Page 1075 - Six Step Program

9th Jun 2018, 6:00 AM in The Return of Harmony, Part 1
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Six Step Program
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Newbiespud 9th Jun 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
Which is worse? Being given no chance, or being given a pretense of a chance with a ton of negative modifiers and rolling above a 30 and still making little impact on the situation?

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Discord 9th Jun 2018, 6:19 AM edit delete reply
One of the overlord's rules is never fight a team, if you can fight them one on one.
One of tbe few orderly things I follow.
Specter 9th Jun 2018, 9:13 AM edit delete reply
It's better if I fight alone, less likely I commit friendly fire.
Evilbob 9th Jun 2018, 5:59 PM edit delete reply
Why bother fighting at all?

Just separate them, spin them around, and get them to fight each other. Then munch on popcorn as you watch the show.
Freelance 12th Jun 2018, 1:43 AM edit delete reply
Would the friendly fire be intentional or un-?
The Old One 9th Jun 2018, 11:04 AM edit delete reply
The Lord of Chaos follows rules? Clearly the seeds of your inevitable defeat are already sown.....
Hankroyd 9th Jun 2018, 6:36 AM edit delete reply
I always prefer to give no chance when I set up something evil that has to happens in the scenario.

One critical success and the players began to see the strings of the story. And they hate your guts for the useless critical.
Zaftique 9th Jun 2018, 6:55 AM edit delete reply
That said, if you phrase the result of that critical well enough, it can make the evil event seem even more nefarious.

Everyone decides to take a running leap over a chasm.
"I rolled a 19!"
"A 15!"
"A 17!"
"A 23! Huzzah proficiency bonus!"

"You each make it exactly halfway across, but lose your momentum and begin falling."

"Oh yeah? I got a NAT 20!"

"When you make it halfway across, you feel something your fellows did not - the sensation of an invisible vine or tentacle wrapping itself around your waist and gently, lightly, like the touch of a butterfly, pulling you down into the inky void below you."

Anvildude 9th Jun 2018, 7:22 AM edit delete reply
There are no critical successes on skill checks.

That is an IMPORTANT fact that a lot of players and GMs seem to forget. It's entirely possible (except in 5th) to have a DC of, like, 50, on something. Otherwise, 5% of the time, players could 'swim' through the air to fly, or jump over mountains, or convince a tyrannical king to abdicate his throne to them peacefully.

Things that don't happen, you know?
Zaftique 9th Jun 2018, 7:34 AM edit delete reply
That's why my DM plays it like my example above. A 20 still generates a giddy burst of excitement at the table, and a quality GM can take advantage of that to give the players some kind of narrative flair even if the check itself was guaranteed to fail.

Sure they failed to convince the tyrannical king to abdicate peacefully - but the Bard's words were so lyrical and sweet that he throws the party in the -nicest- dungeon.

Sure the Fighter couldn't jump over the mountain, but she made it a lot farther than anyone else had to that point, and she becomes a minor celebrity in that region.

Guest 9th Jun 2018, 7:52 AM edit delete reply
That's actually kind of neat.

"Your heroic efforts may have failed, but they'll still be spoken of in legend and have an impact of their own."

Heroes are storied. That doesn't necessarily mean they have to always win.
Digo Dragon 9th Jun 2018, 9:58 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
The GM of our current 3.5 game always house-rules in crits for 20s and 1s on skill checks. I dislike it. The monk PC capitalizes on that fact though. He put 1 skill point in every knowledge skill and seems to roll a lot of 20s on knowledge checks. It's kind of funny to watch the GM get flustered over it, but refuse to take down that house rule.
Queensarrow 13th Jun 2018, 6:00 PM edit delete reply
Not sure about anyone else but my group argued for and won critical skill checks, our DM also applied critical fails as well though.

As for swimming in air and other stuff like that? He asked us what spell we were using.
Digo Dragon 9th Jun 2018, 9:56 AM edit delete reply
Digo Dragon
No chance or illusion of chance... that's like asking which kidney I'd like to be stabbed in. It's all going to end in a lot of pain and one less working kidney. :/

Both are terrible situations to get set up in. A good GM should instead give the players a real choice or chance at the situation. For example, two paths, both lead to monsters. Give the PCs the choice of splitting up to sneak attack both monsters or sneak attack one, and having to fight the other one straight up who got alerted to the first one's demise.
RinaldoLuke 10th Jun 2018, 7:18 PM edit delete reply
I like systems where the GM can do something like this as a story element, but give the players something to make up for it: a reroll to be used later or something like that. It helps mollify the hurt feelings from 'railroading' while allowing you to introduce elements necessary for a story.

That, or systems where the GM doesn't roll at all and just narrates, so the PCs are used to the GM just saying "this happens" without rolls or checks involved.
Needling Haystacks 12th Jun 2018, 1:58 PM edit delete reply
DM friend of mine counts nat 20s as base 25s I think it was. Or 23s, depending on the system. Gives a higher chance than the base number, but isn't automatic.
Departure_Dave 9th Jun 2018, 9:10 AM edit delete reply
The pretense is the worst. If it's an overwhelming situation be up front about it so that they don't get really frustrated.

If the players argue, let them know that it's a setup for a later payoff and that they should just go with the flow for now.

Don't pretend that the players themselves have somehow failed by being unable to escape the situations you've put their characters in.
Winged Cat 10th Jun 2018, 5:11 PM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
Agreed. At least "no chance" is honest, rather than "go ahead and roll" and then no matter what you roll it's no chance.
Jannard 9th Jun 2018, 10:35 AM edit delete reply
It depends. Will you disclose the modifiers? Does letting the players try even when you know they will most assuredly fail give them some measure of reassurance that they still have agency? Is the point of the game to force the players into something or is it to just seamlessly guide them through (regardless of outcome)?

As a rule of thumb, howver, it is usually better to just tell them outright they have no chance, the rest, while useful, is either mindgames, or a tacit agreement with the players. The first being usually bad, especially when misused, and the second being unlikely with Discord's DM.
Jannard 9th Jun 2018, 10:47 AM edit delete reply
That said, this is setting up to be very annoying for the players, and very entertaining for us readers!

And I'm intrigued bout what DiscorDM's reaction will be once the players inevitably win. Will he be thrilled by their *insert reason for success*, or annoyed at being outplayed?
Mykin 9th Jun 2018, 12:36 PM edit delete reply
Fluttershy is definitely me in situations like this. More so in the latest 5E game I'm in, where I play a Dragonborn Barbarian with a -2 Dex modifier. The poor guy attracts trouble like there is no tomorrow. And despite knowing that going in the door first will probably get him turned into a pincushion, he's also one of our only frontline fighters, so it's a "screwed if you do, screwed if you don't" type of thing.

Still doesn't stop me from asking our DM if we're really the correct level to be facing this part of the module whenever it happens, though.
Dragonflight 9th Jun 2018, 1:04 PM edit delete reply
At least your barbarian has a brain.

In our Pathfinder game, we have a fighter type played by a person who spends more time watching whatever catches his fancy on his laptop than he does playing the game. He gets away with it because it's his apartment. But he's really not much more than a bit player.

He's also willing to use the rules to screw himself over, not for plot reasons, or anything, but because he sees no logical reason for his player not to take an action, even if we make the specific point of *telling* the character not to.

Case in point: The party is fighting a bunch of minotaurs, and one of them is almost dead. We need him to focus on the minotaur, because as a frontline fighter with a greataxe, he stands the best chance to put the threat down and remove a potential damage machine from play. The minotaur in question also has a greataxe, is a barbarian, and is raging. So we have a certain incentive to want him down.

The player instead chooses to attack a support character the group has been ignoring because he's just not that much of a threat. The reason? "Oh, the rest of you have enough people on that one. And yes, I hear what you're all saying, but honestly, if you can't all kill that one minotaur, you've got bigger problems." And goes on to attack a minor threat.

The enemy minotaur barbarian rolls a critical hit and on a x3 multiple, almost bisects the other fighter in the party. We (somehow) managed to keep him alive and put down the barbarian. Meanwhile, the fighter has switched targets after the first hit, and gone on to charge a spear carrier at the back, because he wants more of a challenge. This exposes his back to the "minor target" he didn't put down, and that minor target - having thief levels - gets to add flanking damage to his attack and allows them to almost double-team the fighter.

Afterward, the fighter's player, when told what a phenomenally *stupid* thing was that he just did, just smiles, shrugs, and says, "Well, that's just life, I guess."

Don't get me started on the giant arctic spider from a game session or two ago. A creature covered in a toxic paralytic that forces anyone engaging in melee to roll a DC24 Reflex save to avoid, and a DC24 Fort save to avoid automatic CON and DEX loss if you fail. And despite discovering this with enough CON and health left that he *absolutely* could have used his boots of striding and springing to at least stay ahead of the spider and lure it back to the group, chooses instead to face off against it and attack *over and over*, until he loses so much CON and DEX that he falls over, and the spider kills him. Then the player *insists* that we save his dead ass and take him to a temple for resurrection, forcing a player to accept a GEAS of nonviolence just to bring back a sorry-ass character whose player is thicker than concrete!

(Pant, pant, pant...) Sorry. That player really ticks me off...
HappyEevee 10th Jun 2018, 5:40 PM edit delete reply
Ask your DM for more fire and acid monsters... if there's no body, you can't rez him short of a Wish or Miracle, neither of which can be gotten at low levels. Also, ask the DM about the standard xp penalties for characters who are rezed. If he keeps dying, he'll get so far behind you guys in levels he'll have to make a new character anyway. Alternatively, get the healers to stop healing him when he does stupid stuff. If he spends enough sessions dead he may take the hint. Failing all that... find a new party. There's no point in spending every week frustrated by a toxic player who won't put effort in.
Sharp Note 9th Jun 2018, 1:37 PM edit delete reply
So last week I GMed the first session of my third Fallout campaign. I gave the players all a budget of 2000 caps, and gave them an extra item, outside of the budget. So they had things like a heavy machinegun(4k caps) or six crank laser musket(not even on the equipment list).

They then met up, snuck through a permanent storm wall, dealing with a few easy encounters to play with their new toys and get to like them. At the end, the guy with no luck stat makes a bad roll, and they are in a hurry to get to the safe point, just a few dozen meters away out of the storm wall. They have to change the filters on their masks. That's when the ambush happens.

So things start happening all at once. The gas grenades pop off, paralyzing them, the lone smart super mutant pc gets a tranq dart to the neck, nets fall on the ghoul doctor and cyberdog, and one of the players asks on the side "Is this one of those things we should try to get out of."

So I point out that his character notices they are all using only non-lethal force, and he nods. Before the pcs black out, the ambusher's leader, Korgoth, this red supermutant guy, monologues that he's under orders not to kill people, yet, and he thanks them for their donation. Then he offers the super mutant PC the opportunity to join his group, and tells him where their HQ is. The party wakes up in a empty building, has most of their equipment except some food and water, and all the fancy out-of-budget weapons they started with.

Anyway, the point of this rambling diatribe is, I think plot-based events need to be balanced somehow. The party got a beatdown, but only lost things they got for free, and have a chance to get them back later in the adventure. I think you can use 'no save, it happens' events, sparingly, to forward the plot if your group is cool with it, and you describe it in a way that makes sense. But there should be compensation, they get a little bit of luck later on, someone comes and helps them out, something bad happened to their enemies, too..

And there should also be events where you have 'You can change this, but it'd be really, really hard' situations. Plan for these. And tell players that it's always okay to try things, but no die roll can stop gravity.

In short, give players plenty of agency most of the time, so when circumstances do limit their choices for the sake of the plot, they still feel like they have control of their fate. That's what I try to do, anyway.
Greenhornet 9th Jun 2018, 4:53 PM edit delete reply
I was in a western game that was semi-steam punk like the Wild, Wild West TV show.
The party consisted of a gunfighter, a hunter a gambler and my character, an older gunman who was studying the new criminology science. (Think of Richard Boon as "Heck Ramsey")
We were after a French James Bond-type villain type who had built a vast European-style estate and got caught in a hedge maze like the one in your story. As we discussed the best way through and the traps we might encounter, the gunfighter said those dreaded words:
"No problem, I got DYNAMITE!"
He lit the fuse and announced "I step back" while my character almost died because I forgot to say "I'm taking cover" as I imagined the idiot PC stand a couple of feet from the charge with his fingers in his ears, grinning.

No, he didn't blow himself up (Darn it). He came to his senses real quick and put it out.
TheStratovarian 11th Jun 2018, 12:09 PM edit delete reply
Honestly, either option makes for a bad dm choice.

Taking away choice from players creates resentment and dislike, and when you have to have fiat involved, you start risking players being willing to destroy your game.
Destroy the road 11th Jun 2018, 12:25 PM edit delete reply
It could be worse... The trap of the mod is a principal thing of the story, why not make it fail? Give them a chance and they somehow make a perfect throw forcing the GM to think something else.
Akouma 11th Jun 2018, 12:48 PM edit delete reply
Depends on whether or not you know odds are being stacked. If you're told "you can roll, but you get a minus 30, need a 45, and a nat-20 isn't an auto success" then it's a much worse feel bad than just a no. But if you're just told "okay, roll it" and the GM from behind the screen applies the minus 30 against a difficulty of 45 then it feels fine usually.

This was our #1 advice to new staffers in the larp I helped run. If you want something to be straight up impossible but the player wants to try, let them do their card pull, tell them they failed and any relevant information they could glean from failing, then move on. And try to avoid where possible telling players the numbers you're using because then you get questions that shatter gameflow like "how does the drunk overweight banker have a defense of 3 with all those negatives?"