Page 782 - Playing Heartstrings

26th Jul 2016, 6:00 AM
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Playing Heartstrings
Average Rating: 5 (1 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 26th Jul 2016, 6:00 AM edit delete
Newbiespud
Making players squirm in small doses is one of the perks (and I daresay one of the responsibilities) of running a tabletop RPG. Whether that's through setting off a trap, initiating combat with a dragon, or presenting the players an obvious but heart-tugging moral choice. It's evil fun for the whole family (but actually just one person).

32 Comments:

Digo Dragon 26th Jul 2016, 6:06 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Making the PCs squirm is a fun aspect of being the DM. And players eventually get their chance to turn those tables when they make the DM squirm through his boss characters.

I took pride at the table whenever a player would whisper "Damn you, Digo." after I spring some evil twist into the story that catches them by surprise. :D
CrowMagnon 26th Jul 2016, 6:31 AM edit delete reply
In the Pony Tales campaign I'm running, I've introduced a character who has a romantic history with one of the PCs, and is the long-lost father of another. And then I went and made him loosely aligned with the main villains of the story.

Not quite out-and-out evil, but he's a rather manipulative character whose history puts him at odds with the party, so now they're going to have to decide how to deal with him.
Digo Dragon 26th Jul 2016, 6:58 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Wait. Romantic history with PC #1, and the father of PC #2. Are PC 1 and 2 related then? That would be an interesting twist if the characters were not aware.

Reminds me of my old Shadowrun group. There was this cute Mrs. Johnson one of the Runners always tried to hit on. Later it turned out the Johnson was the daughter of another PC on the team. Hilarity ensued.

"You were trying to make moves on my daughter!"
"I didn't know she was your daughter at that time!"

XD
CrowMagnon 27th Jul 2016, 6:32 AM edit delete reply
Heh, no, PC#1 is not secretly PC#2's mother. It was more of a fling between PC#1 and the NPC at a point in time after PC#2's real mother was... taken out of the picture.
Digo Dragon 27th Jul 2016, 7:07 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Ah I see. I guess my idea might get too complicated. :3
Akouma 26th Jul 2016, 11:21 AM edit delete reply
Akouma
My Genius: The Transgression game I've been running has been almost entirely about making my players squirm with their job. They're the time police, tasked with making sure the timestream stays as we regular people know it, or at least close enough.

Mission 1 was to counteract a Mage who went back in time to 1916 to feed the starving commoners in Russia using conjured food. This prevented the Russian revolution early the following year because many people revolted because they were starving.

Mission 2 was to stop a bunch of mass suicides in New York in late 1913. Turns out they were caused by a Promethean who had taken the place of the man who created the first crossword puzzle, and accidentally spread his Disquiet through the puzzle. The PCs determine that this guy ultimately wasn't TRYING to kill anybody, so they bring him back to base under arrest instead of hurting him. Immediately upon returning a containment team runs in and fires a weapon at him which turns him to a very, very dead pile of goo. When asked "what the hell why did you do that," the NPC's reply was that the perp's very nature made his presence a threat to the base if not immediately dealt with. (For those unfamiliar with WoD systems, a Promethean's Disquiet is an effect which spreads out from the Promethean the longer he stays in one place which can poison food and water as well as cause emotional instability in people and animals, ultimately leading to mass hysteria as the people affected will do literally anything including self harm to remove either the source of Disquiet or themselves from the area. Most Prometheans wander from place to place to avoid that level of prolonged exposure because most Prometheans aren't dickweeds.)

And then Mission 3 was the obligatory "prevent Hitler's early death" mission. In 1918, a British soldier was believed by some to have had a wounded German soldier in his gunsights, but elected to spare him since he was in a pitiful state and effectively a non-combatant. Something caused him to pull the trigger. The PCs now have to save Hitler, but still let him get mustard gassed (since this was during a mustard gas attack), and not kill the soldier who was himself a noted and decorated figure and would just cause more issues if they killed him. So naturally when they send in a group to stop the soldier from chasing down and killing Hitler with an almost Terminator-like drive they roll hilariously high on damage and kill him by accident when he fails a death save. So now they have to go contact the Hitler Cloning Division (which the organisation totally has and the PCs could have just contacted them and yes I did tell them that in advance) to get them to clone somebody else instead of Hitler. That outing actually ended so well that one of my PCs took a rank in "Allies: Hitler Cloning Division" afterwards. Afterwards it turns out that one of the guys in the 1940's division was sick of stopping people coming to his beat to kill Hitler, so he went back to WWI to do it himself and prevent WWII and make his job generally much easier.
Mykin 26th Jul 2016, 2:49 PM edit delete reply
Mykin
I took pride at the table whenever a player would whisper "Damn you, Digo." after I spring some evil twist into the story that catches them by surprise. :D

Hehe, something similar happened to us last week. Our FO:E group was heading back to Stable P-5 in order to find a solution to the whole 'mysterious murdering mist' that covered West Trottingham. On the way, we curb-stomped some slavers that were following us when my character's brother, Fortune, started coughing up blood. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with him and since everyone loved him (to the point where we joked that he's the only good point of my character, Astral) we floored it to the Stable. As we got closer, Astral had a flashback to a memory of Fortune in a hospital bed and, upon entering the Stable, our friendly-neighborhood Overmare confirmed it for me: Fortune had lung cancer.

Oh and it gets better! Dr. Brown, the Overmare and the one person Astral wouldn't mind throwing off a cliff for personally ruining his life (no he's not bitter), gave us an interesting proposal. See, the stasis capsules that linked everypony into the P-5 simulation also kept Fortune's cancer at bay. It was the only reason he actually lived for as long as he did. However, the power to the place was dying and a replacement was needed in order to keep the place going. Since Dr.Brown is no longer able to actually leave the Stable, she made us a deal: Get the replacement power source (and she even gave us a handy list of possible locations to get them from) and she would let everypony in P-5 go as well as allow us to use it in whatever manner we wanted. Something that our unhinged doctor loved because he really liked the idea of using this place as a prison for all of the slavers and raiders that we had the bad habit of leaving alive.

So I bet you thought we would leave Fortune in there so he wouldn't die while we went off to get the replacement source, right? Wwwweeeelllllllll, Fortune is the GMPC and idea of getting stuck in that simulation mirrored that of Astral. I.E: He'd rather die than do that. Astral, despite finally convincing himself that leaving his brother here would be the right move, sided with his brother and told the party he wasn't going to abandon him again.

While it was a nice display of brotherly love, it also meant that we now had a rather big ticking clock over our heads as we raced to get what we need. And considering that the two closest places that might have a replacement power source are both places that are heavily likely to have been turned into functional settlements by now, I doubt our GM is done being evil to us just yet.
Digo Dragon 27th Jul 2016, 7:10 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Oh wow, that is some heavy feels story there. Having a bro who's on essentially borrowed time? Phew, that's good stuff. Good luck on getting the power source!
Someone 26th Jul 2016, 6:11 AM edit delete reply
Okay, now I want to see an arc DM-ed by Fluttershy's player!
RandomRex6 26th Jul 2016, 6:27 AM edit delete reply
Seconded.
Digo Dragon 26th Jul 2016, 7:00 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
If anyone wants a guest comic idea. Bam. ;)
Winged Cat 26th Jul 2016, 10:43 AM edit delete reply
...if I did not already have an idea for a mini-arc I might try that. Perhaps if my idea proves nonviable (or if I remember for next time, which is less likely).
Someone Else 26th Jul 2016, 7:37 AM edit delete reply
The first thing that springs to mind is her trying to run some kind of horror dungeon that amounts to that scene with the paper dolls in her cottage from the Scare-Master episode.

"There aren't enough seats for all of the guests! Roll a Will-save to work up the courage to politely ask them to leave! OOOOooooOOOOooo!"
Digo Dragon 26th Jul 2016, 1:51 PM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Pffft, I could see that. Brilliant.
Someone 26th Jul 2016, 2:33 PM edit delete reply
It's either that or playing on the clishe and she turns out to be a killer DM sadistic monster. The first option is funnier though.
aylatrigger 27th Jul 2016, 8:17 PM edit delete reply
aylatrigger
...I am a nice GM. I could think up a nice Fluttershy GM being bullied by her players until she explodes into Stare-mode. ...But I am not good at coming up with jokes.
ANW 26th Jul 2016, 6:15 AM edit delete reply
Lately, I've been developing a new type of enemy.
This only a bare bones, but here it is.
A spirit type whose main gimmick is phantom pain.
He/She would force your body to remember a pain and makes it feel it again.
It could be as simple as a quick burn, to the ultimate pain.(Down below)
I still need to work out the rest of details.
Any ideas?
Joe the Rat 26th Jul 2016, 6:49 AM edit delete reply
Are you familiar with Loviatar?
Anvildude 26th Jul 2016, 6:58 AM edit delete reply
Temporary Negative Hit Points and Temporary Negative Levels.

Have it haunt places where a lot of pain is/was being caused, and its bite (or claw attack or whatever) works like a regular attack, but instead of doing non-lethal or lethal damage, it does temporary negative HP. Much like regular Temporary HP, the temporary negative hp goes away at the end of the effect (such as with a Dispel effect or when the spirit dies).

The big thing to make it more than just a nuisance to higher level players, is have it hang around creatures that do regular damage as well- maybe have it living in a Kobold torture chamber, or around the outskirts of an Ogre camp. The temporary negative HP is essentially counting towards damage, then, though the players won't be as worried about it (due to psychology- they'll be thinking 'oh, it'll go away' even though for all intents and purposes, during combat it is 'real' damage) and might not be as careful as they should when fighting the regular foes.

In addition, the spirit shouldn't be super confrontational. It should attack from ambush (invisibility or incorporeal hiding) then retreat once it's done a certain amount of 'damage'- because the temporary negative HP won't stick around if it dies.

You could possibly bind it into an implement that has caused a lot of pain in the past/is used to cause pain, so it would hang out in torture machines or 'special' knives or whips and the like- maybe even make an advanced form that lives within a 'host' who takes pleasure in doling out pain.
aerion111 26th Jul 2016, 10:32 AM edit delete reply
aerion111
Well, 'pain' of any kind, as I don't think 'phantom pain' is that different from other kinds, might be better simulated with penalties.

If you DO go with 'temporary negative hit points' there already is a mechanic for it; Subdual Damage.
Yes, a lot of things are immune, but usually the things that should also be immune to pain; Constructs, undead, PCs who have taken traits from either of those (via enchantments or other methods), and so on.

But things that cause pain are already established as causing penalties (in some cases in addition to doing direct lethal damage, but usually that's stuff like ripping skin or breaking bones, so painful injuries rather than phantom pain)
'Sickened' is a popular one, but any of those 'daze-esque' would work, depending on the desired severity.

Remember, if you use damage rather than penalties, you'll end up in a lot of situations where it might be hard to stay immersed because of the mechanics; Pain can kill people, especially when injured, but pain strong enough to kill a healthy (but rather green) soldier really should do more than inconvenience a veteran one.
aylatrigger 27th Jul 2016, 8:42 PM edit delete reply
aylatrigger
...I was reminded of my constant numbness/phantom pain from Lymes Disease...

So ghost tick?
Draxynnic 26th Jul 2016, 6:32 AM edit delete reply
Anybody else see that last line and imediately think "And then the apprentice shall become the master"?
Joe the Rat 26th Jul 2016, 6:50 AM edit delete reply
Only a master of evil, Fluttershy.
(Beware the Nice Ones)
The Old One 26th Jul 2016, 10:02 AM edit delete reply
A Master of Evil is still a Master!
Kaze Koichi 26th Jul 2016, 10:35 AM edit delete reply
DM, it's not evil, it's just trolling.
Winged Cat 26th Jul 2016, 10:52 AM edit delete reply
(To the tune of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PR7eMdCkoQ)

Troll-ing...you hear the troll-ing...

Troll-ing...you hear the troll-ing...

Let me go Rarity, there's no chip on my shoulder. Little by little, I feel a bit meaner.

Let me go. Set me free. I feel a bit bolder. Just once more unto the tease, de-ar friend, once more...

Buck up, leave your reservations.
Buck up, time for them to realize.
Buck up, show appreciation.
Buck up, time for them to realize.
Kira 26th Jul 2016, 2:47 PM edit delete reply
As Raxon explained in his story ( i think it was Raxon) about the plot device tied to the life of a little girl

there is always another option you just need to convince the DM of that.
Dusk Raven 26th Jul 2016, 6:47 PM edit delete reply
So, on Saturday I had my first-ever IRL session as GM, playing Pathfinder.

It was definitely a sort of... "Sure, let's go with that" sort of experience.
redwings1340 26th Jul 2016, 11:05 PM edit delete reply
redwings1340
I had a campaign where the main plot of the campaign involved overthrowing the GM. Some notable lines.

Cameron: "Does it mention grues?"
Maggie: "Not that I can remember."
GM interrupts telepathically: "Grues. What a magnificent idea!"
Maggie: "I would count on them being there."

One of my characters in this campaign was a former GM, looking to get back to his position of GM, but also learning how to appreciate the value of the characters in his universe as he's being forced to live among them. His prime character struggle was between wanting to create adventure and action, while also trying to value the characters and lives he created. When he got close to the Chosen Star, the star powering the GM, he had this conversation with an unidentified person telepathically communicating to us. In this, Redwings is the former GM, and Annie is a character he created for this rp.

https://www.reddit.com/r/TTPloreplaycentral/comments/428jug/csbr_chapter_7_the_dark_side_within_the_fortress/cz8lgu1
j-eagle12212012 27th Jul 2016, 3:34 AM edit delete reply
j-eagle12212012
Evil DM that likes to play with the emotions of the players... Hatter, Definatly Hatter
Someone Of Somewhere 27th Jul 2016, 9:47 AM edit delete reply
Trust me, compared to some his is pretty mild...
Guest 28th Jul 2016, 1:09 PM edit delete reply
"presenting the players an obvious but heart-tugging moral choice"
Ah, Five Fathers, as told by Demonu. I'll have to read through those again, that was such a lovely game to hear about.