually around level 7-10. In my current campaign, the players are just one group of adventurers, but they're also one of few adventurers who have been able to journey into the monster-infested city and return alive.