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Author Topic: "...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device  (Read 5725 times)

S'mon

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #30 on: May 19, 2016, 04:53:44 AM »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;898518
Side note: I'm reading your blogs (I pay closer attention to SS campaign), and I must say that I find it quite impressive that you manage to control 4 quite difficult and complicated campaigns at once.

Wow. Well done. I'm flattered. :cool:
4 campaigns at once is really too many I think; I'm planning to rest the weekly online Ghinarian Hills one (5e S&S) for a bit until I can conclude the fortnightly Loudwater (4e Epic) one in August. I can't rest my weekly Mentzer Classic Karameikos game since I love the players too much & my son plays in it & would kill me. :D Also one of the players is a brilliant instigator, her renegade Claudia Morrigan Thief PC is returning with plans to wreak horrible revenge on erstwhile Cleric PC comrade Roseanna 'the White Dame' and I'm keen to see how that plays out. My 5e Shattered Star game is trucking along nicely fortnightly, wisest thing there is not to mess with it.

To the extent I have a secret for running 3-4 games, it's minimal prep - only the Pathfinder AP ones ever take much work. Taking good post-session notes is the main thing I do. Generally it's just as easy to create material at the table as beforehand, and simple published adventures (eg Basic Fantasy stuff) make just as good a canvas as complicated ones.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 06:03:03 AM by S'mon »
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JesterRaiin

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #31 on: May 19, 2016, 05:47:40 AM »
Quote from: Bren;898590
Sure.


Thank you.

Side note: Glorantha is my weakness. I wanted to play it since time I encountered The King of Dragon Pass video game, that used Glorantha (or perhaps parts of its lore) for the setting. Unfortunately, I never had the chance. No GMs running them, no players, costly books, different versions/editions... Oh well.

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One complaint I’ve heard leveled against Star Trek and against Star Wars (especially some of the novels) is the repetitive and increasingly implausible galactic threats and planet destroying super weapons. Another is the fact that only the USS Enterprise or Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie seem to be able to stop any of these threats. Everyone else in the universe just seems to sit around on their ass doing nothing too important.  I think that my players and I are old enough and jaded enough by the save the world, quest based fiction we’ve read and seen that games focused on that seem implausible or unattractive to us for one reason or another.


Does it concern RPGs only? If so, then it might come from "sacred canon" phobia. Plenty of GMs I know are afraid to introduce things that might contradict the vision presented in the original work of fiction. Last time I've heard that was not that long ago. A buddy of mine complained on his GM who ran some version of "The Game of Thrones" (aSoF&I). The guy lost control over the game when his players attempted to find and murder Jon Snow. He left everything else and focused entirely on making sure the event won't happen.

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Save the world tends to be a poor choice the closer a game is to zero to hero since the zero’s aren’t capable of stopping a world ending threat (...)


Out of curiosity: is "Frodo" solution (simpletons of low level coming from dumbfucktown, carrying some anti-threat plot device to place X) popular in the big world?

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I see a setting without world ending problem as the norm rather than the exception. So from my point of view there is no need for a solution because there is no problem. In fact I see a really big problem to world ending threats. What happens to all my setting prep when the PCs fail and the world is destroyed?

Is the problem you are experiencing that unless the world is in peril, the players just want their PCs to hang around corner tavern or sit in their living rooms watching holonet dramas? Or is it some other problem?


Bad choice of words. ;)
It's not that I have a problem to solve, I'm simply looking for interesting, and, if possible, original alternatives to this specific theme.

As for the PCs failing - this isn't applicable to all scenarios, but the doom might be either postponed indefinitely, averted in some other way (all hail Deus Ex Machina), the result might not be that bad as assumed (the Asteroid reaches the Earth, but it breaks down on multiple pieces, the majority of which land in the oceans - a few cities are destroyed, but nothing really major), or there's jump over shark and the setting becomes post-apo. None of these solutions is very good, but they still might play well.

As for my players - we're playing in the many-world setting, and I think that at least two players feel a bit clueless. It's not the problem of the lack of options, but in their abundance. I might be wrong, but it it seems they don't know which path to follow and they could use a shift from a more or less "sandbox" style of adventuring to some solid story arc. I have absolutely nothing against it, but I'd rather use some alternative to the default Big Threat, hence the thread. :)

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(...)Tekumel.


This is weird, you know. I recall way less famous games being mentioned every now and then. I'm not sure why it's like that.

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Yeah. We tend to play a lot in each setting. My current Honor+Intrigue campaign has been going on weekly since July 2012. It's not as long lasting as several other campaigns, but it is getting there. Last Friday we played session 203. There has yet to be a world ending threat of any kind. The players don’t seem bored.

The only game where world ending threats are the norm that we do play is Call of Cthulhu and there the PCs never end the threat, at best they delay it.


#203? Admirable!

I had similar experience, yet in my case, sooner or later parting the ways with current setting was discussed and rather than simply putting it on the shelf players almost always choose some world-ending campaign.

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I’d replace it with a world without a global threat. A world in which the PCs struggle for success whether that is personal, family, or community against the sort of obstacles: NPCs with conflicting goals and occasionally the environment itself.

(...)

Shifting scale is one approach. Shifting focus from saving the world to maintaining or increasing one’s wealth, power, status, and influence is another. Those goals tend to be much less about saving the world. I tend to do both in the games I run.


Those are very good ideas, but that's pretty much how we're playing so far - PCs are acting as field agents to more powerful figures, protectors, defenders, thieves, diplomats and what not. They also build their own power structures and amass personal wealth and influence. Surprisingly, they didn't start to plot against each other, which is very uncommon in this kind of a game.

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The modern developed world is pretty safe. I’ve found petty theft, e.g. pick pockets to be a significant threat in some parts of Europe and any country is likely to have some bad neighborhoods, but physical violence is pretty rare in outside those areas. Outside the cities in the developed world we’ve eliminated animals like wolves, lions, and bears that pose a threat and brigandage is at an all time low. Now if the PCs travel by ship in certain waters piracy is still a valid threat even in the modern world. And in some third world countries anarchy and banditry is still an issue. But I wouldn’t expect a modern day police procedural, spy vs. spy, or monster hunters campaign would have game events driven by random monster tables with actual monsters.


Precisely.
Even in considerably savage parts of the world it's not granted that a tiger will leap at you out of friggin' nowhere, or that you're gonna find a poisonous spider in your boots when you get up. There are exceptions, of course, and it doesn't hurt to check first, but there's hardly any need to become paranoid about that either. ;)

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I use a lot of random encounters. Not all are dangerous, but brigandage is still an issue in 1620s Europe whether inside or outside of a city. And gentleman all carry swords and a lot of people are pretty touchy about their honor and dueling is a cultural norm. It is worth keeping in mind that the most dangerous thing to man is other men.


Same here, same here...

Still, using random encounters table/wandering monsters is fully optional, and the GM is free (or rather "urged") to adjust the meeting to his players' capabilities and introduce a twist - what seems to be a party of soon-to-be-XPs goblinoids might as well finish in "help me Obi-Wan, you're my last hope". ;)

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Do many people base campaigns on settings that are quite safe?


I'm not sure, I can only speak of myself and people I know. I assume it's quite common, albeit a little complicated - it all depends on whom you ask: from the POV of world's inhabitants it's hardly a heaven, but all you need to do is to stay out of troubles, avoid certain places and don't express certain opinions too loud around certain people.

Now, adventurers - that's entirely different kind of breed. They actively seek troubles, they thrive on them, so according to them the world might be quite hostile, deadly and the danger might hide behind every corner. Still, it comes with the territory and this is exactly what their players want.
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S'mon

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #32 on: May 19, 2016, 05:58:56 AM »
For creating human-scale threats I highly recommend this book - http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/16900/DMGR6-The-Complete-Book-of-Villains-2e?it=1
The discussion of Villainous Networks is particularly inspirational, and I'm sure influenced me when creating Neo-Nerath/Black Sun for my Wilderlands campaigns. The Princes of Neo Nerath and their Knights Concordant function as a network of interesting and powerful individuals; taking down one is an achievement but does not destroy the organisation.
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JesterRaiin

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #33 on: May 19, 2016, 06:00:51 AM »
Quote from: S'mon;898663
Wow. Well done. I'm flattered. :cool:

4 campaigns at once is really too many I think; I'm planning to rest the weekly online Ghinarian Hills one (5e S&S) for a bit until I can conclude the fortnightly Loudwater (4e Epic) one in August. I can't rest my weekly Mentzer Classic Karameikos game since I love the players too much & my son plays in it & would kill me. :D Also one of the players is a brilliant instigator, her renegade Claudia Morrigan PC is returning with plans to wreak horrible revenge on erstwhile comrade Roseanna and I'm keen to see how that plays out. My 5e Shattered Star game is trucking along nicely fortnightly, wisest thing there is not to mess with it.

To the extent I have a secret for running 3-4 games, it's minimal prep - only the Pathfinder AP ones ever take much work. Taking good post-session notes is the main thing I do. Generally it's just as easy to create material at the table as beforehand, and simple published adventures (eg Basic Fantasy stuff) make just as good a canvas as complicated ones.


It might be only me, and I'm not particularly resourceful kind of guy, but still, 4 full-scale campaigns at once... Minimal preps and simple notes can't be the complete answer - the amount of elements, plot seeds, NPCs, items, places, not to mention ideas about where to push the story next must be really staggering.

I'd appreciate learning that your memory is far from "common level" and/or you posses great multitasking capabilities. If not, then I'll have to rethink my opinion about my own Gamemastery.
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S'mon

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #34 on: May 19, 2016, 06:11:43 AM »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;898668
It might be only me, and I'm not particularly resourceful kind of guy, but still, 4 full-scale campaigns at once... Minimal preps and simple notes can't be the complete answer - the amount of elements, plot seeds, NPCs, items, places, not to mention ideas about where to push the story next must be really staggering.

I'd appreciate learning that your memory is far from "common level" and/or you posses great multitasking capabilities. If not, then I'll have to rethink my opinion about my own Gamemastery.


Hah. My memory is crap! :D I often ask players to remind me of stuff; or in the online game minutes pass while I go look stuff up (usually stats). There's a lot of duck-paddling going on too.
A few good resources are important - for Wilderlands that's the Ghinarian Hills campaign page and the NPC stats blog. For Karameikos it's GAZ 1 Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Plus published old school modules for both, simpler the better. The d6 is my friend, rolling to see if something happens - on a '6' X happens, which might be a wandering monster table roll but equally well could be the Griffon Riders of Highaven swooping in to aid the heroes' battle, or interception by the undead war fleet of Neo-Nerath - whatever looks plausible.
There is a lot of not sweating the small stuff, plus a lot of "God I wish I'd taken 30 minutes to do some prep before running this session". :)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 06:39:33 AM by S'mon »
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S'mon

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2016, 06:17:52 AM »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;898668
the amount of elements, plot seeds, NPCs, items, places, not to mention ideas about where to push the story next must be really staggering...

...great multitasking capabilities...

I guess I'm quite good at multitasking, which really means "do X quickly, then stop doing X and do Y" - and only do as much as you need (I usually do too little & too late). I do very little 'push the story', I have some very very broad general ideas about enemy threats, but the main trick is getting into the head of enemy NPCs so they act and react naturalistically in the moment. This means the players are often taken by surprise - the antagonists' agendas rarely focus around the PCs so they often act unpredictably, in pursuit of their own goals. Villains don't just sit there, but neither do I have piles of notes on what they'll do next, I have a very simple basic idea of what eg Warlord Yusan wants and what he'll do to get it.
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Rincewind1

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2016, 06:30:01 AM »
From practical worldbuilding perspective, a Big Threat, especially of the endless and undefeatable variety, such as Chaos in WFRP, Those....Chaosy things beyond the wall in L5R, evil ghosts in Deadlands, Horrors in Earthdawn (even if waning, they are still basically endless), offers a shortcut for GMs - you always can spawn a minor or major Baddie who's a servant of the Great Big Undefeatable Threat. Myself, I grew bored of such shortcuts, and I especially hate the Endless Evil Beyond The Wall trope.

Myself, I mostly play without overarching great evil, but I did run one campaign specifically dedicated to it - a pseudoancient world with MAGIC and Fantasy Races added, where the PCs were playing out a Judeochristian Messiah facing off against the Pagan Gods (actually devils masquarading as such), with ultimate reveal that it was Satan himself that had to be defeated in order to fulfill the destiny and save the world from being ruled by an Evil Roman Empire. It was quite fun, and I think Great Evils do work well, as long as you make the focus of the campaign fighting them, and you don't make then endless.

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My Twilight Dominion setting (totally homebrew, so no product to point you towards) is basically a mashup of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique, Doyle's Hyperboria, and the world of Den from the Heavy Metal movie. Earth's in it's twilight, the most powerful individual is The Necromancer, the Empire isn't nice, and hates you, and people cavort with dark powers. And all the plots are personal. One had the players preventing the empress from making a pact with the necromancer, not because it will save them, but because she screwed them over. Another has them swooping into a city about to be destroyed, not to save the town, but to save a love interest of one of the necromancer's minions in exchange for removing a rune the necromancer put on them.
[/quote]
As a huge fan of both CAS and Heavy Metal stylistics, you'd not have this stashed on a wiki somewhere, would you?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2016, 06:40:16 AM by Rincewind1 »
Furthermore, I consider that  This is Why We Don't Like You thread should be closed

Ravenswing

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2016, 07:44:09 AM »
Quote from: Bren;898590
In fact I see a really big problem to world ending threats. What happens to all my setting prep when the PCs fail and the world is destroyed?
This is part of the reason I'm militant where player agency is involved.  

A crystallizing incident was in a startup combat fantasy LARP I was in for a bit.  The organizers had set up an event that wound up with a small party of PCs going off to Solve The Adventure, while the rest of us were holding off the monster hordes from crossing a bridge and getting into the party's rear.  I was, at the time, the only PC who was a titled noble (and, as much to the point, a number of the PCs were vassals of mine in another LARP where I was a monarch), and I was leading the defense.  A certain point came where we were taking a hammering, and that was the point where the orc horde drew back to "regroup."  I was baffled -- they had us on the ropes, and could have punched through.  

And then I narrowed my gaze -- the light bulb going on in my head -- and rubbed my chin, and gave the order to pull back to the encampment.  The other players were amazed: we're leaving the bridge open, the monsters can get through!  Nonetheless ... and then the orcs came in another rush, and rushed at the undefended bridge ... and milled around, confused, peering over towards the camp at us.  I suggested to the other PCs that anyone who wanted to do combat practice with the orcs could do it with my good will, and blessings upon them, but I'd be damned if I was going to sweat any more over meaningless make-work combats that were plainly there to give the 4/5ths of the player base who weren't the Favored Questers something to do.  My tent was right there, and my comfortable cushions, and my cook gear, and did anyone else want some beef stirfry?

And yeah, that's part of the problem with Save The World: either you mean it, in which case you have to press the case for the Bad Guys to get the job done if the PCs boot it, or you don't, in which case you're giving them meaningless make-work adventures.

The other problem is in escalation; a term I use for the syndrome is "What do you do the day after Armageddon?" which was the title of a Legion of Super-Heroes comic issue right after a multi-year apocalyptic plot arc.  Great, so in the first movie you blow up the Death Star.  Urr, okay, in the third movie you blow up ANOTHER Death Star.  Urrr, okay, in the new movie there's a super-uber Death Thingie that can snuff multiple planets at once, from light-years away!  Yeah!

So what do you combat next?  A weapon that can cause the heat-death of the universe?  A tag team of Galactus, Morgoth and Darkseid?  If you start the night's bidding at $10,000 a point, you don't have much scope for upping the ante.


Quote from: JesterRaiin;898661
Out of curiosity: would you rather send a clear message about who is "the worse one", or choose ambiguous solution? You know, "Hitler, that way", or "well, you start in country X, there's a tension on western and eastern borders, but who is right and who is wrong it's up to you to find out, guys".
I run a sandbox, and it's not any part of my remit to tell players what to do.  If the PCs are citizens of Country X, it's up to them to decide how patriotic they are.  Some of them are, some of them aren't.  I've had groups decide "Hey, we live here, let's pitch in and help defend it."  I've had groups decide "Screw this, I'm not dying just so the King can rest easy, I hear Drakanium's nice and warm this time of year."  I've had groups decide to fight for what I would objectively, OOC, deem to be the Evil Aggressor Empire, because they were natives of that realm.
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JesterRaiin

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2016, 08:00:31 AM »
Quote from: S'mon;898669
Hah. My memory is crap! :D (...)


I agree that all that helps - a lot, especially helpful, forgiving players are godsend. Still, impressive achievement.

This isn't an empty flattery, I know what I'm talking about: I ran SS for PFRPG, an additional SF scenario and participated as a player in one more, and while none was neither particularly detailed nor complicated, it was enough to keep me occupied for a time being and deplete my creative energies a bit.
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S'mon

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2016, 08:48:33 AM »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;898684
I agree that all that helps - a lot, especially helpful, forgiving players are godsend. Still, impressive achievement.

This isn't an empty flattery, I know what I'm talking about: I ran SS for PFRPG, an additional SF scenario and participated as a player in one more, and while none was neither particularly detailed nor complicated, it was enough to keep me occupied for a time being and deplete my creative energies a bit.

Shattered Star AP is nice - plays much better than it reads - and blending it with Rise of the Runelords AP will keep it fresh for me, I know upfront I'm not likely to use everything (eg might never use Book 6). Crimson Throne AP was really tough though; read well but really hard to run. Running SS in 5e so I know to ignore most of what's in the stat blocks helps a lot. I am feeling depleted since restarting Loudwater though (plus my non-gaming social life is getting busy) so planning to rest the Wilderlands campaign after one more session. That will leave me with 3 games, 1 weekly & 2 alternate fortnightly, which has been ok so far. I think I'm going to try to keep it to maximum 3 campaigns in future.
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AsenRG

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2016, 08:52:21 AM »
Quote from: Bren;898593

Do many people base campaigns on settings that are quite safe?

All the people that play urban fantasy, which is set in the modern world, and that's just for a start?

Quote from: JesterRaiin;898659
So far, I think it depends on both "sides" of the equation - true, good GM should theoretically be able to create vision interesting enough for players to find their own source of satisfaction, determine their own goals and such. Yet, there are parties that (for often different reasons) don't feel like becoming parts of the setting and expect for the GM to place "adventure, this way" signs.

I've said it before on this forum: if you have even a hint of suspicion about your players' ability to find adventure, make them create motivations that they really crave, and put them on their character sheets:).

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I think it deserves a thread on its own. ;)

Start it, then :)?

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Sorry, by "they" I meant BBEEG/War, not PCs.

Ah well, I misunderstood. But I'd point out that it's still "a threat I didn't need to put in the setting" (since, in all likelihood, PCs contributed to it, even if only by inaction).

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As for the means, well, it's up to the GM, ain't it?

I can dispute that. But if it is up to the GM...why would I promote a threat to world-spanning, if I didn't want world-spanning threats in the first place:D?

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Local gangster, a bully really, might become turned by a vampire, find/steal a powerful artifact or simply find himself in right place, right time and become next world conqueror. It happened with a certain painter, after all... ;)

Or it might not happen, even if those elements are part of the setting, and even if I deemed it likely...because then I threw percentile dice, and it wasn't meant to be. And it's not a given that they're present.

Quote from: JesterRaiin;898661

Out of curiosity: would you rather send a clear message about who is "the worse one", or choose ambiguous solution? You know, "Hitler, that way", or "well, you start in country X, there's a tension on western and eastern borders, but who is right and who is wrong it's up to you to find out, guys".

My players would really laugh at me if I sent such a message...or assume I'm on drugs, because that would be a drastic change.

Quote from: Ravenswing;898683
This is part of the reason I'm militant where player agency is involved.  

A crystallizing incident was in a startup combat fantasy LARP I was in for a bit.  The organizers had set up an event that wound up with a small party of PCs going off to Solve The Adventure, while the rest of us were holding off the monster hordes from crossing a bridge and getting into the party's rear.  I was, at the time, the only PC who was a titled noble (and, as much to the point, a number of the PCs were vassals of mine in another LARP where I was a monarch), and I was leading the defense.  A certain point came where we were taking a hammering, and that was the point where the orc horde drew back to "regroup."  I was baffled -- they had us on the ropes, and could have punched through.  

And then I narrowed my gaze -- the light bulb going on in my head -- and rubbed my chin, and gave the order to pull back to the encampment.  The other players were amazed: we're leaving the bridge open, the monsters can get through!  Nonetheless ... and then the orcs came in another rush, and rushed at the undefended bridge ... and milled around, confused, peering over towards the camp at us.  I suggested to the other PCs that anyone who wanted to do combat practice with the orcs could do it with my good will, and blessings upon them, but I'd be damned if I was going to sweat any more over meaningless make-work combats that were plainly there to give the 4/5ths of the player base who weren't the Favored Questers something to do.  My tent was right there, and my comfortable cushions, and my cook gear, and did anyone else want some beef stirfry?

And yeah, that's part of the problem with Save The World: either you mean it, in which case you have to press the case for the Bad Guys to get the job done if the PCs boot it, or you don't, in which case you're giving them meaningless make-work adventures.


I applaud you for calling the bluff:D!
But I must point out that I have, indeed, ended the world. Because a rag-tag group failed to save it.
After the TPK, I suggested that they make characters. My first words after that were "100 years ago, in the Realm of the Shadow, hope is running low and some heroes are urgently needed to spearhead a rebellion":p.

So much for "the GM isn't going to End the World";).
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Xanther

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2016, 10:31:13 AM »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;898465
...

My questions are:


Do you know/play some settings void of such a threat?
 Yes.  Most commercial settings I've seen or played don't have such threats hard baked in.  Most settings I've played are not commercial, they are peoples personal creations.

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Do your players/yourself enjoy them as much as ones with such a feature?

 I and my players hate the Big Threat setting.  It's trite and limiting.   It is fun to play such games and completely ignore the Big Threat and turn the tables on the setting creators idea of how you are supposed to play.

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Did you develop some clever alternative to the Big Threat
 Why yes. I've used the Big Threat (it's the end of the world) with mixed players (some liked it some not) but it wasn't really.  Oh the NPCs thought it was the end of the world, it was just really a bad thing (locally), the world goes on.  Not sure how clever it is, just part of my view that even the best intentioned, informed and trustworthy NPCs can be wrong about things.  Players should think for themselves.
 

Trond

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #42 on: May 19, 2016, 10:39:57 AM »
We had quite a bit of fun with Houses of the Blooded. It does not have any such threat in the setting.

Rincewind1

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #43 on: May 19, 2016, 11:16:57 AM »
Quote from: Ravenswing;898683
This is part of the reason I'm militant where player agency is involved.  

A crystallizing incident was in a startup combat fantasy LARP I was in for a bit.  The organizers had set up an event that wound up with a small party of PCs going off to Solve The Adventure, while the rest of us were holding off the monster hordes from crossing a bridge and getting into the party's rear.  I was, at the time, the only PC who was a titled noble (and, as much to the point, a number of the PCs were vassals of mine in another LARP where I was a monarch), and I was leading the defense.  A certain point came where we were taking a hammering, and that was the point where the orc horde drew back to "regroup."  I was baffled -- they had us on the ropes, and could have punched through.  

And then I narrowed my gaze -- the light bulb going on in my head -- and rubbed my chin, and gave the order to pull back to the encampment.  The other players were amazed: we're leaving the bridge open, the monsters can get through!  Nonetheless ... and then the orcs came in another rush, and rushed at the undefended bridge ... and milled around, confused, peering over towards the camp at us.  I suggested to the other PCs that anyone who wanted to do combat practice with the orcs could do it with my good will, and blessings upon them, but I'd be damned if I was going to sweat any more over meaningless make-work combats that were plainly there to give the 4/5ths of the player base who weren't the Favored Questers something to do.  My tent was right there, and my comfortable cushions, and my cook gear, and did anyone else want some beef stirfry?

And yeah, that's part of the problem with Save The World: either you mean it, in which case you have to press the case for the Bad Guys to get the job done if the PCs boot it, or you don't, in which case you're giving them meaningless make-work adventures.

The other problem is in escalation; a term I use for the syndrome is "What do you do the day after Armageddon?" which was the title of a Legion of Super-Heroes comic issue right after a multi-year apocalyptic plot arc.  Great, so in the first movie you blow up the Death Star.  Urr, okay, in the third movie you blow up ANOTHER Death Star.  Urrr, okay, in the new movie there's a super-uber Death Thingie that can snuff multiple planets at once, from light-years away!  Yeah!

So what do you combat next?  A weapon that can cause the heat-death of the universe?  A tag team of Galactus, Morgoth and Darkseid?  If you start the night's bidding at $10,000 a point, you don't have much scope for upping the ante.



Hah, I remember a similar situation, except I was playing the Evil Side - we were reborn Order of the Black Dragon (a Teutonic Knights expy). We did all of our plotlines in about 2 hours, so to give players a chance to actually unite (everyone of us had about 2x the HP of a Fighter class, we were relatively well equipped and there was about 20 - 30 of us, united) we had to walk around. I mean literally walk around. Just march around like in Monty Python sketch. For 2 - 3 hours.
Furthermore, I consider that  This is Why We Don't Like You thread should be closed

Ravenswing

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"...an ancient evil has awoken", or the Big Threat plot device
« Reply #44 on: May 19, 2016, 12:42:45 PM »
Quote from: AsenRG;898691
I applaud you for calling the bluff:
But I must point out that I have, indeed, ended the world. Because a rag-tag group failed to save it. After the TPK, I suggested that they make characters. My first words after that were "100 years ago, in the Realm of the Shadow, hope is running low and some heroes are urgently needed to spearhead a rebellion".  So much for "the GM isn't going to End the World".
Welllll ... if it hadn't been a bluff, and the orcs made a legitimate charge across the bridge to go for the questers, I would've coped well enough -- ordered our slower runners to overtake the orcs and assault them from the rear, where the woodland path would give maximum play to our heavier-armored front line, while I led the sprinters around the long loop and see if we couldn't take them in the flank.  (Not that it would've taken me more than a couple seconds; I'd been leading troops in LARPs for nearly a decade at that point.  Not my first rodeo, as my wife says!)

Yeah, I was dead certain it was a bluff -- it wasn't the first or the second event that came down to a Small Band of Questers and everyone else doing Other Stuff -- but no need for complacency.  ;)

Regarding your After-The-World-Ends scenario, I wonder how many GMs have dared to do it all the way: a true "hopeless" campaign, where evil has won, its victory is permanent, and its sway absolute?  Where the best the PCs can do before their inevitable deaths is to light a small candle?
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