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Author Topic: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted  (Read 2957 times)

GeekyBugle

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #120 on: April 29, 2021, 10:26:16 PM »
Also true.  Overall less of a rule and more of a guideline with plenty of room needed for context.


Still, I'm not going to be a hard ass about it, especially if I'm supposed to be running a high heroics game like pulp action.

It might be a point of privilege that the last time I had a player willfully ignorant of consequences was in highschool when somebody jumped into a literal abyss and got pissy when I said "yeah, that was suicide. You aren't coming back from that."

I try to question people these days. 

However, it was only a month or two ago when as party found a saboteur, but it was so late at night nobody picked up on the heavy hints I was trying to drop that there might still be bombs.

Fortunately it was a one shot scenario with no further sessions planned, so I didn't feel TOO bad about detonating the building in their sleep.

LOL, been there done that. And not so long ago (and I bet I'm way older than you), all it took was taking one too many before the game session, forgot Stone Giants have magic immunity, pissed of some and got our followers killed.

Same campaign, we're facing a Wyvern and our heroic Bard jumps infront of me and gets stabed with it's tail, killed the thing and managed to save the bard thru quick thinking and the smart use of healing from the cleric and a potion of clear waters.

By pure luck (and the abismal rolls of our DM) not a single PC died then.

But, same campaign, we spot some green things sprouting from the ground, suspecting something I pocke it with my staff and it was a monster, killed our dwarven warrior.

Any of those should have been modified by the GM in a Pulp Game?

IMHO no, no pain no gain, no risk no sense of achievment.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

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GeekyBugle

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #121 on: April 29, 2021, 10:40:37 PM »
Fate/Luck/etc points... I still fecking hate metacurrency. But given the genre it might be an unavoidable evil.

Random thought, but I wonder if Fate/Luck/etc. can be changed to a type of attribute or special stat (maybe called Determination or Daring) that needs to be rolled in order to get a "luck" related benefit. Maybe limit it to once per encounter (or until circumstances change) to avoid abuse, with cumulative penalties per time used per session. That way you can get something similar to a metacurrency without actually using a metacurrency.

Or is your deep-seated hatred of metacurrency rooted on something else?

Lets see how you like this:

CharGen Feats, meaning they can only be taken AT chargen:

Pick two?

Lucky, You can re roll once per session but must keep the result of that roll.

Gifted: Raise ONE attribute by 2, no attribute can be higher than 18.

Looker: You're very atractive, get +1 in any rolls to influence, seduce, etc.

Though as Nails: Get +1 in any SW

Second Wind: When you're at 0 HP you're not unconscious, keep fighting until the end of the round.

Inspiration: Get +1 in rolls of deduction, invention, investigation...
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjC7-w5KDKNiD-k0tVo1DPw?view_as=subscriber

HappyDaze

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #122 on: April 29, 2021, 10:54:04 PM »


Poor choices on the players part should (IMHO) ALWAYS result in what they should result, even death, never mind the genre of the Game.

I understand you, I don't agree with you, but I understand you.

Of course there is a gradient here.   The poor choices I'm talking about are more mistakes and errors and not self sabotaging nonsense behavior.

Players and GMs alike get tired and make mistakes, we aren't our characters, nobody is at the top of their game even on game nights, etc etc.

If they take an action that is directly  or clearly suicidal, that is different.  That stopped being a mistake and started being a very brief lifestyle choice.

It's not always easy to know when an action is directly or clearly suicidal, especially in a pulp game. Star Wars is close enough to pulp that I'll use the example of using hyperspace inside an atmosphere. Clearly impossible/suicidal...until it suddenly wasn't anymore.

You're in the temple of whashisname, there's a giant face in the wall with it's mouth open (the GM already decided it's gonna chomp on whatver gets inside the mouth) and you stick your head in it.

Should the GM change on the fly the trap so you don't die?

Are we sure you're not a fan of critical role?
Get your head out of your ass. None of what you said has anything to do with the point I was making.

mAcular Chaotic

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #123 on: April 29, 2021, 11:05:01 PM »

You're in the temple of whashisname, there's a giant face in the wall with it's mouth open (the GM already decided it's gonna chomp on whatver gets inside the mouth) and you stick your head in it.

Should the GM change on the fly the trap so you don't die?

Are we sure you're not a fan of critical role?
If your players are just being suicidal that's a different problem.

A pulpy way to deal with a trap like this is to slow down the action, let the players SEE the trap springing, then give them a chance to react. "The mouth begins to close... what do you do?!" instead of "Oops, it closes and you're dead."
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

GeekyBugle

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #124 on: April 29, 2021, 11:14:32 PM »

You're in the temple of whashisname, there's a giant face in the wall with it's mouth open (the GM already decided it's gonna chomp on whatver gets inside the mouth) and you stick your head in it.

Should the GM change on the fly the trap so you don't die?

Are we sure you're not a fan of critical role?
If your players are just being suicidal that's a different problem.

A pulpy way to deal with a trap like this is to slow down the action, let the players SEE the trap springing, then give them a chance to react. "The mouth begins to close... what do you do?!" instead of "Oops, it closes and you're dead."

Yeah, I know you want the PCs to be immortal and unbeatable. I don't.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjC7-w5KDKNiD-k0tVo1DPw?view_as=subscriber

mAcular Chaotic

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #125 on: April 30, 2021, 12:30:09 AM »
All right. I see you're just here to argue. Good luck with your non-pulp pulp game.
Battle doesn't need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose. You don't ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don't ask why I fight.

GeekyBugle

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #126 on: April 30, 2021, 12:35:09 AM »
All right. I see you're just here to argue. Good luck with your non-pulp pulp game.

Actually the thread was for sharing tropes others thought should be subverted, it was you who turned it into a discussion of my choices in my game.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjC7-w5KDKNiD-k0tVo1DPw?view_as=subscriber

Manic Modron

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #127 on: April 30, 2021, 01:16:22 AM »
I'm starting to feel like I am arguing against survival threats in gaming, and I am absolutely not.  There is a lot of fun to be had sitting down and wondering if this is the game where I run out of luck and go tumbling into a pit of spikes. 

It is just that at a certain point (that will certainly vary according to taste) a trope can be subverted so hard that it changes the genre of the game/movie/book and that is a risky endeavor.   One might think that an espionage game where the supernatural is really real and the PCs get tumbled into an underworld of vampires and cultists instead of KGB agents and terrorist cells is a subversion, but players might backlash because they wanted no fucking magic in their technothriller intrigue. 

Similarly, if it is a Pulp game on the menu, nobody is going to have to roll to save vs disease, even if they are tromping through the jungle in khaki shorts and a button down short sleeved shirt. It just isn't done. 

Unless of course a player is having a "Why are you like this" moment and decides to go for a swim in a leech infested bog, but that is their fault for fucking with the premise and doing random bullshit in an establishing shot.  Setting up rules and expectations can easily be dismantled by hypothetical players that refuse to engage with the pitch and I think we've all had some of those. 



Personally, I think that some of the examples set by Geekybugle are Pulpy enough with hardly any GM interference, but instead of second guessing that history, let me give an example from a different game: the Arkham Horror card game.  It is pulpy as HELL in my eyes.  For all the tradition of Mythos investigators being killed or eaten or going mad before the adventure is over, these investigators can be pretty durable since the game is set up so that they don't often actually die or go completely bonkers.  Specifically, the only things that can usually do this out of hand are end game conflicts. 

However, that doesn't mean that shit can't go seriously, nail-bitingly wrong.  Failure to achieve certain goals in a scenario WILL come back and bite you in the ass later and some of those goals conflict with each other.  But the threat isn't really "are the investigators going to get gunned down by the mob when monsters crash the speak-easy," but "is the mob going to swear vengeance and come back to haunt the investigators later" and "is somebody going to be easier to take out later because they have a bullet in the shoulder now."  The players can expect the characters will survive being ripped into a dimensional vortex and hurtled beyond space and time for a while, but they aren't going to be happy about it or able to neglect the consequences of the experience.  No comic relief Loki "I've been falling for half an hour!" and then nothing wrong after the audience has a chuckle here.


I agree completely with the Nerd-Trumpeter.

No difficulty, no accomplishment.
No pain, no gain.
No risk, no reward.

But pain and risk have a lot of different flavors and you can put the hurt and fear and triumph and accomplishment into players without survival necessarily being a chip on the table.

Or in a different kind of game they can roll a one while walking down the wrong hallway and go tumbling into a pit of spikes.

GeekyBugle

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #128 on: April 30, 2021, 02:03:00 AM »
The Nerd-Trumpeteer huh?  ;D

I thinkm we all agree more than disagree and maybe we're all talking past each other.

In a Novel/Movie/etc the protagonist can't and won't die because it's The Protagonist tm.

In an RPG IMHO a certain ammount of death risk must ALWAYS be on the table (not in every session/decision/etc), in a Pulp one this might be less than normal, or it can be handled by giving the PCs ways to cheat death (see my CharGen Feats up).

And the rest of the time the risk can be other things, this is something that is also done in Fantasy RPGs by some GMs, it's up for the GM to handle, not for the rules.

Because if it's by rule then we're playing Toon. And also because some GMs might want a hig lethality, who am I to try and predict what every table wants? So the game has the rules in a certain way as to make it easy for the GM to tune it up or down to his liking.
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

― George Orwell

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S'mon

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #129 on: April 30, 2021, 03:32:07 AM »
My Primeval Thule 5e campaign went for a 'pulp' tone from level 1. All I did was give everyone their full CON score as bonus hp - so eg a CON 14 Barbarian would normally have 14 hp, in this they had 28. Didn't make them invincible. By contrast OD&D PCs with 1d6+1 hp & die at 0 are never going to fit pulp genre norms.

Eirikrautha

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #130 on: April 30, 2021, 07:04:44 AM »
All right. I see you're just here to argue. Good luck with your non-pulp pulp game.

Actually the thread was for sharing tropes others thought should be subverted, it was you who turned it into a discussion of my choices in my game.

Well, it worked really well in the Star Wars movies, so I'm sure rejecting major pulp tropes will be exactly what your players want from their pulp game.  Perhaps you can bring in Rian Johnson as a consultant?

S'mon

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #131 on: April 30, 2021, 08:08:57 AM »
Do you agree or disagree? Why? Do you have some other examples of Fiction Tropes that shouldn't make it ever to the rules/table?

I guess everyone disagrees with the proposal that Pulp genre PCs should ever die as frequently as first level characters in OD&D. Most of us are ok with *some* risk of PC death, though.

Trope subversion can work if done cleverly - Joss Whedon at his best is an exemplar of this, like the Buffy episode where the 'it takes an army to stop him' Judge BBEG gets obliterated by one shot from a LAW. That's exactly the stuff players love - Alexander discusses this a bit in his latest video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_e3KFMZb-0 - fudging to keep the BBEG alive may be in-genre but I'd say is a great example of a genre trope that should never hit the game table.

S'mon

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #132 on: April 30, 2021, 08:10:23 AM »
Well, it worked really well in the Star Wars movies, so I'm sure rejecting major pulp tropes will be exactly what your players want from their pulp game.  Perhaps you can bring in Rian Johnson as a consultant?

Yes, trope subversion for the sake of it is a quick trip to Rian Johnson's Circle of the Damned. If in doubt, play it safe and stick to the tropes.

S'mon

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #133 on: April 30, 2021, 08:20:54 AM »
The Pulp Avengers https://www.fantasylibrary.com/lounge/pulpavengers.htm And it is correct that the Pulp heroes didn't die, and many times neither did the villains.

What it says there:

II REDUCED HERO DEATHS

Pulp heroes face incredible danger every day, but very rarely came to any serious harm during their death-defying adventures. Pushed out of flying aeroplanes, being trapped in flooded caverns, dodging a hail of gangster lead, pulp heroes survived it all, with only torn shirts, ripped stockings and mussed hair to hint at the dangers they had faced. In a fair fight, the good guys never lost, being beaten by the bad guys only through overwhelming odds, hypnotism, traps, and other cowardly and treacherous acts. A combination of clever tricks, fast thinking, audacious daring, sheer luck, and plot immunity from pulp authors reluctant to kill a favourite character saved countless heroes from seemingly sure death in the pulps.

It's harder for GMs to have their players' PCs continually stare death in the eye and still have these heroes regularly surviving deadly pulp RPG adventures, but it can be done. Introduce cinematic rules in your RPG system of preference, reducing most wounds to simple unconsciousness, and minor injuries to blackouts, dazing and temporary incapacitation. Instead of lethal injuries, arrange situations for the mortally wounded PC's body to disappear, and later reintroduce the character to the storyline with a some lesser but longer lasting injury and an explanation of some sort for their disappearance. Have your players let their PCs make copious use of the RPG rules on luck and luck talents, allow them to push their strength and will-power to beyond the brink, and let them use extra experience die rolls and "brownie points" to save their PCs from certain death. Note that this pulp adventure ingredient is one of reduced PC deaths, not outright immunity from death. If players have their PCs repeatedly perform reckless and thoughtless actions, let the dice fall as they may, and occasionally let such PCs die. On the other hand, never let a string of bad die rolls alone spell the demise of an otherwise well played pulp PC hero.

Other tricks to reduce the lethal effects of gun combat can be gadgets invented and used by the PC pulp heroes. Allow bulletproof armour for those heroes who frequently face lead-happy enemies. Allow PC gadgeteers to invent strange electrical devices that render gunpowder inert within its area of effect, or produce personal force-fields that will only allow slow-moving weapons such as swinging swords or hurled fists to penetrate. You can also have the pulp version of the magic healing that is common to fantasy games, weird science devices such as "Blood Pills", "Bone Glue" and "Flesh Wrap" that can be invented by gadgeteers to quickly patch up damaged or mangled PC heroes.

Emphasize to your players the pulp convention that both crooks and heroes will more often surrender in the face of overwhelming odds than fight on to the last anaemic drop of blood. To help promote this behaviour, do not punish PCs who honour this classic pulp tradition of surrendering to the enemy; instead, have them taken to the villain's secret HQ, and once there, give them a chance to escape and turn the tables on their former captors. Have your NPC villains make use of knockout gas, heavy saps, and narcotic bullets to bring down our heroes, and not the more ubiquitous and deadly lead variety. Let fisticuffs and brawling be the preferred means of combat by the agents of the villain and the heroes, by allowing handguns to be quickly knocked to the ground at the start of fighting when they are first pulled out by trigger-happy combatants. Providing situations where everyone knows that firing a gun is foolhardy, perhaps aboard a hydrogen-filled dirigible or inside a dynamite factory, is yet another trick to reduce the scale of lethality of your pulp RPG combats.


"Note that this pulp adventure ingredient is one of reduced PC deaths, not outright immunity from death" seems like good advice to me.

VisionStorm

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Re: Some Tropes SHOULD be subverted
« Reply #134 on: April 30, 2021, 08:44:37 AM »
Fate/Luck/etc points... I still fecking hate metacurrency. But given the genre it might be an unavoidable evil.

Random thought, but I wonder if Fate/Luck/etc. can be changed to a type of attribute or special stat (maybe called Determination or Daring) that needs to be rolled in order to get a "luck" related benefit. Maybe limit it to once per encounter (or until circumstances change) to avoid abuse, with cumulative penalties per time used per session. That way you can get something similar to a metacurrency without actually using a metacurrency.

Or is your deep-seated hatred of metacurrency rooted on something else?

Lets see how you like this:

CharGen Feats, meaning they can only be taken AT chargen:

Pick two?

Lucky, You can re roll once per session but must keep the result of that roll.

Gifted: Raise ONE attribute by 2, no attribute can be higher than 18.

Looker: You're very atractive, get +1 in any rolls to influence, seduce, etc.

Though as Nails: Get +1 in any SW

Second Wind: When you're at 0 HP you're not unconscious, keep fighting until the end of the round.

Inspiration: Get +1 in rolls of deduction, invention, investigation...

Those sound good in concept, but I wonder how good they are mechanically. Glancing over at the bonuses, knowing that everyone gets two picks, it seems to me that EVERYONE would pick the +2 to one attribute, then the next pick would be a toss up cuz their benefits all seem kinda low mechanically. Granted, this depends on how rolls actually work and what the standards are in the system, but a +1 bonus to a skill check in most d20 style games is almost negligible, specially when it applies only to a narrow range of skills. Meanwhile a +2 to one attribute gives you +1 to ALL skills based on it, at least assuming a +1 per 2 points above 10, as is the case in 3e+ d20 System mechanics. Not sure if you're going 0e bonus ranges (9-12 +0, 13-15 +1, 16-17 +2, 18 +3), but even then a +2 attribute bonus is preferable to anything else you posted here.

I'm also not sure if having a single re-roll in an entire session for Lucky is that much of a benefit. A slight increase might make it more attractive, maybe 1 +Cha modifier (though, no one will take it unless high Cha, then), or 3/session, 1/encounter max, perhaps even higher. Second Wind also seems kinda limited and situational, since you'd have to 1) lose initiative, and then 2) get attacked and reduced to 0 HP before your turn comes up for the benefit to even come into effect. Then you have exactly one action before you fall unconscious anyway.

I'm also not sure about the name, since Second Wind implies you get an extra burst of energy and in most games I've seen include something called "Second Wind" it usually works like HP or stamina recovery.