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Messages - S'mon

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That's what dice are for.
I like sandbox games where PCs can pick their battles, so they can influence the chance of success both by their tactics, and by what they chose to take on.

Can a PC choose to train an NPC, and cause the NPC to gain levels in character classes?

In other words, can you train your own help?

I'd allow it at my table.  How would you handle it?

Yes, happened in my game just yesterday, using the 5e DMG training rules. A PC Barbarian-4 trained an NPC Barbarian-2 up to 3rd level. I ruled she made half the DMG training cost in profit - 10gp!

As a GM I want to limit the use of previous obstacles as solutions.

Why's that? Is it that you don't want to make it easy for the PCs?

Thanks for the question. My goal is to neither make things hard nor easy for a PC. My goal is for game elements to be fun and compelling. I find action moving forward more compelling than action moving backwards.

The statement you quoted was a supporting statement to the existence of a present obstacle (locked door). If I put a locked door in front of the PCs, it is an opportunity for something interesting to happen. If we are just going to pretend the solution to that locked door was already to be found on something already conquered, why put it there in the first place?

Real story from this weekend involving a locked door... One of the PCs asked me, “Does the door open into the next room or would it open towards me?” I told him it opened towards him. He then wanted to know if it had two or three hinges. At that point I already knew where he was going with it. I told him there were two, he made a shitty face and said, “I want to pop the door off the hinges.”

Now don’t get me wrong, after thousands of locked doors over the years, they are hardly compelling. I have been foiled by which way the door opens a hundred times. Because the PC stayed in the moment he was able to make fun of my shitty door, see that look in my eyes when I knew that he had gotten me, and that made it fun. I did not have to place a key that never existed on a body, and he did not have to evoke his Aspect of Opening Locked Things.

Looking back at your posts, I don’t believe we are entirely disagreeing. I think you want to make sure I am not advocating being a dick for the sake of being a dick, or intentionally finding fun in making things hard for people. I can assure you that type of GMg is not fun. Am I off here or missing something? If so, hit me right between the eyes with it, I am having a Monday of Mondays hah.

I don't think I was trying to 'get' you! :)

I guess in my GMing a locked door 99.5% of the time is a simulation element - yes, prison doors would logically be locked & yes - likely the key would be nearby. I sometimes GM published adventures where a door is set up as an obstacle to the players, but I don't think I do that much in my own stuff. I occasionally worry there aren't enough traps in my homebrew D&D games, since I normally only put traps in a dungeon when & if I think someone would have put them there. My players don't generally seem to realise this though, and will freak out at the sight of two facing serpent statues in the tunnel that I only put in for dressing...

As a GM I want to limit the use of previous obstacles as solutions.

Why's that? Is it that you don't want to make it easy for the PCs?

Narratively wishing a key on a guard previously encountered to get past a locked door, an example from the video, is lazy and not interesting.

"I search the guard for a key" is fine though, surely - not establishing facts about the world. Most players either say that or "Does the guard have a key?" to which GM should say "You see one" or "You don't see one - are you searching him?"

'Wud if the demons were good and angels were bad' just generally means about the same impact, but more boring because instead of drawing upon so many years of stories for cool demons, you generally just rely on the novelty. And once repeated enough, it just becomes a whole bunch of blandness infatuated with its own fake novelty.

Reminds me of His Dark Materials.

A guy on EN World made the distinction that there is a line between "stuff PC should know" and "stuff PC wouldn't know". So eg a PC talking about his family and home village would be on the PC side of the line and would be legitimate for the player to add in play - the GM could negate it by saying later "You thought that, but actually..." I remember one PC Hakeem, it turned out his dad probably wasn't who he thought it was, rather another guy who was now an evil warlord.

Does anyone object to a player adding that sort of stuff? I do think it can be taken too far (for a traditional game); one (otherwise v good) player came up with a lot of convoluted family stuff with relationships (ok) but also with plots that didn't interest me to play through and didn't relate to the other PCs. I rem saying "OK, that stuff gets sorted out". :) If she had just made NPCs that would have been fine.

So, from all that I can safely say you haven't read anything but the title/opening post and jumped to accusations of trying to destroy culture.

Nice, twice in a thread two different people making aspersions about me without reading jack shit. But then I'm the asshole no?

He wasn't talking about you - talk about 'without reading jack shit'  :P

To be fair, not all civilizations are worth preserving. Rebels fighting an authoritarian regime is technically “anti-civilization” in the sense of pulling down the established order, but that order was corrupt and needs to fall for the good of the people it exploits for the gains of its leaders.

Well a more common trope is the Star Wars one of the Lawful Rebels fighting to restore the old established Lawful order that has been destroyed by a Chaotic insurgency (eg the Sith).

Outside of 2000 AD stories written by actual Chaos Magician Pat Mills, I don't recall too many actually-Chaotic rebel protagonists trying to destroy a more Lawful established order. Even Moorcock's more Chaotic champions are normally fighting against even-worse-Chaos. I guess maybe some Tarantino stuff? Usually in the Noble Savage stuff like Avatar they're not trying to destroy Civilisation, just send it back where it came from.

at 20:44 - what do you think of players establishing facts about the world impromptu during play? Players, do you feel happy & confident doing this? GMs, do you enjoy this or dislike it?

As a GM I love it when players do it well, and dread it when players do it badly. So as a player I do it a bit more than most, but feel very wary of stepping on GM's toes.

I definitely agree with John Kim that not all tropes are pro-Civilisation or Lawful, there are plenty of anti-Civilisation or Chaotic tropes, such as the Rousseau-derived Noble Savage of Dances With Wolves, Avatar, and a ton of other fiction - I think The Last Samurai falls in there too. I don't think Pulp PCs being im/mortal is either Lawful or Chaotic; but again I agree that functional immortality combined with notional 'death threats' feels more escapist.

I definitely think you can do Pulp and have protagonists who appear to die actually stay dead. Eg Captain America: The First Avenger had a very pulp tone. It would not have ceased to be Pulp-tone if Bucky & Steve stayed dead beyond the end of the film*. Conversely though, I think if it featured frequent random protagonist death throughout the film, the genre would have shifted more towards either War Story or towards Alan Moore style 'Subvert All the Tropes!'-ism, which at this point is a sub genre unto itself.

So, again: you don't need to remove all risk of PC death for it to feel Pulp. You don't want frequent random PC death, or it won't feel like Pulp.

*I think with meaningful perma-death would have still felt like Pulp, but with a more mythic/literary epic overtone.

Hilariously enough alot of the "meta plot" settings that so many here detest are just a type of world in motion attempt.

So apparently world in motion stifles the player...

A Metaplot by definition can't be affected by the PCs and the players will be Railroaded if they try to affect it. So yes it stifles the players.

I'd actually forgotten about Metaplot. But yes it makes the nothing-happens-till-you-go-there approach look positively benign in comparison.

Living World design definitely allows for PCs to affect the world, without artifical constraints (Metaplot) and it benefits from minimal pre-scripting. While I do roll up some events in advance, I'm always ready to discard them if they are negated by player actions before they arise.

  We must have been playing a completely different 1st edition version of D&D then.  Because there is no way any fighter can compete with fireball and mobs of goons getting hit with it on the DPS meter.   But I think that was balanced with the squish of the wizard and the difference in XP to level.

I remember level 12 Fighters getting 12 attacks/round - every round... those poor villagers at Tanaroa. :(

The Pulp Avengers And it is correct that the Pulp heroes didn't die, and many times neither did the villains.

What it says there:


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.

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.

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