Page 1067 - Suffering Foretold

22nd May 2018, 6:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 1
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Suffering Foretold
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 22nd May 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
There's a thought in my head – "It's not often you face a villain that you really hate" – that leads down a fascinating rabbit hole.

I was watching some other tabletop streams and VODs the other day, and there was a moment where a sweet, fun-loving player gave into their anger for a hot minute and did something rather atrocious. When gently called out on it later on, the player believed themselves sort of in the right but couldn't really defend it. And my thought at the time was, "Yeah, that's common."

Do we actually not experience very much genuine anger and hatred in these games, despite being waist-deep in "monsters" and "villains"? (Assuming ideal group conditions, of course.) Are we unprepared for the moments where real hate consumes us? Is that where we get the murder-hobo archetype, or nice people momentarily turning into monsters and not being able to come to terms with what they did after? We're expected as adults / young adults to be able to contain and control our emotions, after all, and knowing who you'll become when the consequences are virtual and you're beyond your limit is kind of impossible.

Sorry, didn't mean to get all goth and go on a tangent. ...Well, I committed this to the Author's Note, so I guess I did. But I find it fascinating that, for a moment, this game sometimes gives us a glimpse into the abyss inside ourselves. Usually without any greater cost than weirding out your friends and becoming a running gag for a while.

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Zaftique 22nd May 2018, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
My BF is in a game I DM, and when my green dragon NPC sweetly threatened them into becoming her temporary thralls (1 month Geas spell), he was almost shaking with anger.

In fairness, someone had stolen her eggs, so she was in a desperate spot herself, but he's convinced that they're going to find the eggs and she's just going to murder them after. Maybe I played her too well? ;)
Achtungnight 22nd May 2018, 6:26 AM edit delete reply
He who fights monsters should take care he does not become a monster. When you gaze into an abyss it gazes back at you.
Digo Dragon 22nd May 2018, 6:39 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
But then you have people like The Operative in the movie Serenity who fully acknowledge that they are a monster and despite doing what they do for a better world, know that there will be no place fore them there once their work is done. Those are the scary monsters.
Freelance 22nd May 2018, 11:14 AM edit delete reply
There's a trope for that:
Heck, that's the trope's headline quote.
Digo Dragon 23rd May 2018, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Yep, that's the trope. Those make pretty good villains to hate on a personal level.
Evilbob 23rd May 2018, 6:08 PM edit delete reply
"Necessary Evil" is a very fun trope. Both for use for villains, like The Operative you mentioned, as well as some heroes/anti-heroes such as Lelouch in Code Geass.
Anvildude 24th May 2018, 4:01 PM edit delete reply
Okay, I've never even fully watched Code Geass, and I just HATE Lelouche.

Matt Reverse 22nd May 2018, 6:37 AM edit delete reply
Matt Reverse
"There'd better be some very fulfilling catharsis at the end of this."

Ooooooooh Twilight. You're in for a treat.
Digo Dragon 22nd May 2018, 6:53 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
I got two examples where my character had real hate for the villain.

My medic in a pony cyberpunk military campaign, Lt. Rose Croix, and her ward, temple acolyte Anaki, ended up trapped in a room with the big bad, a casino owner who keeps his employees virtually as slaves by way of fear tactics and blackmail. When he attempted to have Rose and Anaki murdered by his security forces to use as scapegoats, we fought back. Rose was particularly vicious to him in the fight: she shot off one hoof to disarm him, tried shooting him in the kidney (the guy had armor), and then finally killed him with a precise shot through the neck. There were a few shocked reactions around the table over that fight.

Soon after, we found out the villain was using a mind-reading creature to keep tabs on his employees and held their children hostage in a vault. So... some justification there? Perhaps.

My medic in a Fallout Equestria campaign, Doc Wagon, along with teen spellcaster The Great Dichoro, got into a battle against a ghoul batpony spy who tried to kill the head doctor at a still-operational hospital. Dichoro was badly shot in the fight, but managed the knockout blow using a powerful illusion spell. Doc took the ruthless option and shot the spy in the face at point blank range, blowing his head apart. That surprised a lot of people, but the spy hasn't cause a problem since then.
Winged Cat 22nd May 2018, 12:46 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
It would be rather concerning if the spy was still causing trouble after that.
Digo Dragon 23rd May 2018, 6:37 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
Yeah, I'd probably have to call Ghostbusters at that point.
Discord 22nd May 2018, 7:44 AM edit delete reply
Now, if you don't mind; I have some funny blue flowers to plant, a moon to carve, and houses that needs some very realistic flames(non burning of course).
gamemaster80 22nd May 2018, 8:10 AM My being angry story edit delete reply
One of the first times I played DnD was 4E. Now I was in a large group, there were 8 of us and the DM. My character had contracted Mummy Rot and we were a few days away from a city that had a powerful enough cleric to heal me, but everyone, and I do mean everyone, else took my character's ticking clock as an excuse to continue with our current quest.

That all ready had me a little miffed, but I stayed quiet after giving my in-character excuse to head back (and out of character being "I'm the only ranger, the only person here with the skills necessary to survive traveling in the desert, etc.).

So after fighting some jackles, the leader of the group finally decides we should head back to the city. Now at this point I'm taking a good chunk of penalties from mummy rot and I'm steaming. On our way back, the DM days "you come across what at first looked like a cave entrance, but as you near it, it seems more like an ancient ruin..." Now everyone, and again I mean everyone, is immediately like "oh! Let's explore it!"

So I slam my fist down, "seriously!? I'm turning into a corpses! We have the quest item we were sent to find! We have information of an impending attack! We don't have time for this!"

Your can probably imagine the looks I got and character choose to stay outside, to slowly die, while everyone else explored what turned out to be a dragons den. A dragon who was part of the whole, bigger story of the campaign the DM was trying to run. A dragon who I flipped off, both in and out of character, but at this point I was not having fun nor was I enjoying the story or the game. The DM saw fit to have the dragon strike me with a second curse for my transgression.

Yeah, I didn't go back and the group disbanded before the next game even started. (Turns out I wasn't the only one who thought the dragon was a bit much)
Needling Haystacks 22nd May 2018, 9:31 AM edit delete reply
There are 2 ways of looking at this. One is that people are MORE likely to 'snap' when there are no real consequences, since there is no moral back-stop. I mean they're just numbers on paper, right?

The other is that they are less since detachment means they are more likely to examine things rationally.

Similarly, there are two interpretations. One is that such moments are not particularly character-defining for the player as, again, there are no real consequences. One is that they are because it means the person has gotten so into it that they view the world as, on some level, 'real' for the purposes of psychological reaction.

I tend toward the former in both cases. It's just a game after all, you shouldn't take it so seriously that your sense of morality is tied to it.
Hankroyd 22nd May 2018, 1:04 PM edit delete reply
I love the *Beep* signaling Discord hanged up.

Now for the next meeting, is he actually hiding in another room ... wait and see ...
Story Time 22nd May 2018, 1:11 PM edit delete reply
So... The talk of Newbie made me think... Usually the players fight the villain that the DM create for experience or because the quest make them but... Any story that the villain really make you very very angry? That somehow everyone want nothing more that kill him?
Anonymous 22nd May 2018, 6:41 PM I can feel your anger... I don't know if that's a good thing. edit delete reply
So, slightly off topic, but as a player, I'm not really one to be angry at villains. If they gotta be stopped as part of the plot, they gotta be stopped, and whatever happens, happens. I'd rather play the game and focus on the group interactions than get angry at something that isn't really all that important in the grand scheme of things.

That being said, when playing tabletop rpgs, there are definitely times where I get so angry that I legitimately want to start going murderhobo or stop playing the game, usually because I think the dm is trying to pull bullshit on the players or a player is pulling bullshit on everyone else.

"Oh, my character is a 14 year old Sith Assassin who knows how to do everything because of her training! Here, let me have my character teach your Jedi how to saber fight! Do it like this, not like that! Also, she does horrible things in the background and you can't do anything about it because I'm so sneaky and clever!"

"Oh, your side rolled a Triumph! Your troops blow up the tank you were trying to commandeer cause they didn't see you, take damage from the blast!"

"Oh, this villain has a custom artifact, the Most Powerful Weapon of its kind on this planet, because magic weapons are rare here. He just finds this randomly one day, while you literally need divine intervention and planar travel to get more magic anything, and even magical crafting materials are super rare. Oh, he also has an ever-expanding tribe of people to support him, and is collecting MORE artifacts that give control over dragons (cause he's got the resources and know-how to search for those)! He's got all this stuff to make him super strong and easy to be skirmished with, a worthy villain to be mentioned in a big prophecy, and totally isn't a bullshit villain who's superstrong by dm fiat limiting the players horrifically and designed to negate your powers!"

"Oh, perception checks? You see nothing." *moves a bit* "Roll reflex. You fall into a trap, cause you didn't say you were looking."

"Oh, these guys you're trying diplomacy on, and those guys who Totally Won't Betray You, I Swear They Won't, despite you guys calling it from a mile away? They betray you and bad stuff happens despite everything you've been doing up to this point, time for a fight against another bullshit boss."

"What's that? You want to stay up to keep watch for the night? Roll a will save! You fail, you fall asleep, you all wake up in cells and have to fight in a gladiatorial arena as slaves now."

Needless to say, after years of playing tabletop rpgs with this sort of thing going on, I have developed... Trust Issues with villain characters in general (especially the overpowered ones). Or more accurately, I don't get angry at the fictional villains, but rather the GM/player bullshit being spewed in the name of the "story" that they represent. Usually by the point they come into play, I just give up mentally and stop caring, or just stick with it out of spite. Dunno about the other players I've played with, but that kind of stuff is why I get sick of villain shenanigans really quickly (ESPECIALLY if they get to monologue and refuse to shut up, or find ways to get in their speeches without interference).
Robin Bobcat 22nd May 2018, 7:07 PM edit delete reply
I have gamed with the aftermath of that.. of players who got so... intense.. about what their characters were doing, they forgot to have fun. They would be very clear that they would be looking in all directions, even up and down, and be teaching themselves to play the lute, while riding their horse and... it got kind of old.

Of course, I had noped out on a game like that. Our characters were in a town full of so many thieves, that we got robbed absolutely blind, despite travelling in a heavily armed circle, backs together, weapons out.. "Well, they made their skill checks..." *snort*
The Enigmatic Jack 22nd May 2018, 9:24 PM edit delete reply
I've played games like that. Like when we were heading to a cave filled with Kobalds, and there was a tree just standing there in front of it... "That tree is obviously a trap. It's definitely trapped in some way. We should set fire to the tree, because it's obviously a trap." Next thing you know, we all start taking damage because of crossbow bolts flying from the tree. We don't even get a save, because it "took us by surprise."
aylatrigger 22nd May 2018, 10:34 PM edit delete reply
...I am incapable of anger, so it is hard for me to really hate any villain, or roleplay the anger (though I hope my rping can fake the anger well enough...). I have at least decided certain enemies that my characters were absolutely against.
...The major one that comes to mind is one of the shortest-lived enmities. Group was transported somehow to Baal's realm. Baal offered party to become his servants, with one of us as his champion and wielder of the Regalia of Evil (which in this version corrupted you to be more and more evil). Everyone else agreed and fell, but I considered it against my alignment (LG)/personality to agree, and vehemently refused. ...The rest of the party pinned me down and forced the first Regalia on me, turning me evil. I probably would have hated him if I had been able to escape, but as it was I relished the power and my new alignment...
DeS_Tructive 23rd May 2018, 3:33 AM edit delete reply
Gaming allows us to get some honest glimpses deep in to the insides of other people. I've seen people pull off some surprising stuff in games, that actually weren't that surprising, once I got to know them.
I've long said that sitting down to play some games, even something as "basic" as checkers, can reveal a lot about others, especially things they don't want to reveal.
DuoScratch 23rd May 2018, 6:45 AM edit delete reply
Oh god, twilight's turning into THAT player. The one that expected every campaign to be super easy, OR ELSE!
BackSet 23rd May 2018, 5:33 PM edit delete reply
I am beginning to suspect that John de lance actually called hasbro instead of the other way around.
Evilbob 23rd May 2018, 6:16 PM edit delete reply
lol. Way to get all philosophical on us there, Spud.

Whether in RL or in RP, visceral emotions are genuine and when out of control, can indeed result in heinous activity. The nice thing about RP is that there's no RL consequence, lol.
There's a reason guided RP is used as psychotherapy sessions; it can be useful as training to recognize danger signs of, and cope with, excessive emotions.

I would argue that being able to develop self-awareness in knowing what kind of person you are innately (when there are no consequences and you're tested to your limit) is valuable.
Hallan 23rd May 2018, 9:38 PM edit delete reply
Shadowrun campaign. I was the Face of the party, a private investigator who did Shadowruns for extra cash. Intellectual character, at his best outside of combat when I could use my talents as a hobbyist writer to "Detective Castle" the plot. In combat, because I had one action per round while most of the others had three or more, I acted as a combat medic, dashing across the fire zone to skid into place with a medkit next to somebody who'd been hit hard the turn before. Voice of reason, often advocated for mercy for mooks we speedbumped over on our way to the boss.

Then we ran into a street gang that had decided to use an old folks home as a hideout. An occupied old folks home. Whose medications they sold, and whose patients they neglected, while they did what they needed to do for the plot to advance. The team took them down, but kept one for questioning.

By me.

Did I mention that I am -extremely- close to my 90-year-old grandmother, and abuse of the elderly is one of my most volcanic of hot buttons? Jack Castle showed the team why he was viewed askance by the police force that day. The street punk did not survive the experience.

I even unsettled myself a bit with that one.