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Talakeal
2009-11-23, 05:07 AM
I touched on this subject in a previous thread, but felt it deserved its own thread, and was reminded of the subject today while playing Dragon Age

<spoiler>
Origins. Without giving to much of the games plot away,
within the first hour of the game I found my character forced into abandoning my family and their land to enemies, conscripted into a cult of demon hunters, and forced to watch as their tests kill my fellow initiates, and watch as they brutally execute any who wish to leave their order. Although my character had numerous chances to escape or fight back, the game never gives you an option.
<spoiler>

This made my character look like a wretched coward in my eyes, and made me lose all respect for her. As a result I quickly lost interest in the game (I find the combat engine terrible and was only playing for the storyline) and uninstalled. However, I have had the same problem in many table top games where walking away isn't so easy, and so I wanted to know if anyone had any advice.

Frequently I run into situations where:
Another PC wants to do some disgustingly evil in front of my character, they are too stubborn to listen to reason, and the entire group will turn against me if I physically intervene.
An NPC hires the party to do a morally questionable (at best) quest, and if I refuse I have to sit out for the game because "that is the adventure".
A BBEG does something evil in front of me, and I am not allowed to try and stop him because he is much higher level and attempting will only get the whole party killed and I will be blamed for ruining the game.

If I do something in any of these situations, I have ruined everyone else's fun. If I do nothing, I simply lose all respect for my character. My character is supposed to be a fantastic hero! Yet I have to play her with a level of courage and morality that is below that which I feel I posses in my everyday life.

Does anyone have any advice as to how can I keep playing a character who I no longer have any respect for, or how I can keep my dignity and morality intact without ruining everyone else's good time?

kamikasei
2009-11-23, 05:14 AM
This sounds like an incompatibility between you and your group. They are happy to take actions that you are not. If "playing with that group" means "taking those actions" and they're not willing to change that, your choice is between sucking it up and going with the group or leaving and hoping you can find other players more compatible with your tastes.

Of course, the best case scenario is that you raise these concerns with them and the DM agrees not to railroad you in to objectionable actions while the other players agree not to take in-character actions that would necessarily provoke a strongly negative reaction from your character. But from what you've said, you've already done so, and their response was not positive. So I'd say you and they simply want different things from your gaming and you're better off pursuing them separately than stepping on one another's toes.

edit: That said,

A BBEG does something evil in front of me, and I am not allowed to try and stop him because he is much higher level and attempting will only get the whole party killed and I will be blamed for ruining the game.

You have a responsibility not to descend in to Stupid Good too; if your character knows that trying to attack the villain would be suicidal, he might still try, but you should be willing to let him be restrained by the rest of the party or whatever.

(However, this too smacks of railroading. What, you're in a position where the BBEG is doing something evil and you're totally free to act... and you're expected to just sit there? You're right, that's not very heroic. A BBEG worth his demerit badges a) paralyzes everyone first or b) smacks down attempted heroics with contempt but lets the fool live because killing him is beneath him.

More generally, the DM needs to take the likely reactions of the party in to account when planning encounters and 'set pieces', and if he has to tell you not to have your character do what it's well established would be his inclination in order to get the scene to go 'right', that's a failing on his part.)

Ceaon
2009-11-23, 05:14 AM
Make a character that knows exactly when to fight. An almost-seer, who knows when the time will come he will be able to stand up against the BBEG. Until that time, however, he learns as much as he can about the BBEG, trains as hard as he can, and tries to do as much good as he can without directly provoking the BBEG into a fight that will get you killed. Not fighting someone way stronger than you or not interfering with something you have no way of stopping isn't cowardly. And the other way around, trying to pick a fight with an Upper Demon isn't necessarily courageous, it can also be just supid.

In short: courage =/= opposing everytime you see something you disagree with.

Shademan
2009-11-23, 05:38 AM
your character is a good hero trapped amongst evil cowards. simple as that.
Have her escape and roll up Rat Mc Pukington the uncomfortable.

Grifthin
2009-11-23, 05:58 AM
Spoiler.

You do know that charging a entire enemy army by yourself is pretty much suicide, and the parents that heroically died so that you can survive would pretty much be pissed at you for it. As for getting initiated into a order of demon hunters then watching them kill your fellow initiates. There's very good reason for it. If people found out how they could fight the demons they would probably wipe them out. Thus killing potential loose ends is the most practical solution as they fight demons at any cost. Besides, you where only saved because the condition of your salvation was that you join them. So sucks to be you. Otherwise you could charge the enemy army on your own then look at your game over screen,load, then select the rational response like a smart boy. I mean really people.

End Spoiler.

As for your original post - smacks of railroading to me. I've played a LG character and it sucks when your entire party is a bunch of shady bastards. HOWEVER there was one time where my character watched as a entire vilalge got slaughtered. My character hid cause he knew he couldn't do anything. The guilt became his driving force. Que 20 levels of paladin later coming for justice to be meted out.

Raltar
2009-11-23, 06:13 AM
Spoiler

Also, Jory drew his weapon first and even attacked first. It wasn't a particularly good swing or anything and Duncan easily blocked it, but those two things make anything Duncan did after justified. I mean, he could have just been walking towards him to force him to drink and only drew his own blade because he had one drawn on him.

Talakeal
2009-11-23, 06:16 AM
Maybe what they do is justified in an ends justify the means sort of way, but that information was never imparted in character. Nor did I ever agree to any bargain, the guy simply says "you are conscripted I will not accept no for an answer" and takes you by force.

However, I think I would have a much higher opinion of the game over all if you had the option to fight, even if doing so was certain death. Better to live a hero than die a slave imo.

I think the gladiator game Coliseum has one of the best ideas in video games as there is the option to not cooperate and to simply attack the guards and take your freedom by force. It is certain death unless you have insane skills, and even if you pull it off the game ends right there, but the game actually acknowledges your choices and gives you an ending.


and I response to Raltar, I am pretty sure Duncan has his sword drawn when he approached Jory. But even so, is being forced to drink poison not cause to defend yourself? Just imagine in real life if you were captured by an armed man, told to play Russian roulette with him and then if you survive you are to be his slave under penalty of death. I think lethal force would have been justified, and I would like to think that if I saw someone else in this situation I would certainly defend him rather than watch him be gutted and then drink the kool-aid like a good girl.

Roderick_BR
2009-11-23, 06:32 AM
What kamikasei said. It sounds like your party is "hey, I got a new spell, I'll test it on te first commoner that walks by", while you want a more heroic kind of campaign. You'll have to talk with your group and DM if they are willing to make this kind of game, or find another group. Sad but true.
Railroad is bad in any case as well.

As for the example of seeing a BBeG doing something evil and be unable to do anything is a very common plot point, where the villain shows he's evil and no one can stand up to him. Later when the group gains enough power, they should be able to make the villain pay, or at least ruin his plans for a good meaning time.

Mercenary Pen
2009-11-23, 06:37 AM
From what I can tell (and please correct me if I'm wrong), you want to play a character type that sits somewhere between the Lawful nature of a Paladin and the outright Rage of the barbarian type in feel.

Now, whilst that makes for a great character in actual roleplay, it's fairly tricky (as far as I know) to back that up with mechanics, considering that the Paladin and Barbarian classes do not go together functionally.

My advice is as follows, talk to your DM about the following:
1- Fewer massive monologues and evil acts you're not supposed to stop- or at least having the BBEG throw a few shots of Hold Person- or some other barrier spell- around to give you a reason why your character couldn't intervene.

2- Breaking down the massive cinematic set pieces with the evil acts you can't stop- don't just do the whole thing as something that can't be interrupted, but flash back over to the players mid monologue, give them a chance for the PC's to react to this (this allows you in particular to portray your character as a seething pillar of repressed rage- or whatever- merely waiting for a chance to strike)

You may also wish to challenge the rest of your group to play an all lawful party at some stage, see if you can adjust their approach to the game.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-23, 06:43 AM
Frequently I run into situations where: ...
A BBEG does something evil in front of me, and I am not allowed to try and stop him because he is much higher level and attempting will only get the whole party killed and I will be blamed for ruining the game.


This particular issue's been brought up in OOTS. When the entirety of Azure City falls, the leader, Hinjo, wants to stay and fight. He's eventually dissuaded by everyone there, when told that battles that get you killed for nothing more than personal pride and honor reduce the amount of good you can do, the amount of wrongs you can right, to zero.

This one's reasonable. It's not being a coward. It's being wise enough to realize that throwing away your life and the lives of your allies without a chance of actually correcting the wrong you're opposing doesn't serve the cause of good at all. Rather, it lets everyone that you may help in the future down.

That's not to say you can't start such a fight. Provided your character can't TELL that the fight is a fool's battle, then it's ok to do. But nobody should use bravery as an excuse to commit suicide by BBEG. It's not bravery. It's Lawful Stupid.

kamikasei
2009-11-23, 06:44 AM
From what I can tell (and please correct me if I'm wrong), you want to play a character type that sits somewhere between the Lawful nature of a Paladin and the outright Rage of the barbarian type in feel.

I don't see anything to suggest the OP's character is necessarily Lawful. She just doesn't want a) her allies to do evil stuff right in front of her, b) the party to take jobs from shady characters who are likely using them for some evil end, and c) to stand up to villains in the midst of their villainy. That's not Lawful, it's just Good.

edit: I think the BBEG thing deserves a closer look. Could you describe in more detail what happened?

I'm mostly curious as to how "trying to stop him would only get the whole party killed". I mean, if the villain is the leader of a horde of orcs who are currently razing your hometown, and he's obviously very powerful and has a bunch of minions and you guys are level 1, then yeah, drawing attention to yourselves at all is suicidal. There are similar scenarios where the party can say "Bob, I know it's hard, but we can't afford to get caught/killed here. We have to go on to complete Mission Whatever, to save all the Dudes". But most situations I can think of can accomodate one party member stepping up and getting smacked down without the BBEG killing him or the rest of the party. Indeed, having one character attempt and fail to stop the villain is a standard way to establish his villainous chops, if this is the sort of early-game look-how-bad-this-guy-is scene it sounds like.

Saph
2009-11-23, 07:27 AM
A BBEG does something evil in front of me, and I am not allowed to try and stop him because he is much higher level and attempting will only get the whole party killed and I will be blamed for ruining the game.

This sort of thing is exactly why I try to avoid the "I Am The BBEG! Look At How Evil I Am!" scene. It's a popular one among DMs who want to establish their BBEG, but it depends on the PCs not doing anything. And that's just generally a bad idea, given that the standard response of a PC to a bad guy is "I kill it and take its stuff."

But yes, I know the feeling. Really, this is a social problem, not a game one. If you like to play Good-aligned characters, while the rest of the group think it's great fun to play Stabbity McPsycho, then there are going to be issues.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-23, 07:37 AM
This sort of thing is exactly why I try to avoid the "I Am The BBEG! Look At How Evil I Am!" scene. It's a popular one among DMs who want to establish their BBEG, but it depends on the PCs not doing anything. And that's just generally a bad idea, given that the standard response of a PC to a bad guy is "I kill it and take its stuff."

But yes, I know the feeling. Really, this is a social problem, not a game one. If you like to play Good-aligned characters, while the rest of the group think it's great fun to play Stabbity McPsycho, then there are going to be issues.

The BBEG need not be accessible. A party of level 5's sees something swoop down into the town several miles out. They move as fast as they can, only to see the dragon taking off out of the wrecked town as they approach, roaring that next month, the tribute better all be there, and it better be sent early.

Alternates include casters with good contingencies, and the like. A BBEG can demonstrate his badness (though this is typically a good thing for a lieutenant to do, rather than a BBEG) without making it easy to get in this situation.

I prefer this for Lieutenants over BBEG's simply because the BBEG shouldn't be apparent early. You should see evidence of him in Lieutenants. Often, early, the lieutenants are too powerful for you. Look at Golbez, for those who are Final Fantasy buffs.

Saph
2009-11-23, 07:44 AM
I still think it's conceptually a bad idea. The whole point of RPGs, IMO, is for the players to get to do things. If you script a scene based on the players doing nothing, well, your storytelling skills had better be freaking amazing.

Once you get to the point where you're coming up with detailed mechanical and plot-related justifications for why the PCs have to stand around and watch (he has a dragon, and contingencies, and he won't actually just kill them because . . .) then I usually find that's a sign that you should scrap the idea and start over.

minchazo
2009-11-23, 08:03 AM
I've played one game where the DM constantly tried to drive wedges between our characters. At one point, my character (a cleric of Olidamarra) had to attack our party warlock, 'cause he'd happily watched a group of ogres slaughter a defenseless party of paladins.

In that case, I blinded him (I thought it was poetic justice) and he quickly got it removed by an NPC without telling my character. We still continued to happily adventure together, since my cleric felt that punishment had been meted and the warlock still got to feel superior to all the "little people."

In another game (undead heavy), I was playing a rogue while another player was a monk with Vow of Peace. We'd captured an enemy commander, which I CDG'd while everyone was arguing about what to do with him. In that game, my character or the monk's had to leave, since we couldn't trust each other. I came back as a cleric :)

In both these cases, we both had fun and stayed true to our characters. I would make sure to give plenty of warning how my character would react. If the party does something you find reprehensible, warn them out-of-game that your character will be "playing along" and looking for ways for Karma to pay them back. Offer suggestions on how they can either trick your character into helping along or on any simple changes to the flavor-text of the quest to fit with your character.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-23, 08:06 AM
I still think it's conceptually a bad idea. The whole point of RPGs, IMO, is for the players to get to do things. If you script a scene based on the players doing nothing, well, your storytelling skills had better be freaking amazing.

Once you get to the point where you're coming up with detailed mechanical and plot-related justifications for why the PCs have to stand around and watch (he has a dragon, and contingencies, and he won't actually just kill them because . . .) then I usually find that's a sign that you should scrap the idea and start over.

Not at all. If the PC's approach a town just outside of the reach of the dragon's departure, it doesn't deny them the ability to do anything. It denies them the easy ability to do one specific thing. Sure, if a player uses a Fly spell, and starts throwing lightning bolts at the dragon, they'll get its attention. And there are consequences for that. It's just not an easy thing.

If a player goes after the high level caster, and he's accomplished his goal, there's nothing to stop him from simply teleporting away, even if a single hit is landed, after the contingency.

I don't come up with intricate ways to get a party to watch while I tell them what happens. I do, however, tell them what happens between each of their actions. It's kinda one of those things any DM should be doing.

Acanous
2009-11-23, 08:22 AM
1: Re-DL Dragon Age.
2: Play a Dalish Elf.
Now you can have all the backstory good/evil choices you want. You're still going to get railroaded into drinking the blood, but now
It's the only cure for the fatal poison you came in contact with earlier.

So you can be all angry at duncan and just play along to get what he promised you earlier.

The rest of the game is amazingly well done with complex moral choices and amazingly well done social/RP stuff.

Oh, and it's funny as heck if you Betray Alister for the BBEG who betrayed the king and killed off your order. Alister dies, he becomes king, you bang his hot daughter. Woo woo.

Of course, I diddn't do that on my FIRST playthrough. The fact that you can do it, though....

Saph
2009-11-23, 08:35 AM
Not at all. If the PC's approach a town just outside of the reach of the dragon's departure, it doesn't deny them the ability to do anything. It denies them the easy ability to do one specific thing. Sure, if a player uses a Fly spell, and starts throwing lightning bolts at the dragon, they'll get its attention. And there are consequences for that. It's just not an easy thing.

If a player goes after the high level caster, and he's accomplished his goal, there's nothing to stop him from simply teleporting away, even if a single hit is landed, after the contingency.

But what's the point of staging it so carefully in the first place if the only goal is for the players to watch? I'd rather spend my energy on designing things the PCs can actually interact with.

If the choices are:

1) get involved, die
2) do nothing, survive

then I'd find that fairly unsatisfying as a PC, so I try to avoid doing it as a DM.

Acanous
2009-11-23, 08:54 AM
Make your Villain Sadistic Evil. Allow the PC's to get involved, maybe evin save that sacrificial Virgin. Now the BBEG wasn't actually sacrificing her for power, he was doing it for the lulz. Tossing down some Curses on the random adventurers who saved her will surely atone for the interruption of his entertainment.

Fun curses to use:

-Change race- something monsterous and KoS in human towns.
-Change gender- pretty streightforward, if a little overdone recently.
-One item becomes a Cursed, sentient item. Oh yes.
-Someone related to the cursed person just died. Of head explosion. The blood painted the walls with "That's what you get for freeing my sacrifice, sucker! They'll propably want to get back at the BBEG in a hardcore way when they find out. For now, the BBEG is just kinda giggling as he flies away, apperently no threat to anyone.
-Heads and bodies of cursed people switch. Adjust physical stats accoardingly.
-Cursee's vocabulary is limited to insults and curse words. Alternatively, limited to the word for thier race in common. (Ork! Ork ork ork!)
-Cursee is inescapeably attracted to the next thing they see that they can breed with and produce offspring. (A Half-Ooze? How'd THAT happen?....oh.....ew...) If offspring ARE produced in this manner, the first of which is Half-Fiend, as per Curse the Seed
-Physical and Mental stats swapped. Cha becomes Str, Wis becomes Dex, Int becomes Con.

Tons of fun stuff you can do there. All of it malicious. It adds some depth to the campeign, shows the PCs that they CAN do things during your exposee', but that it isn't the best idea. Unless they like having the wings of a duck permanently sprouting from thier arse.

Ashiel
2009-11-23, 09:17 AM
Make your Villain Sadistic Evil. Allow the PC's to get involved, maybe evin save that sacrificial Virgin. Now the BBEG wasn't actually sacrificing her for power, he was doing it for the lulz. Tossing down some Curses on the random adventurers who saved her will surely atone for the interruption of his entertainment.

Fun curses to use:

-Change race- something monsterous and KoS in human towns.
-Change gender- pretty streightforward, if a little overdone recently.
-One item becomes a Cursed, sentient item. Oh yes.
-Someone related to the cursed person just died. Of head explosion. The blood painted the walls with "That's what you get for freeing my sacrifice, sucker! They'll propably want to get back at the BBEG in a hardcore way when they find out. For now, the BBEG is just kinda giggling as he flies away, apperently no threat to anyone.
-Heads and bodies of cursed people switch. Adjust physical stats accoardingly.
-Cursee's vocabulary is limited to insults and curse words. Alternatively, limited to the word for thier race in common. (Ork! Ork ork ork!)
-Cursee is inescapeably attracted to the next thing they see that they can breed with and produce offspring. (A Half-Ooze? How'd THAT happen?....oh.....ew...) If offspring ARE produced in this manner, the first of which is Half-Fiend, as per Curse the Seed
-Physical and Mental stats swapped. Cha becomes Str, Wis becomes Dex, Int becomes Con.

Tons of fun stuff you can do there. All of it malicious. It adds some depth to the campeign, shows the PCs that they CAN do things during your exposee', but that it isn't the best idea. Unless they like having the wings of a duck permanently sprouting from thier arse.

So basically punish them with overwhelmingly horrible amounts of arbitrary DM fiat if they do actually do something in character to attempt to be the hero or contribute in some meaningful way; then pretend to be a nice guy 'cause you let them do something in the first place? I couldn't even respect myself for doing something like that.

The sex-change thing I could see being humorous and not affect anything in a meaningful way for very long, but everything else on that list is far beyond what curses can/should be able to do (not to mention most of them strike me as a ***** move as a DM), and wouldn't consider it a bad curse (since it has no mechanically influencing effect) for the bestow curse spell.

However...

Someone related to the cursed person just died. Of head explosion. The blood painted the walls with "That's what you get for freeing my sacrifice, sucker! They'll propably want to get back at the BBEG in a hardcore way when they find out. For now, the BBEG is just kinda giggling as he flies away, apperently no threat to anyone.
Would be my cue to find another game.

Foryn Gilnith
2009-11-23, 09:40 AM
The curses can be removed by a third-level spell. EDIT: Actually reading some of those, they are pretty damn powerful. Would expect those to be at least 7th-level spells, comparing to Greater Bestow Curse, and possibly up to 9th-level or epic. And if your party is facing things like those, they're likely powerful enough to retaliate with simulacrum cheese.

And that last point you quoted is entirely reasonable if you go up against a mage. The mage is evil, vindictive, and has nothing better to do. Cast a few divinations, scry somebody your enemy loves, and go to town. It's part of why adventurers tend to be loners - high level D&D is rocket tag, and NPCs can't dodge.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-23, 09:41 AM
But what's the point of staging it so carefully in the first place if the only goal is for the players to watch? I'd rather spend my energy on designing things the PCs can actually interact with.

If the choices are:

1) get involved, die
2) do nothing, survive

then I'd find that fairly unsatisfying as a PC, so I try to avoid doing it as a DM.

Odd, I see many more choices. The fight isn't always about winning. Sometimes it's about limiting losses.

For example: The party could chase the dragon down, track it to its lair, and engage it.

The party could begin a rescue effort to save townspeople.

The party could loot the town.

The party could query the town leaders about the tribute, and lay a trap.

The party could do any number of things that is not "NOTHING", and do well. You take someone, put them in the middle of the track at the Indy 500, and tell them to stop a car. If they jump in front of a vehicle moving at 110 mph, they die. If they use their resources, and say, drop obstacles in the road, they'll have a better chance.

In the dragon example above, the dragon could have come 10 miles before the party saw the town. Did the party have no choice? No.

But I personally reward smart playing, and punish blatantly stupid actions. My encounters are status quo. Why? Because Wyverns don't wait until you're level 6, +/- 2 ECL, before they magically poof into a world. They're there. The party can choose to engage head on a wyvern that swoops down and ravages a farmer's cow when they're returning victorious from clearing out a small band of goblins at level 1.

They'll likely die, but they can choose that. They can also distract it, lead it away from the farm, and use something like a mount spell to give it something to swoop down and ravage while they escape.

In other words, overcoming a CR isn't always done by taking the pointy end, and inserting it into a foe. Sometimes it's done by protecting others. Sometimes its done by distracting, delaying, or harrying a superior foe long enough for something else to happen. Sometimes, it's just holding out for reinforcements.

But doing that? Makes players feel like they're part of something bigger than they are, and it adds to the realism to the world. Lions aren't a creature that despawns from the world when the party hits level 7.

Acanous
2009-11-23, 09:42 AM
The vast majority of these effects could be fixed with a single "Remove Curse". By the time any party I'm running encounters the head honcho, they either have access to this spell NOW, tomorrow, or enough gold to get it cast on the party when they get back to town.

The head exploding bit was actually just that particular villain's twist on an already existing spell that does the same thing. (deals damage to loved one)
So while it IS the hardest to reverse thing on the list, it's also core.

We're trying for a party-interruptable "This is a bad, bad man" moment without it leading to DM arbitrary TPK if I recall correctly.

Foryn Gilnith
2009-11-23, 09:45 AM
The head exploding bit was actually just that particular villain's twist on an already existing spell that does the same thing. (deals damage to loved one)
So while it IS the hardest to reverse thing on the list, it's also core.

Whether or not it's Core (it's not, BTW: Love's Agony is from a 3.0 splatbook) is irrelevant. If it's justified just because it's Core, I would probably (in-character) go into hardcore Tippyverse mode to get back at the powerful mage. If BoVD is fair game, I might as well get a scroll of Lesser Planar Binding to get a Mirror Mephit and start making Simulacrums of things like Efreets for infinite wish loops.

dsmiles
2009-11-23, 09:54 AM
I say, "Play your character." Don't play to the party's immorality if your character has issues with this. Go for the TPK, if you have to. It's your character, not theirs.

Acanous
2009-11-23, 09:54 AM
You see? That's what such a display would be trying to bring about. The players get very angry, maybe make some moral concessions, and do everything they can to get at the big bad.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-23, 10:05 AM
Whether or not it's Core (it's not, BTW: Love's Agony is from a 3.0 splatbook) is irrelevant. If it's justified just because it's Core, I would probably (in-character) go into hardcore Tippyverse mode to get back at the powerful mage. If BoVD is fair game, I might as well get a scroll of Lesser Planar Binding to get a Mirror Mephit and start making Simulacrums of things like Efreets for infinite wish loops.

Players always lose the arms race. Always.

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?" - Joshua

Players shouldn't try to bend the rules to get revenge. The DM can outright break them. And then, the group breaks down. The only winning move is to not play the arms race.

Mark Hall
2009-11-23, 10:10 AM
Another PC wants to do some disgustingly evil in front of my character, they are too stubborn to listen to reason, and the entire group will turn against me if I physically intervene.

...

If I do something in any of these situations, I have ruined everyone else's fun. If I do nothing, I simply lose all respect for my character. My character is supposed to be a fantastic hero! Yet I have to play her with a level of courage and morality that is below that which I feel I posses in my everyday life.

Does anyone have any advice as to how can I keep playing a character who I no longer have any respect for, or how I can keep my dignity and morality intact without ruining everyone else's good time?

Actually had this problem in my Pathfinder game. One PC insisted on committing an act of unquestionable, horrific evil in front of me (being a drow). I objected, and threatened a fair amount of violence. I was overruled, because they said I was being unreasonable when faced with unquestionable evil. Even the paladin went along with them, proving she was nothing but a blackguard.

In most cases, if I want to keep playing with the group (I didn't, really, but I wanted to keep playing with the DM, and a couple of the other people... two people in the group, however, made me want to do serious bodily harm), I talk to the DM, drop the character, and come back with one that's a little bit more flexible. I went from a LG dwarven ranger/rogue to a TN human druid... more flexible notions of good and evil, and well suited to the rest of the group.

Telonius
2009-11-23, 10:11 AM
This particular issue's been brought up in OOTS. When the entirety of Azure City falls, the leader, Hinjo, wants to stay and fight. He's eventually dissuaded by everyone there, when told that battles that get you killed for nothing more than personal pride and honor reduce the amount of good you can do, the amount of wrongs you can right, to zero.

This one's reasonable. It's not being a coward. It's being wise enough to realize that throwing away your life and the lives of your allies without a chance of actually correcting the wrong you're opposing doesn't serve the cause of good at all. Rather, it lets everyone that you may help in the future down.

That's not to say you can't start such a fight. Provided your character can't TELL that the fight is a fool's battle, then it's ok to do. But nobody should use bravery as an excuse to commit suicide by BBEG. It's not bravery. It's Lawful Stupid.

This. Foolhardiness is as bad as cowardice. Neither are the same thing as courage. Playing a foolhardy character can be fun sometimes, but you as a player have to realize that not many DMs are going to allow a low-level adventurer to smack Baron McEvil and not have some consequences. (On the other hand, DMs should work with the characters their players want to play, and take foolhardy characters into account when designing encounters).

During the really low levels, your character is not a fantastic hero. He's some guy with a sword, or a pointy hat, who might someday become a big hero if he doesn't die stupidly. He's Bilbo before thirteen dwarves showed up for tea, or Luke before he left Tatooine. Remember how both of those characters nearly got killed in their first encounters? Bilbo needed a demigod to trick a bunch of trolls, and Luke needed a Jedi Master to slice a guy's arm off. Yes, a real hero will fight evil wherever he finds it. But he will also know his own limitations.

Asbestos
2009-11-23, 01:31 PM
Make your Villain Sadistic Evil. Allow the PC's to get involved, maybe evin save that sacrificial Virgin. Now the BBEG wasn't actually sacrificing her for power, he was doing it for the lulz. Tossing down some Curses on the random adventurers who saved her will surely atone for the interruption of his entertainment.

Fun curses to use
[questionable stuff]
I suggest picking things off the creepy stuff table from Heroes of Horror. Having all the mounts suddenly refuse to eat grass and only eat meat (even if they get new horses) or having every piece of food they bite into have a body part in it or having their reflections murdered by some unseen agent every time the PCs look into a mirror might be freaky enough to prove to the party that they're under some seriously bad voodoo without gimping them mechanically.

Gamerlord
2009-11-23, 01:53 PM
Sounds like your DM likes rail-roading and babysitting your PCs, if you want to commit suicide by attacking the villain, then fine! Let the villain curb stomp you. You should be able to fight fellow PCs that do something your character doesn't like.

Also, I haven't played DAO, but from what I know of it, its "DARK" fantasy, not "rainbows and unicorns" fantasy. Your character is supposed to be immoral!

Gpope
2009-11-23, 01:55 PM
It kind of sounds like you want a black-and-white heroic adventure while the rest of your group wants more morally gray world (actually it sounds like the rest of your group is a bunch of immature jerks, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.)

Adventurers are, by and large, not very nice people; typically the only difference between a knight in shining armor and a ruthless bandit is that the knight puts more polish on his armor. Most stories about heroes are, when you get down to them, about vicious killers who had good PR. D&D is designed as an escapist world where it's easy to gloss over the less pleasant aspects of being in a career that revolves around killing people, but some people prefer a grittier and more realistic game. Either find a way to dial back your rosy idealism, or find a group that more closely shares it.

Ormagoden
2009-11-23, 04:30 PM
Something that might be fun although cause some problems is to simply get killed. Play in role walk up to the guy get killed.

Then roll up bob your previous character rob's cousin/brother/roommate/loved one.

Then just get killed again at the next railroading BS encounter 3 times your level.

Rinse and repeat...

Look a bad guy! Charge! ARGH!!!!

The DM will eventually get the point and you'll have some fun playing the same character over and over.

Or you could do what I would suggest and find a group that wants to play heroic characters and play with them instead.

Vizzerdrix
2009-11-23, 05:36 PM
I say, "Play your character." Don't play to the party's immorality if your character has issues with this. Go for the TPK, if you have to. It's your character, not theirs.


This. +1.

Honestly, I'd taunt the party and call them cowards.

Mercenary Pen
2009-11-23, 06:14 PM
This. +1.

Honestly, I'd taunt the party and call them cowards.

Preferably do this with actual intimidate checks:smallbiggrin:

CockroachTeaParty
2009-11-23, 07:24 PM
I agree with Saph here 100%

That said, and usually considering I am the DM, I actually like to ultimately punish evil characters in my groups. I don't ever go too out of my way to cause them harm, but when the campaign comes to its conclusion, I usually give evil characters a less-than-good ending, reaping exactly the reward they deserve.

In my games, evil's rewards are usually short-term, or primarily financial in nature. Evil also earns characters a great deal of paranoia, distrust, and the disfavor of the Forces of Light. They may gain the 'favor' of the Ruinous Powers, but they never value a pitiful mortal the same way a good god would.

The less tangible rewards of my games are often denied evil characters as well: love, true friendship, recognition for their deeds, etc.

This is all rather subtle, though. I never lord it over my players; I just can't reward evil in my games. There's too much of it in real life; I can understand the fun and escapist desire to play an evil character, but I never punish players that want to play a good character.

Foryn Gilnith
2009-11-23, 07:52 PM
The less tangible rewards of my games are often denied evil characters as well: ...recognition for their deeds, etc.

Funny, recognition for deeds is exactly the sort of tangible thing a lot of my evil characters shoot for.

On this topic, you shouldn't have to suppress your character for the sake of the group, yes. But on the other hand, you don't necessarily have the right to derail the game for the sake of "good roleplaying". (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) My take on the examples in different cases:

Dragon Age: That's rough, man. Seems like they went a little overboard with the whole anti-hero theme and the railroading. Well, it's not as if I didn't already know modern CRPGs are mediocre.

Party Evil: I think you'd be justified beating up the guy, if you didn't kill the guy. When healing magic is available, a few bruises or even a bleeding wound are the equivalent of a hard smack IRL - reasonable if something violently wrong is occurring. If the party turns against you, they will likely similarly refrain from killing you. If they don't kill you, nothing major lost, just a bit of intraparty tension (and your opinion is very clearly expressed). If they do kill you, they're *****.

Quest Evil: Depending on how wrong the quest is, you could do well choosing a different way to react. Sure, it's distasteful, but you can set it up as a sting operation. Beat up the fellow's evil rivals (or, alternatively, be on-scene to make sure your "teammates" don't seriously hurt the good guys) until you're in a good position to strike.

BBEG Monologue: Just go for it. If the BBEG kills the whole party (as opposed to just you), it's the DM's fault, not yours.

HamHam
2009-11-23, 08:03 PM
If you are the odd one out in terms of what kind of game the group wants, you basically have a simple choice to either adjust your playstyle or find another group. Or both.

Feel free to try and take out as much of the party as possible on the way out though, playing an evil party should not be easy.

And then make someone who is even more of a **** than the existing characters.

Fiery Diamond
2009-11-23, 09:07 PM
I DM. I forbid people to play evil characters in my games. If their characters start doing stuff I consider evil, I tell them and suggest they cool it down or there will be consequences. Consequences are never fiat, but they do involve very bad things happening. If a player tries to perform a seriously evil act, I will say, "No." If they refuse to abide, I say, "Sorry, but I don't think we can game together. Please leave."

I'd try to find a new group if I were you. I can't stand people who play evil characters, unless they do it well. For example, I had a player whose character was "technically" CN, but was really mildly CE. He wasn't Stupid Evil or Chaotic Stupid - he was a self-centered, lying, vengeful, trickster, thieving rogue and assassin. The party had a lot of well-roleplayed intraparty conflict. He did a good job. But he never randomly killed people or anything like that. If he had, I would have kicked him out, but he did a good job, so I made an exception to my general rule.

ideasmith
2009-11-23, 10:06 PM
The dramatic way to leave a game due to railroading, is to take out your character sheet, cross out or erase your name, write 'NPC' in the player name location, and hand the sheet to the GM. This is more effective if performed in front of the other players.

Tengu_temp
2009-11-23, 10:20 PM
Adventurers are, by and large, not very nice people; typically the only difference between a knight in shining armor and a ruthless bandit is that the knight puts more polish on his armor. Most stories about heroes are, when you get down to them, about vicious killers who had good PR. D&D is designed as an escapist world where it's easy to gloss over the less pleasant aspects of being in a career that revolves around killing people, but some people prefer a grittier and more realistic game. Either find a way to dial back your rosy idealism, or find a group that more closely shares it.

Cynical is not the same as realistic. A game where everyone is a morally gray bastard is as disconnected from realism as one where everyone is clearly good or clearly evil. A realistic game should include characters from the whole spectrum - from saints to monsters, and everything in between. Saying that someone who prefers good characters and parties is a "rosy idealist" is a bit insulting.

taltamir
2009-11-23, 10:24 PM
I touched on this subject in a previous thread, but felt it deserved its own thread, and was reminded of the subject today while playing Dragon Age

<spoiler>
Origins. Without giving to much of the games plot away,
within the first hour of the game I found my character forced into abandoning my family and their land to enemies, conscripted into a cult of demon hunters, and forced to watch as their tests kill my fellow initiates, and watch as they brutally execute any who wish to leave their order. Although my character had numerous chances to escape or fight back, the game never gives you an option.
<spoiler>

This made my character look like a wretched coward in my eyes, and made me lose all respect for her. As a result I quickly lost interest in the game (I find the combat engine terrible and was only playing for the storyline) and uninstalled. However, I have had the same problem in many table top games where walking away isn't so easy, and so I wanted to know if anyone had any advice.

Frequently I run into situations where:
Another PC wants to do some disgustingly evil in front of my character, they are too stubborn to listen to reason, and the entire group will turn against me if I physically intervene.
An NPC hires the party to do a morally questionable (at best) quest, and if I refuse I have to sit out for the game because "that is the adventure".
A BBEG does something evil in front of me, and I am not allowed to try and stop him because he is much higher level and attempting will only get the whole party killed and I will be blamed for ruining the game.

If I do something in any of these situations, I have ruined everyone else's fun. If I do nothing, I simply lose all respect for my character. My character is supposed to be a fantastic hero! Yet I have to play her with a level of courage and morality that is below that which I feel I posses in my everyday life.

Does anyone have any advice as to how can I keep playing a character who I no longer have any respect for, or how I can keep my dignity and morality intact without ruining everyone else's good time?

OP. you touch on various different, and I do mean DIFFERENT subjects here...

In DA: Origins.
1. If you do not abandon the lands and your family, you die. You aren't god modding, what exactly do you expect here? This isn't "immoral" or "cowardice"... it is not given as an option because the only option is "escape" or "you die, game over".

2. Fellow initiates did not die to "tests", they died during a FAILED MAGICAL TRANSFORMATION... anyone SPLATTERED by demon blood DIES. PERIOD! If you fight a demon and cut if with your sword and its blood splashes on you YOU DIE!
The magical transformation has a CHANCE of killing you, if you survive you become IMMUNE to the death effect of demon blood.

I don't know how you missed that part.

3. They DID kill the one who tried to run away after finding out what the process entailed. I think the explanation was that if the superstitious masses knew that you undergo a magical transformation using demon blood you might be persecuted even FURTHER (keep in mind that they have been banned and nearly obliterated before, and for most of the game you are being chased)
That being said, point 3 was kinda weak... 1 and 2 there was simply no other choice, at all. #3 there was a choice, you could just let the guy go (he would be dead anyways from the poison)... I admit that part was just being *******s for the sake of being *******s as the justification was slim and there was other choice and you couldn't do anything.
EDIT: Although, to be fair, the guy was already dead (since he was splashed with demon blood), and the magical transformation was the ONLY thing that could save him.

Subject 2:

Another PC wants to do some disgustingly evil in front of my character, they are too stubborn to listen to reason, and the entire group will turn against me if I physically intervene.

Sounds like you are usually playing a good character in an evil party... why?
I can't tell if it is you or them being wrong because I don't know you personally or the exact circumstances.
1. If you are just being prissy, then get with the program and roll a less high strung character and stop ruining everyone's fun
2. If they are just being jerks, find a new group of non jerks
3. Optionally, neither is entirely wrong and you are just very very different, in which case find a new group as well.

But someone is not doing something right... and in which case sometimes people need to go their separate ways, it happens.


Subject 3:

A BBEG does something evil in front of me, and I am not allowed to try and stop him because he is much higher level and attempting will only get the whole party killed and I will be blamed for ruining the game.
Here you are flat out wrong.
Imagine an IRL example... say you convinced your family to take a trip to some third world dictatorship country... when there you decide to attack the local dictator because he abuses people... Not only have you assured your own demise, you screwed over your family.

Your party is your family here, you don't sentence them all to SURE DEATH because you see something terrible. You think they are heartless and evil for not interfering? They KNOW they will die if they try... so instead they live to fight another day, and remember exactly who the BBEG is and make note to take him out when they ever get the chance.

This is more of you being upset that the DM ever sets up a situation where the BBEG is not a total push over compared to you... Being a hero does not mean Godmode, it does not mean that anything in whole world is nothing before your might. If it did you will not even need a SYSTEM... you would just say "I attack the BBEG" and the DM would say "you slay him where he stands" without rolling a single die. Because you are the "hero".

taltamir
2009-11-23, 10:35 PM
Sounds like your DM likes rail-roading and babysitting your PCs, if you want to commit suicide by attacking the villain, then fine! Let the villain curb stomp you. You should be able to fight fellow PCs that do something your character doesn't like.

Also, I haven't played DAO, but from what I know of it, its "DARK" fantasy, not "rainbows and unicorns" fantasy. Your character is supposed to be immoral!

It seems like the problem is more of the BBEG killing the whole party when he tries to commit suicide...
I think the solution should be obvious... have the other party members pretend they are not with him and have the DM make the BBEG BELIEVE them.

That is...

BBEG: And now my townspeople, I will drown these puppies in front of everyone... mWHAHAHAHA.
PC1: how dare you evil knave, we shall slay you!
PC2-5: what? we can't hope to succeed.
PC1: cowards, fight on!
BBEG: kill thems
PC2-5: Uh, we are not with him, we run away with the peasants.
DM: ok then, the BBEG and his guards only attack whomever is standing to fight, not randomly chasing escaping people... who stands their ground?
PC1 & PC2: We do.
PC3-5: we don't, we run..
DM: ok, PC1 and 2 roll initiative...


The less tangible rewards of my games are often denied evil characters as well: love, true friendship, recognition for their deeds, etc.

You actually role play a love interest for your PCs?
That would seem like it would be all KINDS of awkward.

Woodsman
2009-11-23, 10:46 PM
BBEG's performing truly vile acts in front of much weaker people is a tactic supposed to instill fear. You don't screw with a man who tears off heads without a second thought when you can barely swing a sword.

Frankly, OP, I think it's great you want to go head-to-head with BBEG, but come on, that's Stupid Good when the BBEG is crazy powerful and you... aren't. Besides, being Good entails responsibility for others, and risking your party's lives for your ideals is selfish. See what happens there? In trying to fight the railroading, you've become immoral with your character(s). Railroading isn't cool, but that's something you confront your DM about away from the table.

Frankly, I'm not pleased with how anyone handled this.

*I wonder if I've been ninja'd*

Yukitsu
2009-11-23, 10:53 PM
BBEG's performing truly vile acts in front of much weaker people is a tactic supposed to instill fear. You don't screw with a man who tears off heads without a second thought when you can barely swing a sword, unless you're a wizard.


Fixed it for you.

I typically play my characters such that they can solo the entire party if I have to. I just keep the items and prepared spells for that purpose secret, and only if there are massive alignment differences in the party. Wizards are pretty perfect for this purpose.

Doc Roc
2009-11-23, 11:16 PM
I still think it's conceptually a bad idea. The whole point of RPGs, IMO, is for the players to get to do things. If you script a scene based on the players doing nothing, well, your storytelling skills had better be freaking amazing.

Once you get to the point where you're coming up with detailed mechanical and plot-related justifications for why the PCs have to stand around and watch (he has a dragon, and contingencies, and he won't actually just kill them because . . .) then I usually find that's a sign that you should scrap the idea and start over.

I think the answer here is actually a really simple one. The world is really big. Really really really big. Like omg-huge, in actual practice. I think it's best if the PCs merely hear about the BBEG's establishing act, and arrive considerably after the fact. Perhaps he or she has left them a specific message? Maybe spelled out a bit of obscenity using ruined market stalls as letters?


I really recommend that you just repeat the MST3K mantra. But more than that, how many sessions in are you?

KellKheraptis
2009-11-23, 11:22 PM
Fixed it for you.

I typically play my characters such that they can solo the entire party if I have to. I just keep the items and prepared spells for that purpose secret, and only if there are massive alignment differences in the party. Wizards are pretty perfect for this purpose.

I recommend a similar approach, only play a Hellbred Wizard. This serves three purposes :

1)Easy way to nab Mindsight if you pick the mind aspect. Con hit be damned.

2)Evil exception means you can use the full range of Wizard and any other lists you get for good, without repercussion.

3)Two words : Tainted Sorcerer. Solo the entire group AND the BBEG if need be, and if not needed, just keep the kid gloves on. The party will love your never-ending spell slots, and so long as you pwn the bad guys with bad guy-fu, you'll still aquire taint (which does nothing to you).

taltamir
2009-11-23, 11:25 PM
I recommend a similar approach, only play a Hellbred Wizard. This serves three purposes :

1)Easy way to nab Mindsight if you pick the mind aspect. Con hit be damned.

2)Evil exception means you can use the full range of Wizard and any other lists you get for good, without repercussion.

3)Two words : Tainted Sorcerer. Solo the entire group AND the BBEG if need be, and if not needed, just keep the kid gloves on. The party will love your never-ending spell slots, and so long as you pwn the bad guys with bad guy-fu, you'll still aquire taint (which does nothing to you).

can you list some sources? those all sound awesome but I haven't a clue what they do or where they are from.

Talakeal
2009-11-23, 11:27 PM
There are many examples in fiction when a hero dies in a hopeless last stand, or is made a martyr. If you consider this stupid good then so be it, but personally I just consider it part of being a hero.

Look at 300, where they are outnumbered by thousands to 1 and death is certain. But they fight and die because they know that if they hold out long enough they will save the rest of Greece.
Likewise, if a hero sees a villain murdering / enslaving / raping innocent women and children and there is a chance, no matter how slight, that they can stop it I think they should take that chance.
When I was a child I remember in the Marvel comic book Infinity Gauntlet Captain America refuses to back down and challenges Thanos to one on one combat. The odds of Thanos being beaten are only .05%, but still Captain America does not surrender, and is killed in one blow. That image has stuck with me all these years.


It has been said it is better to die on one's feet than live on one's knees. I believe this is true in real life and in gaming. I would rather play a character for one session and go out in a blaze of glory than play a coward for an entire campaign.

My problem is when the GM or the rest of the part say's "NO! He is too strong you cannot attack!" Or worse kill the rest of the party by DM FIAT because I dared to go off the tracks.

taltamir
2009-11-23, 11:32 PM
There are many examples in fiction when a hero dies in a hopeless last stand, or is made a martyr. If you consider this stupid good then so be it, but personally I just consider it part of being a hero.
Yes, they probably should have included an option to "stay and fight" which resulted in a "and you heroicly died fighting impossible odds, and the world went to hell in a handbasket... *choose: undo/start a new game/quit*"


My problem is when the GM or the rest of the part say's "NO! He is too strong you cannot attack!" Or worse kill the rest of the party by DM FIAT because I dared to go off the tracks.

You don't need a DM fiat to say that a level 1 party isn't killing a level 10 BBEG and his entire freaking ARMY.
Unless you god mod, there are plenty of undefeatable opponents.

KellKheraptis
2009-11-23, 11:40 PM
can you list some sources? those all sound awesome but I haven't a clue what they do or where they are from.

How about a full build? Fair warning : this is my Ultimate Mage (having dethroned even the full Incantatrix and the Incantaluuran War Weaver), and as such is ABSOLUTELY GAME SHATTERING. You have been warned.

Hellbred Focused Specialist Illusionist 2/Metaphysical Spellshaper 3/Incantatrix 4/Tainted Sorcerer 1/Halruuan Elder 5/Shadowcraft Mage 4/Shadow Adept 1

ACF's: Fighter Feats (Wizard, UA/SRD), Chains of Disbelief (UA/SRD), Illusion Mastery (UA/SRD)

Notable Class Features:
Metamagic Effect (Incantatrix 3, Spellcraft check to apply metamagic to a spell in effect without raise to spell level)

3 Bonus Metamagic Feats (Metaphysical Spellshaper 2, Incantatrix 1 and 4)

Metaphysical Metamagic (Metaphysical Spellshaper 1, ability damage to apply metamagic)

Metamagic Mastery (Metaphysical Spellshaper 3, reduce overall level of metamagic by 1)

Taint Abilities (Tainted Sorcerer 1, use blood [hp damage] to substitute material components, use blood to apply metamagic, Taint Score spellcasting instead of stat, taint suppression so no one can tell you're evil as all hell)

Adroit Casting (Halruuan Elder 1 and 4, reduce metamagic cost of one metamagic feat by 1)

Signature Spell (Halruuan Elder 2 and 5, spontaneously convert spells memorized to signature spells)

Circle Leader (Halruuan Elder 5, use of circle magic as detailed in DMG)

Telepathy 100' (Hellbred racial ability, 15 HD, 30/60/120' Darkvision also, eventually usable in any darkness as a devil's)

Cloak of Shadow (Shadowcraft Mage 1, miss chance based on SCM level)

Silent/Extend Illusion (Shadowcraft Mage 2/4, as the metamagic feats, only automatic with no increase in spell level)

Shadow Illusion (Shadowcraft Mage 3, use a figment to mimic any Conjuration or Evocation spell on your list, with 10% reality per spell slot level)

Insidious/Pernicious/Tenacious Magic (Shadow Adept 1, makes dispelling of Shadow spells far harder).

Sources:
Shining South - Halruuan Elder
SRD/PHB/DMG/UA - Circle Magic, ACF's
Complete Mage - Focused Specialist
Player's Guide to Faerun - Incantatrix, Shadow Adept
Races of Stone - Shadowcraft Mage, nonracial adaptation
Metaphysical Spellshaper - Book of Erotic Fantasy*
Fiendish Codex II - Hellbred race

*Works just fine without, but adds one more layer of metamagic abuse. YMMV.

Any questions, just ask!

Foryn Gilnith
2009-11-23, 11:41 PM
If the GM/players say it's too strong, that's not important - your character is dieing anyway so his foolishness won't be remembered. If the GM kills the whole party, that's not your fault. If the BBEG decides to kill the whole party for what you, individually, did; he might as well decide to kill the whole party for the lulz.

It's stupid, IMO, but heroes don't need to be smart.

@taltamir: No, but you do have a non-zero chance of killing the BBEG, which would accomplish something.

HamHam
2009-11-24, 12:16 AM
Any questions, just ask!

How do you prevent your depravity score from passing the severe threshold rendering you permanently insane?

taltamir
2009-11-24, 12:20 AM
How do you prevent your depravity score from passing the severe threshold rendering you permanently insane?

what would be the problem with being insane? Isn't this how WOTC describes all their CHAOTIC examples (the alignment description says chaotic is not insane, but their character examples are all insane...) :P
I am just kidding, it is a valid question.

It looks like an impressive build... but what if you DON'T want to be evil?

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 12:22 AM
Actually, I can offer a BBEG you have zero chance of killing.

So, then, is it fair, and I repeat, fair, to risk everyone else's characters so that you can satisfy a desire to be martyred in game?

Let me articulate this a little more finely.

In your moral system, it is okay to sacrifice, potentially, the only chances that the world has of emerging from tyranny, based on your current feelings, on your character's current feelings, and on the basis of "Inaction is purely evil."

Who's evil here?
Youuuu arreeeee! Why? Pride, arrogance, and inflexibility in the face of a choice between two unequal evils are the hallmarks of the tragic villain, the one who can't give up (for example) his love to save the world. Here? You can't give up your love of immediate gratification.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 12:23 AM
If the GM/players say it's too strong, that's not important - your character is dieing anyway so his foolishness won't be remembered. If the GM kills the whole party, that's not your fault. If the BBEG decides to kill the whole party for what you, individually, did; he might as well decide to kill the whole party for the lulz.

It's stupid, IMO, but heroes don't need to be smart.

@taltamir: No, but you do have a non-zero chance of killing the BBEG, which would accomplish something.

that non zero chance is infinitesimal (aka, he needs to roll 20 after 20 while the BBEG AND all his minions roll 1 after 1); and if he just wait up for a FEW LEVELS; or at least for a better time, he will have a very high chance.
For example, if he sneak up into the BBEG's bedchambers at night with a whole party prebuffed and ready to teleport out after assassination... instead of attacking him when he has a literal army standing between him and you.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 12:29 AM
Actually, I can offer a BBEG you have zero chance of killing.

So, then, is it fair, and I repeat, fair, to risk everyone else's characters so that you can satisfy a desire to be martyred in game?

Let me articulate this a little more finely.

In your moral system, it is okay to sacrifice, potentially, the only chances that the world has of emerging from tyranny, based on your current feelings, on your character's current feelings, and on the basis of "Inaction is purely evil."

Who's evil here?
Youuuu arreeeee! Why? Pride, arrogance, and inflexibility in the face of a choice between two unequal evils are the hallmarks of the tragic villain, the one who can't give up (for example) his love to save the world. Here? You can't give up your love of immediate gratification.

For those who really need to see the BBEG that can't be killed?

Look at the Tippyverse.

There are other examples, but it's solid. There is a lot out there that nothing less than Pun-Pun can win against.

KellKheraptis
2009-11-24, 12:32 AM
How do you prevent your depravity score from passing the severe threshold rendering you permanently insane?

Evil Exception racial trait. Taint is a product of evil, and has nasty side effects that us hellbred folk don't like. :D

And Tal, no reason you have to be really...you'll still be raising taint score by casting, well, anything, especially corrupt spells, but it's how you use them that would affect alignment. But seriously, NE isn't THAT bad, is it? :P

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 12:33 AM
I agree one hundred percent about tragic villains who can't put aside their own pride and inflexibility to save the world. I have played that role several times and I feel it is one of the better role playing experiences.

However, that isn't what I am talking about here. I am not talking about "immediate gratification", I am talking about not being able to stand by and witness an atrocity. If I see a villain attacking someone who cannot defend them self, I will intervene. As a hero, my life is meaningless if I do not act as a hero. Even if I can't kill the villain, I can at least distract them long enough for their previous victim to get away.

Also, there a very few BBEG where a starting character doesn't have a chance to take them down. Unless they are a very optimized build or have a huge numbers of levels on you a lucky string of crits or failed saves can still take them down. And in almost every other game system besides D&D, as in real life, the chance is much higher.

Also, a couple people have pointed out that as the PC you are the "only chance to save the world" and thus letting yourself be killed is more evil. Unless you are horribly metagaming, I can't imagine how proud and arrogant a low level character would have to be too actually believe that.

Now, I can see an older and wiser character behaving in such a matter. But not your average PC, who is a hot headed youth.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 12:36 AM
For those who really need to see the BBEG that can't be killed?

Look at the Tippyverse.

There are other examples, but it's solid. There is a lot out there that nothing less than Pun-Pun can win against.

hitler, stalin, etc...

Notice that there have been plenty of ASSASSINATION attempts against them...
But none of them were an impulse thing where someone just charged them in an impossible odds, they planned to hit them in their most volnerable..
In other words, they looked away when they were doing their "evil stuff", and planned their attack carefully. Still all failed to assassinate.

So you let the BBEG do his evil thing, and then you teleport into his bedchamber fully buffed at midnight.
Or you make a heroic last stand... with those of like mind. You don't, however, force others into your suicide mission.

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 12:45 AM
Also, there a very few BBEG where a starting character doesn't have a chance to take them down. Unless they are a very optimized build or have a huge numbers of levels on you a lucky string of crits or failed saves can still take them down. And in almost every other game system besides D&D, as in real life, the chance is much higher.


I find this claim incredible. Tell me how you would kill the following as a Level 1 character:

A fallen planetar.
A beholder.
A 13th level wizard with overland flight up, ~100 hp, and solid fog prepared.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 12:45 AM
However, that isn't what I am talking about here. I am not talking about "immediate gratification", I am talking about not being able to stand by and witness an atrocity. If I see a villain attacking someone who cannot defend them self, I will intervene. As a hero, my life is meaningless if I do not act as a hero. Even if I can't kill the villain, I can at least distract them long enough for their previous victim to get away.Not always. Sometimes, you see the culmination of a well-thought out plan, where the villain has the element of surprise, and most advantages. To interfere is to get caught at best, and killed at worst. Don't get me wrong, I love a good 'prison break' story. But it's not always the way to go.

The number one rule of life saving is: Don't become a casualty. A lifesaver will save nobody when he's laying beside them. This is the most basic lesson taught to the beginning EMT's, Paramedics, Firefighters, and Police. There's a gunman taking potshots at people from the tower? You don't run out in the open and wave your hands.


Also, there a very few BBEG where a starting character doesn't have a chance to take them down. Unless they are a very optimized build or have a huge numbers of levels on you a lucky string of crits or failed saves can still take them down. And in almost every other game system besides D&D, as in real life, the chance is much higher. Unless your resources can't bypass their defenses. When your odds of victory are in the neighborhood of 0.0034% of winning, and theirs are 96% of killing you and the victim you were "rescuing", that's what's known as 'throwing your life away for nothing.


Also, a couple people have pointed out that as the PC you are the "only chance to save the world" and thus letting yourself be killed is more evil. Unless you are horribly metagaming, I can't imagine how proud and arrogant a low level character would have to be too actually believe that.You need be neither proud nor arrogant to realize, you do what good you can. Nothing is served by laying on the ground beside the corpse of the person you tried to save. You are neither proud nor arrogant to believe that you can't do everything.

I'd say you're arrogant to be fresh out of fighter college, and spitting in the faces of archmages and dragons.



Now, I can see an older and wiser character behaving in such a matter. But not your average PC, who is a hot headed youth.
Your average PC is a successful and skilled combatant. Level 3 PC's don't become level 4's without knowing their capabilities.

What this says, is that you choose your battles. It's a basic rule, for basic training. Those that don't learn it, usually end up bleeding out for those that do.

CockroachTeaParty
2009-11-24, 12:47 AM
You actually role play a love interest for your PCs?
That would seem like it would be all KINDS of awkward.

Not if you're amazing, like me. :smallcool:

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 12:47 AM
Many of our greatest heroes have had to make these choices. Men like Winston Churchill. If they aren't heroic enough for you because in a moment of great strife and great pressure, they chose the lesser of two evils, we have nothing to say to each other.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 12:48 AM
Not if you're amazing, like me. :smallcool:

HA! Well said.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 12:48 AM
hitler, stalin, etc...

Notice that there have been plenty of ASSASSINATION attempts against them...
But none of them were an impulse thing where someone just charged them in an impossible odds, they planned to hit them in their most volnerable..
In other words, they looked away when they were doing their "evil stuff", and planned their attack carefully. Still all failed to assassinate.

So you let the BBEG do his evil thing, and then you teleport into his bedchamber fully buffed at midnight.
Or you make a heroic last stand... with those of like mind. You don't, however, force others into your suicide mission.

Actually, there were likely several impulse things as well.

They never made it into the history books, even. Because failure rarely does.

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 12:48 AM
A couple of years ago I was running a low epic game. The party found a powerful cursed sword of berserking. It was a +5 sword, but as soon as you use it in a life threatening situation it would dominate the wielder and forced them to slaughter everyone nearby, allies, enemies, and innocent bystanders alike, until the wielder passed out from exhaustion.
The player's knew the swords properties and wanted to destroy it. The rogue stole the sword from the party and then went to the army of a local town, passing it off as a non cursed +10 sword. He rolled a natural 20 on his already ridiculous bluff check, they rolled a natural 1 on sense motive, and so as a DM I really couldn't say he failed. Long story short he was 100,000 gp richer and a few days later there was a massacre in town when the city (which was under siege at the time) was next attacked.
When the rest of the party found out what the rogue had done he just shrugged his shoulders and said "I am a CN rogue, it's what I do". When the other PCs threatened to attack him he once again shrugged and explained that they couldn't do it. Through a combination of PRCs and magic items he had a hide skill that none of the other party members could come close to matching, the ability to cast improved invisibility, hide in plain sight and hide while observed. He told them if they attacked him he would simply disappear, and then come back and kill them when they were weak and resting up after their next big encounter and CDG them, selling their stuff.

How should the other players have responded to this?
What should I have done as a DM?

Simply kicking the rogue's player out of the group wasn't an option at this point, it was the end of a long campaign and we had already lost too many player's to RL, it would have simply been the end of the campaign.

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 12:50 AM
In this case, there is nothing you could have done, short of perhaps "accidentally" "random" rolling some gear that would help them beat his hide check later. The rogue, likely though, should have slid to evil for such an action. I fail to see the relevance, however, being just a simple man. Please explain?

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 12:52 AM
I find this claim incredible. Tell me how you would kill the following as a Level 1 character:

A fallen planetar.
A beholder.
A 13th level wizard with overland flight up, ~100 hp, and solid fog prepared.

Well, I believe simply rolling three nat 20s in a row will take out the first two.
But as I said, if they have a huge number of levels on you (I would consider 12 to be pretty huge) then the best you can hope for is too distract them if you are playing a relatively low lethality game like D&D.

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 12:52 AM
Well, I believe simply rolling three nat 20s in a row will take out the first two.
But as I said, if they have a huge number of levels on you (I would consider 12 to be pretty huge) then the best you can hope for is too distract them if you are playing a relatively low lethality game like D&D.

No it won't. The auto-kill rule is a house rule, and the best you could hope for would be a nice fat chunk of critical damage before they ascend out of your reach and torch you to death. The beholder, in fact, will blow you apart without flinching. It has spare resources, since after all, it can only aim so many eyestalks at a given target arc.

Look, I think it's much more relevant to discuss the actions of your fellow player characters. If you feel, really feel, that they were generally amoral, rather than being amoral in a specific and easily contested instance..... That would carry a lot more weight in my eyes, and likely in theirs.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 12:57 AM
A couple of years ago I was running a low epic game. The party found a powerful cursed sword of berserking. It was a +5 sword, but as soon as you use it in a life threatening situation it would dominate the wielder and forced them to slaughter everyone nearby, allies, enemies, and innocent bystanders alike, until the wielder passed out from exhaustion.
The player's knew the swords properties and wanted to destroy it. The rogue stole the sword from the party and then went to the army of a local town, passing it off as a non cursed +10 sword. He rolled a natural 20 on his already ridiculous bluff check, they rolled a natural 1 on sense motive, and so as a DM I really couldn't say he failed. Long story short he was 100,000 gp richer and a few days later there was a massacre in town when the city (which was under siege at the time) was next attacked.
When the rest of the party found out what the rogue had done he just shrugged his shoulders and said "I am a CN rogue, it's what I do". When the other PCs threatened to attack him he once again shrugged and explained that they couldn't do it. Through a combination of PRCs and magic items he had a hide skill that none of the other party members could come close to matching, the ability to cast improved invisibility, hide in plain sight and hide while observed. He told them if they attacked him he would simply disappear, and then come back and kill them when they were weak and resting up after their next big encounter and CDG them, selling their stuff.

How should the other players have responded to this?
What should I have done as a DM?

Simply kicking the rogue's player out of the group wasn't an option at this point, it was the end of a long campaign and we had already lost too many player's to RL, it would have simply been the end of the campaign.

Wow... just wow..
1. rogue is definitely evil
2. in character, this totally warrants the party fighting each other to the death.
3. What, no glitterdust? dust of appearance? true sight? anything?
4. how good is the rogues tracking skill? could he have really tracked the party effectively.
5. yes, campaigns can fall apart from someone doing something like that... I think it obviously depends on him, but he really acted in a way that justified some punative action. The least serious reprecussion should be rogue becomes a new BBEG and player rolls a new GOOD character and doesn't **** everyone over.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 12:57 AM
A couple of years ago I was running a low epic game. The party found a powerful cursed sword of berserking. It was a +5 sword, but as soon as you use it in a life threatening situation it would dominate the wielder and forced them to slaughter everyone nearby, allies, enemies, and innocent bystanders alike, until the wielder passed out from exhaustion.
The player's knew the swords properties and wanted to destroy it. The rogue stole the sword from the party and then went to the army of a local town, passing it off as a non cursed +10 sword. He rolled a natural 20 on his already ridiculous bluff check, they rolled a natural 1 on sense motive, and so as a DM I really couldn't say he failed. Long story short he was 100,000 gp richer and a few days later there was a massacre in town when the city (which was under siege at the time) was next attacked.
When the rest of the party found out what the rogue had done he just shrugged his shoulders and said "I am a CN rogue, it's what I do". When the other PCs threatened to attack him he once again shrugged and explained that they couldn't do it. Through a combination of PRCs and magic items he had a hide skill that none of the other party members could come close to matching, the ability to cast improved invisibility, hide in plain sight and hide while observed. He told them if they attacked him he would simply disappear, and then come back and kill them when they were weak and resting up after their next big encounter and CDG them, selling their stuff.

How should the other players have responded to this?
What should I have done as a DM?

Simply kicking the rogue's player out of the group wasn't an option at this point, it was the end of a long campaign and we had already lost too many player's to RL, it would have simply been the end of the campaign.

There are always options, if the players are willing to look for them.

AMF, lack of cover, non-natural surroundings, and a couple beefy characters can usually beat down any attempt at subterfuge. Glitterdust + stabbity also works.

So does a Rod quickened Charm Monster, Stone to Flesh, Disintegrate, Twinned split enervate, or any of a dozen other spells that can completely obviate the ability to hide or resist. Heck, there's a few dozen well-thought traps that can remove such a player. But you don't do it by shouting "YOU'RE A BAD MAN AND I'M GOING TO STOP YOU, SO GET READY!" first. You tell em, "Alright, alright, chill. Just please let us know what you're doing so we don't get caught in the middle of a town when you set it to self destruct..." And the next day, you kill him when HE's vulnerable, or at least, incapacitate him.

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 12:59 AM
No it won't. The auto-kill rule is a house rule. The beholder, in fact, will blow you apart without flinching. It has spare resources, since after all, it can only aim so many eyestalks at a given target arc.


No it won't. The auto-kill rule is a house rule. The beholder, in fact, will blow you apart without flinching. It has spare resources, since after all, it can only aim so many eyestalks at a given target arc.

Optional rule, not house rule. If you aren't playing with it then hope for a max damage critical and hope they fail their fort save vs. massive damage works just as well. Terribly unlikely, and impossible for many characters, there is a chance. But I wasn't really talking about giant monsters or high level wizards who have a full array off buffs up.

But in either case a better strategy would be too simply distract them until the victim can escape. If you do it well enough they may well forget all about their victim, or you could possibly become a literal martyr, and if enough people will be inspired by you that they will rise up and defeat the guy en masse (not likely in the D&D rule set).

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 01:01 AM
They had true sight on items, but it was limited use and limited range. Unfortunatly no, they didn't have an arcane caster. The party wizard had left for college a few levels earlier, and the rogue (who had a few warlock levels and tons of UMD) was slowly taking over that role.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 01:02 AM
Optional rule, not house rule. If you aren't playing with it then hope for a max damage critical and hope they fail their fort save vs. massive damage works just as well. Terribly unlikely, and impossible for many characters, there is a chance. But I wasn't really talking about giant monsters or high level wizards who have a full array off buffs up.

But in either case a better strategy would be too simply distract them until the victim can escape. If you do it well enough they may well forget all about their victim, or you could possibly become a literal martyr, and if enough people will be inspired by you that they will rise up and defeat the guy en masse (not likely in the D&D rule set).

how will you even do it? they are flying, they probably have arrow immunity up... only magic spells can hit them, and you have level 1 spells only.

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 01:04 AM
Also, one of the players was a paladin. Paladins are supposed to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, and not associate with evil. At the same time they are always supposed to fight with honor. It seemed to be kind of a no win situation for him. I didn't ding him for it because I felt it wasn't his fault, but I felt kind of dirty for not doing it as I was trying not to take sides in inter party conflict and just be a fair and impartial DM who goes by the book.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 01:05 AM
They had true sight on items, but it was limited use and limited range. Unfortunatly no, they didn't have an arcane caster. The party wizard had left for college a few levels earlier, and the rogue (who had a few warlock levels and tons of UMD) was slowly taking over that role.

Garner his trust, more or less, and kill/trap him in his sleep. There are a variety of divine spells that work just as well, if not better. Targeted Dispel and a grapple will usually knock the fight out of most people. In case his escape artist is good, have a second melee type ready to grapple if he escapes... Or the cleric.


Also, one of the players was a paladin. Paladins are supposed to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, and not associate with evil. At the same time they are always supposed to fight with honor. It seemed to be kind of a no win situation for him. I didn't ding him for it because I felt it wasn't his fault, but I felt kind of dirty for not doing it as I was trying not to take sides in inter party conflict and just be a fair and impartial DM who goes by the book.
They'd have to grossly violate the honor clause. Catching him unawares when he's stated he's committed a crime, and is willing to murder anyone who attempts to bring him to justice? Doing so to bring him to justice is actually pretty good.

Not associating with evil is actually mitigated, in BoED. Paladins are expected to attempt to redeem the evil, and some association to that end is required.

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 01:07 AM
how will you even do it? they are flying, they probably have arrow immunity up... only magic spells can hit them, and you have level 1 spells only.

I'm sorry, but this is a silly argument. No I don't know how a level one character would fight an optimized mage a dozen levels above them who is currently fully buffed and nuking commoners from the air. At that point they are really more of a force of nature than a villain. Still, assuming he has a limited number of nuke spells and he intends on using them all, if I can convince him to use even one of them on me instead of said commoners than I have saved at least one life.

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 01:08 AM
I... think I should bow out of this now.

Aldizog
2009-11-24, 01:10 AM
Look at 300, where they are outnumbered by thousands to 1 and death is certain. But they fight and die because they know that if they hold out long enough they will save the rest of Greece.

So that's the movie version? Interesting. A thousand to 1? Really? The battle at the Black Gate in RotK is a similar situation. They know they're probably going to die, but there is something they can contribute to the ultimate victory by doing so.

The history, in which Thermopylae was a true defeat for the Greeks both tactically and strategically, is more a case of "We're fighting because we are certain we're in the right, and so it's preferable to surrendering, even though it would take a miracle for us to accomplish anything significant." That's more like Midnight, the end of the fifth season of Angel, or the Battle of the Line in Babylon 5.

There is certainly a place for heroes who will fight despite the odds. Certain stories (and certain retellings of history) doesn't require them to actually win or even make a consequential difference in order to be heroes. But generally gamers are a pragmatic sort, and you only see this sort of heroism when you have, with their prior consent, placed them in an almost-certainly-no-win situation (like Midnight).

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 01:16 AM
The history, in which Thermopylae was a true defeat for the Greeks both tactically and strategically, is more a case of "We're fighting because we are certain we're in the right, and so it's preferable to surrendering, even though it would take a miracle for us to accomplish anything significant." That's more like Midnight, the end of the fifth season of Angel, or the Battle of the Line in Babylon 5.

Incorrect. They delayed an invading army for 3 days. A massive one, said to number 70,000 - 100,000. The greek navy held off a naval force 10 times their size.

The inaccuracies? There were 300 Spartans, and 7000 greeks, supported by a Greek navy. They were the superior troop, individually, with better gear, terrain choice, and training. Their delay allowed the greeks to muster an army that DID defeat the Persians.

Now, what if the 70,000 had superior tacticians? Superior gear? Superior training? The greeks would have been a speedbump.

That's what we're talking about here.

There are situations when you bide your time.

Gpope
2009-11-24, 01:29 AM
Their delay allowed the greeks to muster an army that DID defeat the Persians.

This didn't happen. The Greek navy fell back and ambushed the pursuing Persian navy at Salamis, demolishing and scattering the Persian fleet. As a result the invading armies packed up and went home due to inadequate supply lines. Thermopylae didn't really do much of anything to facilitate the Greek victory.


Also, one of the players was a paladin. Paladins are supposed to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, and not associate with evil. At the same time they are always supposed to fight with honor. It seemed to be kind of a no win situation for him.

Hint: Paladins are basically always in a no-win situation, unless there's a steady supply of mindless opponents and pure elemental evil for them to fight. Killing people is a messy goddamn business. You can call yourself a hero if it makes you sleep better at night, but if your standard solution to a problem is to find a scapegoat and kill them then hey guess what you're probably evil. And, well, 99% of adventures consist of finding someone to blame and killing them.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 01:30 AM
I'm sorry, but this is a silly argument. No I don't know how a level one character would fight an optimized mage a dozen levels above them who is currently fully buffed and nuking commoners from the air. At that point they are really more of a force of nature than a villain. Still, assuming he has a limited number of nuke spells and he intends on using them all, if I can convince him to use even one of them on me instead of said commoners than I have saved at least one life.

that is not a highly optimized wizard, it is any standard arcane caster.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 01:32 AM
Hint: Paladins are basically always in a no-win situation, unless there's a steady supply of mindless opponents and pure elemental evil for them to fight. Killing people is a messy goddamn business. You can call yourself a hero if it makes you sleep better at night, but if your standard solution to a problem is to find a scapegoat and kill them then hey guess what you're probably evil. And, well, 99% of adventures consist of finding someone to blame and killing them.

I feel sad for paladins...
Their code of conduct is not practical except for fighting:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Self-DisposingVillain?from=Main.Ptitleyqvqooj6

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DisneyVillainDeath

And a few other tropes... if not he is F----

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 01:35 AM
I'm sorry, but this is a silly argument. No I don't know how a level one character would fight an optimized mage a dozen levels above them who is currently fully buffed and nuking commoners from the air. At that point they are really more of a force of nature than a villain. Still, assuming he has a limited number of nuke spells and he intends on using them all, if I can convince him to use even one of them on me instead of said commoners than I have saved at least one life.

What about what he does every day, for the next 10 years, because you weren't there to engineer a situation where you had the upper hand.

1 life now versus a lifetime of killing?

You saved nothing, except pride.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 01:39 AM
What about what he does every day, for the next 10 years, because you weren't there to engineer a situation where you had the upper hand.

1 life now versus a lifetime of killing?

You saved nothing, except pride.

What if? We can calculate that there is over 99% chance of your rash fullish attack failing and him doing it for the next 10 years.

There is an actual good chance if you actually have a plan and do something later when you are prepared to attack.

Aldizog
2009-11-24, 01:39 AM
Incorrect. They delayed an invading army for 3 days. A massive one, said to number 70,000 - 100,000. The greek navy held off a naval force 10 times their size.

The inaccuracies? There were 300 Spartans, and 7000 greeks, supported by a Greek navy. They were the superior troop, individually, with better gear, terrain choice, and training. Their delay allowed the greeks to muster an army that DID defeat the Persians.

The delay accomplished nothing. The Persians overran much of Greece, and razed Athens. The mustering of a victorious land army a year later at Plataea was not enabled by a 3-day delay at Thermopylae. Salamis was not impacted by Thermopylae either, since that same fleet was already assembled and had been (as you noted) fighting the Persians to a stalemate at Artemisium. In fact, the fleet might not have been able to win at Salamis if Thermopylae had gone on longer and they had kept trading losses at Artemisium.

The Greeks did remarkably well at Thermopylae thanks to training and equipment. Tactically very sound. But they still lost, and forcing a delay of a few days in a year-long campaign didn't really accomplish anything strategic. The Alamo was also a defeat that didn't offer any strategic benefit. That doesn't reflect badly on the losers.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 01:43 AM
What if? We can calculate that there is over 99% chance of your rash fullish attack failing and him doing it for the next 10 years.

There is an actual good chance if you actually have a plan and do something later when you are prepared to attack.

Exactly. If you're only hoping to save one life for one day, the extent of your PC hopes and dreams is "villain speedbump".

If you're willing to do what it takes to do the most good, and to make a positive impact in the world? Now you're starting to get closer to "hero".

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 01:47 AM
Basically, now, we're into situational ethics and the arithmetic of good and evil. I personally hold that no one can emerge from this sort of terrain unscathed.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 01:49 AM
Basically, now, we're into situational ethics and the arithmetic of good and evil. I personally hold that no one can emerge from this sort of terrain unscathed.

well... it is more then situational ethics... its "do i end the campaign by killing everyone because my character chose option A from a situational ethics debate knowing full well he will kill the entire party in vain"

If that was IRL most of us would be the terrified villagers who need saving...
But it is a game, and "martydom for the whole party" is not exactly a "game" or "fun" unless you are playing with the rare group of like minded people... in which case, why even bother with a DnD system... just roleplay the whole thing, you can roleplay spitting in the BBEGs face and yelling FREEEEEEEEEEDOOOOMMMM as they gut "you".

Aldizog
2009-11-24, 01:51 AM
I'm sorry, but this is a silly argument. No I don't know how a level one character would fight an optimized mage a dozen levels above them who is currently fully buffed and nuking commoners from the air. At that point they are really more of a force of nature than a villain. Still, assuming he has a limited number of nuke spells and he intends on using them all, if I can convince him to use even one of them on me instead of said commoners than I have saved at least one life.
I tend to agree with you. The force-of-nature-villains are just so insanely godlike powerful that it seems utterly unreasonable and metagamey for me to play a character who thinks "Well I'll just get myself up to near-Epic levels then take him on." The idea of having a plan to get oneself so powerful as to be able to contend with such a being? The idea that this being will itself not improve in the meantime?

The more I think about how 3.5 rules-as-world-mechanics shapes PC attitudes, the more E6 sounds appealing.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 01:53 AM
well... it is more then situational ethics... its "do i end the campaign by killing everyone because my character chose option A from a situational ethics debate knowing full well he will kill the entire party in vain"

Exactly. The player who says "I'd doom the party to death because my character can't stand by and watch this" is no different from the player that says, "I'm Chaotic Neutral, I'm just playing my character".

In a game with a principle goal of fun, when the accurate protrayal of a character results in the detriment of the primary objective, you don't accurately portray. All goals are secondary to the enjoyment of the players.


I tend to agree with you. The force-of-nature-villains are just so insanely godlike powerful that it seems utterly unreasonable and metagamey for me to play a character who thinks "Well I'll just get myself up to near-Epic levels then take him on." The idea of having a plan to get oneself so powerful as to be able to contend with such a being? The idea that this being will itself not improve in the meantime?

The more I think about how 3.5 rules-as-world-mechanics shapes PC attitudes, the more E6 sounds appealing.

And how about when the PC's are only 4 levels down, but battered and low on resources, after a tough encounter, whereas the villain is at full strength, with cohorts, minions, and foreknowledge of the situation?

taltamir
2009-11-24, 01:55 AM
Exactly. The player who says "I'd doom the party to death because my character can't stand by and watch this" is no different from the player that says, "I'm Chaotic Neutral, I'm just playing my character".

In a game with a principle goal of fun, when the accurate protrayal of a character results in the detriment of the primary objective, you don't accurately portray. All goals are secondary to the enjoyment of the players.

Current party something like that happens...
Paladin "wondered off for a while"... my guy went with the party, did his part, and I notified the DM that his alignment shifted.


And how about when the PC's are only 4 levels down, but battered and low on resources, after a tough encounter, whereas the villain is at full strength, with cohorts, minions, and foreknowledge of the situation?

And its not unthinkable to say "hey, how about we come back when I aquire a dispel magic scroll". Or "lets ambush him when he isn't fully buffed and ready".

Aldizog
2009-11-24, 02:03 AM
And how about when the PC's are only 4 levels down, but battered and low on resources, after a tough encounter, whereas the villain is at full strength, with cohorts, minions, and foreknowledge of the situation?
Quite a bit different. There are situations where it makes sense to take some time and regroup in ways the characters would understand. I like these cases.

There are other situations where the BBEG is shown way too early as insanely powerful, where it is the DM's intention that the PCs can eventually win by exploiting the mechanics of RPGs, doing the quests and leveling up so they close the gap with the BBEG, and then having the planned showdown. Not so much a fan of those.

Basically, I don't like being forced to metagame. My PC shouldn't ever be encouraged to think "I can come back and take him when I'm a few levels higher."

taltamir
2009-11-24, 02:06 AM
Quite a bit different. There are situations where it makes sense to take some time and regroup in ways the characters would understand. I like these cases.

There are other situations where the BBEG is shown way too early as insanely powerful, where it is the DM's intention that the PCs can eventually win by exploiting the mechanics of RPGs, doing the quests and leveling up so they close the gap with the BBEG, and then having the planned showdown. Not so much a fan of those.

Basically, I don't like being forced to metagame. My PC shouldn't ever be encouraged to think "I can come back and take him when I'm a few levels higher."

Nobody actually argued this here... we said things like "surprise him later", "get the tactical advantage", etc...

Although, a few level higher is also not unthinkable... in non metagame perspective "I am a junior wizard who can only create one magic missile at a time and have yet to master a single flight spell... I need to READ MORE BOOKS and learn more powerful spells before I take on archmages".
You don't have to be aware of the fact that killing monsters makes you stronger (and not reading magic tomes... which is god-modding but a fundamental part of the janre) to make the choice to fight him on your own terms, have a plan, poison him, assassinate him, or just come back when you have mastered more powerful spells / have some more fighting experience.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 02:08 AM
Quite a bit different. There are situations where it makes sense to take some time and regroup in ways the characters would understand. I like these cases.The original person disagreed. He stated that he could not ever sit by while someone did something wrong, or his hero was a wrongbadcoward, and didn't deserve to live.


There are other situations where the BBEG is shown way too early as insanely powerful, where it is the DM's intention that the PCs can eventually win by exploiting the mechanics of RPGs, doing the quests and leveling up so they close the gap with the BBEG, and then having the planned showdown. Not so much a fan of those.That's not meta. There's many cases in actual fiction where someone is helpless while a superior foe kills his mentor/etc while he is weak, and he devotes his life to training, so that when he meets the six-fingered man again, he may say, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."


Basically, I don't like being forced to metagame. My PC shouldn't ever be encouraged to think "I can come back and take him when I'm a few levels higher."
So Inigo Montoya, any hero character from Shonen Manga, and many other heroes in myth and legend wire naught but dirty metagamers?

taltamir
2009-11-24, 02:12 AM
is it metagame to assume that if I, who has no experience playing chess, face a world renoun chessmaster I will be trounced. But if I dedicate my life to the study of the field I will stand a chance of beating him one day?

Is it metagame to assume that if I spent the next 10 years studying nuclear physics, I will know a lot more about the subject?

Is it metagame to assume that if I am faced with a master martial artist IRL today, I will get my ass kicked, but if I dedicate my life to practicing martial arts I Would be able to come back and beat him?

It is not metagame at all.. what is metagame is to say "ok, the guy is exactly level 7, you are exactly level 1, you know that. If you come back at level 10, he will still be level 7". That is metagame, and really has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

Gpope
2009-11-24, 02:13 AM
Typically when the BBEG is shown as having insurmountable power, the impetus for the PCs is not actually "let's go around leveling until we're strong enough to take them down." Usually the PCs have other goals, such as fulfilling ancient prophecies and acquiring MacGuffins that will theoretically allow them to defeat the otherwise super-powerful enemy. Or rather than fighting the BBEG directly they're trying to deliver people from oppression, or seek allies in a coalition to take on the hordes of evil, or any other number of intermediate tasks that happen to serve to bring the PCs' power level up to a point where a showdown is feasible yet also have a plausible end in and of themselves.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 02:15 AM
Typically when the BBEG is shown as having insurmountable power, the impetus for the PCs is not actually "let's go around leveling until we're strong enough to take them down." Usually the PCs have other goals, such as fulfilling ancient prophecies and acquiring MacGuffins that will theoretically allow them to defeat the otherwise super-powerful enemy. Or rather than fighting the BBEG directly they're trying to deliver people from oppression, or seek allies in a coalition to take on the hordes of evil, or any other number of intermediate tasks that happen to serve to bring the PCs' power level up to a point where a showdown is feasible yet also have a plausible end in and of themselves.

very correct... "lets forge an allience of all the races" or "lets find some long lost artifacts"... Actually I have done campaigns of both... saw an insurmountable enemy. Did not charge to my death, instead I ran away and we decided the exact things above. Nobody suggested "lets kill random encounters until we level"...

Although, it is a very real approach in CRPGs.

Surfing HalfOrc
2009-11-24, 02:17 AM
I'm of the opinion that most people mistake "evil" with "jackass." There are some great "evil" protagonists in movies and literature, but nobody seems to know how to play a Riddick or a "Mad" Max Rocketansky or even a Belkar Bitterleaf.

At the same time, I've run into people that play tabletop RPGs and ignore the possibility of redemption that tabletop offers that CRPGs really don't. Can the vampire spawn be "saved" if the head vampire is killed? What about the were-fill in the blank? I had a paladin running with a group chasing down a werewolf who had deliberatly infected some villagers... Two of the villagers were tied to the wall in the werewolf's lair while the disease coursed through their veins. I wanted to kill the main werewolf and try to bring the villagers back to town to find a cure, but the ranger slit the captives' throats... The DM said it was OK since the desease had tainted the villagers evil, even my paladin Detect Evil powers said they were evil.

But to me, I felt it would be more "heroic" to rescue the villagers than kill them in cold blood.

I ended up dropping out of that group.

Seatbelt
2009-11-24, 02:18 AM
I touched on this subject in a previous thread, but felt it deserved its own thread, and was reminded of the subject today while playing Dragon Age

<spoiler>
Origins. Without giving to much of the games plot away,
within the first hour of the game I found my character forced into abandoning my family and their land to enemies, conscripted into a cult of demon hunters, and forced to watch as their tests kill my fellow initiates, and watch as they brutally execute any who wish to leave their order. Although my character had numerous chances to escape or fight back, the game never gives you an option.
<spoiler>

This made my character look like a wretched coward in my eyes, and made me lose all respect for her. As a result I quickly lost interest in the game (I find the combat engine terrible and was only playing for the storyline) and uninstalled. However, I have had the same problem in many table top games where walking away isn't so easy, and so I wanted to know if anyone had any advice.



This but backwards. I wanted to play a Braveheart Elf. The game even has the Braveheart opening story. I did get to butcher me some humans, but after that nothing. The game gave me virtually no opportunity to roleplay the character at all. I could either be good, neutral, or a jerk. I liked the RP in mass effect much better. I was a xenophobe to the core. When it came to aliens I was lawful evil. Party members were to be exploited, non-party member aliens had the harshest justice meted out to them. But I still beat the game with the paragon achievement because my character was otherwise good, just, and moral.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 02:21 AM
This but backwards. I wanted to play a Braveheart Elf. The game even has the Braveheart opening story. I did get to butcher me some humans, but after that nothing. The game gave me virtually no opportunity to roleplay the character at all. I could either be good, neutral, or a jerk. I liked the RP in mass effect much better. I was a xenophobe to the core. When it came to aliens I was lawful evil. Party members were to be exploited, non-party member aliens had the harshest justice meted out to them. But I still beat the game with the paragon achievement because my character was otherwise good, just, and moral.

and no matter how big an arse he was, that is how he will go down in the history books, with none the wiser.

Aldizog
2009-11-24, 02:27 AM
That's not meta. There's many cases in actual fiction where someone is helpless while a superior foe kills his mentor/etc while he is weak, and he devotes his life to training, so that when he meets the six-fingered man again, he may say, "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Well, he was ten years old in the book. Clearly he's got some potential for improvement ahead of him. Once he was "PC-age," 20, he was out and looking for the Count. And, crucially, the bad guy *didn't* spend that time training or getting better at swordplay. If you have a BBEG of some sort who also knows that training can improve prowess, but is quite satisfied with how much power he currently has, then this tactic is golden.

The starting point can make it credible. A mid-level adventurer who gets humbled by the BBEG and decides to train really hard should, to my mind, foresee less potential improvement than a ten-year-old kid. The target can also make it credible. A nobleman skilled in swordplay is a target that any PC I play could foresee themselves eventually surpassing. A fallen planetar? Only a PC really aware of 3.5's mechanics could ever see themselves as a match for something like that. I felt it was clear that I was addressing the point about "force-of-nature BBEGs", where as a player I know that enough leveling will put my PC within striking distance, but it seems unreasonable for the PC to know that. Examples about what you can accomplish with training you can do in the real world are just fine; it's when the game seems to ask my PC to accept that what training can accomplish is so many orders of magnitude greater that I really wonder what everybody's mindset and outlook must look like in that world.

I have no idea what Shonen Manga is, though.

For those of you that haven't had the DM pull "Here's the BBEG, I'm going to show you how tough he is, but you aren't supposed to fight him at this level and you'll have zero chance of winning if you try," consider yourselves lucky. It sounds like this was the OP's experience: "A BBEG does something evil in front of me, and I am not allowed to try and stop him because he is much higher level and attempting will only get the whole party killed and I will be blamed for ruining the game."

In my mind, this does sound like what I have seen before, not only in some CRPGs but at some tabletop games.

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 02:28 AM
Is it metagame to assume that if I spent the next 10 years studying nuclear physics, I will know a lot more about the subject?


In a word, yes.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 02:36 AM
Well, he was ten years old in the book. Clearly he's got some potential for improvement ahead of him. Once he was "PC-age," 20, he was out and looking for the Count. And, crucially, the bad guy *didn't* spend that time training or getting better at swordplay. If you have a BBEG of some sort who also knows that training can improve prowess, but is quite satisfied with how much power he currently has, then this tactic is golden.

The starting point can make it credible. A mid-level adventurer who gets humbled by the BBEG and decides to train really hard should, to my mind, foresee less potential improvement than a ten-year-old kid. The target can also make it credible. A nobleman skilled in swordplay is a target that any PC I play could foresee themselves eventually surpassing. A fallen planetar? Only a PC really aware of 3.5's mechanics could ever see themselves as a match for something like that. I felt it was clear that I was addressing the point about "force-of-nature BBEGs", where as a player I know that enough leveling will put my PC within striking distance, but it seems unreasonable for the PC to know that.

I have no idea what Shonen Manga is, though.

It's a style where characters of great power fight, and often, scenarios exist where the hero unloads on an enemy, gives it everything he has, and fails to even scratch him.

Then he undergoes some period of training, or personal self discovery, gains insight, and comes back, able to meet that foe on even footing.

A good example is the Bleach series.

In these examples, the combatant is a trained and skilled fighter. But there's a difference between being a fighter, and being a legend. In D&D worlds, that distinction is marked. It's not metagame to acknowledge it.

The real metagame is when such people don't come into existence until the party hits level 14.

Vitruviansquid
2009-11-24, 02:52 AM
I don't know about you guys, but I expect a certain level of railroading in video games. Maybe when someone finally develops an AI that can pass the Turing Test, we'll get much better RPG's... but for now, this the best we have.

In any case, I'm a big fan of separating the player and the PC. The way I see it, if you find that your PC and the group's PCs have incompatible moralities, your problem could be solved if, somewhere along the line, the DM should've told you guys what to expect from the campaign ("this is a good campaign. Don't roll evil without checking in with me first" or "this is an evil campaign. Don't roll good without checking in with me first.") or you, as players, got together to put the party together in a sensible fashion.

If the problem is that you, the player, is incompatible with the group's PCs' moralities, then you should probably step back and remember that you are, after all playing a roleplaying game. You could always quit the game if you decide you can't handle it.

If the problem is that you, the player, is incompatible with the group's PLAYERS' moralities (which, by the way, is much harder to discern than their PCs moralities, in my experience), then you should either tell the DM you're uncomfortable with the setting or you should just leave the group.

By "Players' moralities," what I mean is the age rating of the campaign (G/PG/PG-13/R). Of course, if you actually did have a problem with other players' moralities, I don't think you'd hang out with them much anyways, much less game. In any case, to take an example from a campaign I'm running:

The players, who were Vikings, were given the morally reprehensible task of sacking a small village, burning down its church, and looting/raping/murdering in order to strike fear into the heart of a certain king that the Vikings were extorting. This would be true to history, since such an (well, let's admit it, it's terrorism) attack would undermine a king's authority and finances as well as have parallels in actual medieval warfare, where such raids were carried out.

However, I'm personally very uncomfortable with a lot of these things and I know for a fact that at least two of my players were pretty hardcore Christians who would oppose it. So instead of actually going into the lurid details and mechanics of this raid, I instead censored it out completely and just told players to roll a d4 a couple of times. Every time they rolled a 4, they accomplished some of their objective and received a small amount of loot and experience. This went over quite well and nobody really had a problem with it.

So yeah, let's say, a player at your table says, "I want to murder this defenseless family. I do so by decapitating them slowly in front of the surviving family members..." Or let's say that's how your DM describes it when a player simply says "I want to murder this defenseless family." My opinion is that you, as a player who's uncomfortable in this situation, could and should speak out and tell the others you'd rather have them skip over the description.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 03:03 AM
In a word, yes.

then I better quit college and go flip some burgers because I will never ever amount to anything!

taltamir
2009-11-24, 03:05 AM
The starting point can make it credible. A mid-level adventurer who gets humbled by the BBEG and decides to train really hard should, to my mind, foresee less potential improvement than a ten-year-old kid.

Actually, to be honest he should foresee orders of magnitude more improvement if done right... why?

He is experienced enough to know that he needs to find a world class master to be his teacher.

The 10 year old on the other hand...

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 03:16 AM
Actually, to be honest he should foresee orders of magnitude more improvement if done right... why?

He is experienced enough to know that he needs to find a world class master to be his teacher.

The 10 year old on the other hand...

...Or he can realize that adventurers that strive and try get better. The legends of the world were once as he was.

Knowing how the world you live in works is not meta. If you realize that seasoned adventurers can do things that the beginning adventurer cannot even fathom, it would make sense that he should season. Inigo himself fell into Sword for Hire work to hone his skills and survive while he searched.

Knowing that people that survive conflict get better isn't meta. It's knowing that apples fall when dropped. It's knowing that people who play the stock market well tend to be rich.

horseboy
2009-11-24, 03:26 AM
then I better quit college and go flip some burgers because I will never ever amount to anything!
No, no. Go spend the summer killing 4-6 dogs, cats and "companion animals" for PETA a day. It'll teach you more about nuclear physics than 10 years of study.
[/sarcasm]



The number one rule of life saving is: Don't become a casualty. A lifesaver will save nobody when he's laying beside them. This is the most basic lesson taught to the beginning EMT's, Paramedics, Firefighters, and Police. There's a gunman taking potshots at people from the tower? You don't run out in the open and wave your hands.Of course, there's a difference between running around in the open and waving your hands and assaulting the tower with smoke bombs and your Taurus.

As far as stupid evil parties I've found the best way to avoid them is to
1) Not play in systems with Alignments. All too often they're just used as an excuse for bad behavior.
2) Be VERY exclusive about gaming with anyone under 23 or so. Too much "huhuhuhuh, evil is cool," in that age group.

For BBEG monologing, I like to use smart ass remarks, like "Hey, are you going to be going on much longer? Cause I gots to go pick up my baby momma." "I yawn violently and fight off the desire to snore" Or start miming "Invisible Wall" going on about plot contrivances. Of course, the pulling a cord over your head and going "WOOT-WOOOO! All aboard!" If he's going to force you to break character for the sake of "playing along" let it be known.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-24, 03:30 AM
Of course, there's a difference between running around in the open and waving your hands and assaulting the tower with smoke bombs and your Taurus.
Yes. The latter assumes you have smoke bombs and a Taurus.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 03:39 AM
No, no. Go spend the summer killing 4-6 dogs, cats and "companion animals" for PETA a day. It'll teach you more about nuclear physics than 10 years of study.
[/sarcasm]

Thats hilarious and awesome.
If it worked I totally would, btw.

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 05:16 AM
I cannot recommend it.

HamHam
2009-11-24, 11:02 AM
Evil Exception racial trait. Taint is a product of evil, and has nasty side effects that us hellbred folk don't like. :D

I see absolutely nothing in the text of the Evil Exception ability that would negate the following text from Heroes of Horror: "If a character's depravity score ever exceeds the severe taint threshold, he goes irretrievably mad. He gains the tainted raver template... and falls under the control of the DM."

Foryn Gilnith
2009-11-24, 11:17 AM
well... it is more then situational ethics... its "do i end the campaign by killing everyone because my character chose option A from a situational ethics debate knowing full well he will kill the entire party in vain"

Why is this his fault? If the BBEG kills the party for the actions of one, that's the GM's fault, not his. Don't blame him if his DM decides to be a railroading ****.

Aldizog
2009-11-24, 01:19 PM
Knowing that people that survive conflict get better isn't meta. It's knowing that apples fall when dropped. It's knowing that people who play the stock market well tend to be rich.
Surviving the battles is primarily a testament to having the skill, and only to a lesser degree a cause of it. If you want your PC to reverse that assumption, then your PC has to be aware of the game mechanics.

If I tell you the king's name is Conn of the Hundred Battles, and you assume he's a mighty warrior, do you think that surviving a hundred battles is the cause of his prowess or a result of it? If I tell you that Vitali Klitschko has won 38 fights, do you think he's gotten skilled by winning that many, or that he's won that many because he's so skilled? D&D clearly and explicitly puts the focus on battle survival as the cause of skill. But that's an artifact of game design.

As to what training can accomplish, I think it requires certain assumptions about the world and the genre of the game. If you are part of a company of warriors that gets slaughtered single-handedly by the BBEG, are you going to think "With enough training I can take him"? Maybe if it's wuxia or a similar genre, where training can make you superhuman. Greek myth? Probably not, since that was Achilles. Horror movie? Nope, but you might be able to research and find the weakness. D&D... well, what are the assumptions that PCs have about the world? If the BBEG is a red wyrm, and you barely survived the massacre of the kingdom's 6th-level elite guard, what then? In D&D, the BBEG often isn't someone just like you who got there by training really hard. IRL, we have human limitations and diminishing returns. One might have a remote chance of matching a grandmaster of fencing or chess, even if they continue to train while you do. What does a PC expect?

Tyndmyr
2009-11-24, 01:35 PM
I'm sorry, but this is a silly argument. No I don't know how a level one character would fight an optimized mage a dozen levels above them who is currently fully buffed and nuking commoners from the air. At that point they are really more of a force of nature than a villain. Still, assuming he has a limited number of nuke spells and he intends on using them all, if I can convince him to use even one of them on me instead of said commoners than I have saved at least one life.

This is not necessarily the case. He wouldn't be the BBEG if he didn't have plenty of resources to do evil. Not every baddy spends every single spell every single day slaughtering commoners. They keep stuff in reserve for people like you.

And frankly, at level one, you'd only soak a trivial spell at most, or more likely, simply die to the random damage as he aoes the commoners to death.

Your sacrifice is trivial, meaningless, and will not save anyone. It's far better to plan to end the threat permanently. And frankly, if your actions will lead to the death of your entire party for no gain, how is that a good act?

Stupidity is not good.

Doc Roc
2009-11-24, 01:38 PM
Why is this his fault? If the BBEG kills the party for the actions of one, that's the GM's fault, not his. Don't blame him if his DM decides to be a railroading ****.

Okay, I'm going to try not to pull a strawman, but I feel like this sets a bad precedent where people aren't punished for their actions. Should the villain just kill his character? I'd be basically okay with that, though it'd be weird.

Tyndmyr
2009-11-24, 01:47 PM
Depends on circumstances. If the rest of the party is trying to stop him, it might be possible that the villian won't target them.

If he clearly knows that they're all a party opposed to him and his goals, though, I wouldn't be surprised if he lobs off a nuke in their general direction.

As a player in that situation, I'd take any action necessary to ensure the safety of the party, including incapacitating the stupid paladin that wants to get us all killed for absolutely no reason.

Aldizog
2009-11-24, 01:54 PM
This is not necessarily the case. He wouldn't be the BBEG if he didn't have plenty of resources to do evil. Not every baddy spends every single spell every single day slaughtering commoners. They keep stuff in reserve for people like you.

And frankly, at level one, you'd only soak a trivial spell at most, or more likely, simply die to the random damage as he aoes the commoners to death.

Your sacrifice is trivial, meaningless, and will not save anyone. It's far better to plan to end the threat permanently. And frankly, if your actions will lead to the death of your entire party for no gain, how is that a good act?

Stupidity is not good.

But this whole scenario is poor campaign design. The use of a BBEG with this kind of power gap only works in fiction in a few situations. If training or a clever plan can enable one to defeat the BBEG, then any intelligent BBEG would kill potential threats. Would not leave angry survivors who might have chance of eventually killing him. Would often set schemes and traps to figure out who are the up-and-coming heroes. Release demons on villages and see who shows up to stop it, that kind of thing.

It can work in fiction when the BBEG has some reason for leaving the protagonist alive. The Shadows in B5 want to use Sheridan; Darth Vader wants to turn Luke; the Peacekeepers want the information in Crichton's head. Some BBEGs have forgotten their would-be nemesis (Thulsa Doom, Count Rugen), which requires the hero to rise in power and skill without ever doing anything noteworthy.

Sliver
2009-11-24, 01:58 PM
2) Be VERY exclusive about gaming with anyone under 23 or so. Too much "huhuhuhuh, evil is cool," in that age group.

I disagree with this.

You shouldn't assume someone is immature just because of his age. If you have trouble with playing along evil characters, you should examine all players you play with, and start with the assumption that they will play reasonably until they start showing you reasons to believe otherwise. Immature behavior or thoughts are not exclusive to the younger folk.

The other reason I disagree is that with immature fellow players, the alignment doesn't matter. Immature players can manage to ruin other's fun with any alignment they chose. They can take LG as allowing them to force others to act by how they see is right, or CN as being able to act randomly and destructively, as it is known that some abuse CN as evil but it doesn't say so. Assuming that their character won't ruin your fun just because it doesn't say evil on their character sheet may disappoint you in the future.

Mercenary Pen
2009-11-24, 02:00 PM
But this whole scenario is poor campaign design. The use of a BBEG with this kind of power gap only works in fiction in a few situations. If training or a clever plan can enable one to defeat the BBEG, then any intelligent BBEG would kill potential threats. Would not leave angry survivors who might have chance of eventually killing him. Would often set schemes and traps to figure out who are the up-and-coming heroes.

It can work in fiction when the BBEG has some reason for leaving the protagonist alive. The Shadows in B5 want to use Sheridan; Darth Vader wants to turn Luke; the Peacekeepers want the information in Crichton's head. Some BBEGs have forgotten their would-be nemesis (Thulsa Doom, Count Rugen), which requires the hero to rise in power and skill without ever doing anything noteworthy.

Got to agree with this. If the BBEG is remotely mortal, it's far better to merely have a smaller level gap and a planned escape route (with contingencies in case the dude dies) than throwing somebody that many levels higher at a group of PC's. Couple of reasons for this:

1- It's far better for the dramatic tension if the BBEG is still in the process of gaining power if the players will be running into him with any regularity.

2- If a BBEG several levels above the party gets done wrong and taken down, that ends up with the classic screw-up of handing your Lv5 Fighter a Vorpal Greatsword (or the equivalent with other magic items).

dsmiles
2009-11-24, 02:21 PM
No, no. Go spend the summer killing 4-6 dogs, cats and "companion animals" for PETA a day. It'll teach you more about nuclear physics than 10 years of study.
[/sarcasm]

PETA = People for Eating Tasty Animals



As far as stupid evil parties I've found the best way to avoid them is to
1) Not play in systems with Alignments. All too often they're just used as an excuse for bad behavior.
2) Be VERY exclusive about gaming with anyone under 23 or so. Too much "huhuhuhuh, evil is cool," in that age group.

Hey now, I've been playing longer than...mumblemumble, and sometimes, evil is cool. Sometimes you just need to let your dark side out. Mature players can do this responsibly, but age is not a factor in maturity. An evil party can have just as much fun (or more) than a good party, even though as players, we know that we will eventually suffer the consequences for our actions. My friends and I routinely break from playing a "good" party and play a truly evil party, usually every other campaign, or so. There is absolutely nothing wrong with playing an evil character from time to time.

Saph
2009-11-24, 02:46 PM
Got to agree with this. If the BBEG is remotely mortal, it's far better to merely have a smaller level gap and a planned escape route (with contingencies in case the dude dies) than throwing somebody that many levels higher at a group of PC's.

This was what I was getting at earlier. If the party is running into your BBEG, it's probably because you, as the DM, have arranged it that way. Which brings up the question of why you're doing it. What exactly do you achieve by having the uber-godlike BBEG commit various horrible acts while the PCs have to stand around and watch?

As a player, it gets on my nerves to be required to sit and watch something I've got no realistic chance of affecting. OK, the BBEG is powerful. OK, we can't beat him. I don't need to watch a cutscene to prove it. If I'm a 3rd-level character and I get told that that BBEG rides a Colossal-sized dragon, I already know that he's out of our party's range. Seeing a visual demonstration of it tells me nothing I didn't know already.

So I don't think having unstoppable BBEGs doing evil stuff in front of the party adds much to the game unless it's done really, really well. My preferred types of BBEG are:

a) A BBEG who's only marginally more powerful than the PCs. He or she can stand up to them in a straight fight but the PCs have a realistic shot at winning. This makes for more interesting battles because if the BBEG wins, it's more likely to be due to good strategy or planning, or PC mistakes - the PCs can think "damn, if that had gone differently we could have got him. We'll do better next time."

b) A BBEG who is above the PCs' level, but the PCs hardly ever see him, because he's frankly too important to waste time with lowbies. This is a good way to make a BBEG feel special - by the time the PCs finally meet him, they'll have heard about him from a dozen different sources and he'll be properly built up.

c) A BBEG who is above the PCs' level and who is actively and personally trying to kill them all. None of this "save them for later" crap, he knows your characters are potential threats and he's going to wipe them all out before you can do anything to mess up his plans. Only works if you have sensible players, but is one of the more effective ways of actually making a BBEG scary, since if the players make any mistakes their characters are dead. Obviously, you can't do this often, but it's guaranteed to make an impression.

Ormur
2009-11-24, 05:05 PM
I don't know, randomly having the BBEG popping up in front of the whole party to kick puppies to show them how evil he is isn't good but there can still be situations where you could meet the BBEG and shouldn't kill him (because he'd kill you). Maybe he's a villain with good publicity that you can encounter in the open helping old ladies over the street and you're trying to expose him. Maybe he wants you to join him, maybe you'll have a real chance at beating him soon even though he thrashed you now.

Last session the 1000 year old omnicidal colossal black dragon attacked my barony, slaughtered the peasants and left. My NG wizard teleported himself and a few clerics in to help out when he heard. An injured peasant asks to see me and I when I come he grabs my hand and addresses me in draconic. It turns out to be the dragon, using this as a way to get to me (we obviously did a good job of hiding ourselves). I was scared to death but he asked me to join him. I said I couldn't but he was certain I'd see the error of my ways eventually and gated himself out of the tent (WTF?). I had no chance of killing him at that point since my party was scattered at the moment and he obviously has 9th level spells versus my 6th. But maybe with help from the king and better preparation.

I think the DM has handled it very well even if it's not entierly realistic because every time I've glimpsed the BBEG or someone that I thought was him I've been really scared, always trying to think of the best way out of it (on one occasion we accidentally allowed a few thousand people to die because we couldn't think straight).

horseboy
2009-11-24, 05:53 PM
That's hilarious and awesome.
If it worked I totally would, btw.
Well, it does work in D&D.

Got to agree with this. If the BBEG is remotely mortal, it's far better to merely have a smaller level gap and a planned escape route (with contingencies in case the dude dies)
The best contingency is "If you don't want it killed, don't put it in front of PC's. That's one of the first rules of gaming a GM has to learn.


I disagree with this.

You shouldn't assume someone is immature just because of his age. Sure you can. They just don't have the life experience that brings maturity. There can be exemptions, but they are exemptions, not the rule.

If you have trouble with playing along evil characters, you should examine all players you play with, and start with the assumption that they will play reasonably until they start showing you reasons to believe otherwise. Immature behavior or thoughts are not exclusive to the younger folk.

The other reason I disagree is that with immature fellow players, the alignment doesn't matter. Immature players can manage to ruin other's fun with any alignment they chose. They can take LG as allowing them to force others to act by how they see is right, or CN as being able to act randomly and destructively, as it is known that some abuse CN as evil but it doesn't say so. Assuming that their character won't ruin your fun just because it doesn't say evil on their character sheet may disappoint you in the future.Actually I'd expect your LG behavior out of any character with a strong sense of morality. They have every right to be mortified by things they find to be morally repugnant.
As to the rest of it, see #1. "Evil" characters have to have an actual, factual reason to do what they do. There is no "I'm Evil, I'm going to cast fireball in the middle of a crowded town square, WEEEEEEE!" They need justification like "We need to slow down the enemy army so let's advance deep in enemy territory and blow up the factories full of civilians so we can cripple their munitions logistics." Likewise there is no CN so if they behave like an escaped asylum patient, that's where they're going to end up and with no "Why are you punishing my for playing my character?"

Foryn Gilnith
2009-11-24, 05:59 PM
Okay, I'm going to try not to pull a strawman, but I feel like this sets a bad precedent where people aren't punished for their actions. Should the villain just kill his character? I'd be basically okay with that, though it'd be weird.

IMO that's how it should go. The villain kills the offending character, everyone else skedaddles, the villain decides he's too lazy to chase these failures down.

horseboy
2009-11-24, 06:10 PM
IMO that's how it should go. The villain kills the offending character, everyone else skedaddles, the villain decides he's too lazy to chase these failures down.
Or he sends a goon squad of minions to chase them down for a fun chase scene.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 07:16 PM
Why is this his fault? If the BBEG kills the party for the actions of one, that's the GM's fault, not his. Don't blame him if his DM decides to be a railroading ****.

PC1: YOU EVIL FIEND! We shall stop you today!
BBEG: *looks over, sees a man in gleaming armor wielding a giant sword, near him stand several well armed and armored individuals, and several animals*
PC2-5: No, stop! what are you doing we are not ready to take him on yet
BBEG & all his henchmen make a listen check, one of them whispers overhearing that to the BBEG
PC3: Err, please disregard that sir, he is a bit touched in the head
PC1: You cowards, lets take him on now, we can't let that innocent villager die.
PC5: We can't fight him now, he will kill us, lets surprise him later when we are actually prepared
BBEG: Guards, kill them.

PC2-5: WE are not with him!
BBEG: Really? it sounded like you were, and that you intend to murder me later on when you get the chance.


However, if the DM is generous and is trying to teach the guy a lesson about being "Stupid Good" alignment. he could say "ok, the BBEG buys your story, only those who want to fight him fight him, so who wants to fight?"

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 08:23 PM
This thread took off in ways I never imagined. I was mostly concerned with the first two problems, and added the third almost as an afterthought, but for five pages it has been almost the only thing discussed.

taltamir
2009-11-24, 08:26 PM
because there isn't much to discuss about the first two.

You didn't like dragon age origins, and you are playing with a group that has a significant incompatibility with your views of morality (and thus you need to play with a different group.)

what more can we say?

Talakeal
2009-11-24, 08:39 PM
I didn't actually want to discuss Dragon Age (I get enough of that from my brother). I wanted to discuss how you deal with immoral quest givers / PCs without breaking up the party or having to find a new group.

Vitruviansquid
2009-11-24, 09:16 PM
I didn't actually want to discuss Dragon Age (I get enough of that from my brother). I wanted to discuss how you deal with immoral quest givers / PCs without breaking up the party or having to find a new group.

A. Coordinate the party beforehand so you know everyone's alignment.

B. Coordinate with the DM about what ESRB rating the campaign will have before starting.

C. Reroll a character that agrees with the rest of the party's alignments/personalities.

D. Roleplay what your character will do, come hell or high water.

E. If all else fails, leave the group or leave the campaign.

Zeful
2009-11-24, 09:23 PM
I didn't actually want to discuss Dragon Age (I get enough of that from my brother). I wanted to discuss how you deal with immoral quest givers / PCs without breaking up the party or having to find a new group.

You either change the character you are playing or you get a new group. Optionally, if you think the other character's would stop you if you interfered. Get yourself a Use Rope modifier, a big one. Then offer to take second watch, alone. Tie up and gag the appropriate PC, and then explain to him, In-character, how you disapprove of their actions and how you won't tolerate it in the future. Go into detail about how you can take them out, or inform others to their crimes. Then start brandishing a scythe and explain to the player how, with a completely mundane scythe, you can with a coup de grace, force a fort save that you can't make except on a 20 (16+4.5 times your strength, can get you a save in the 30's at level one (though with a bit of optimization, that can jump to a 50, easy)) And then act completely innocent with the rest afterwards.

You won't be better than the rest of the party, but hey that's life.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-25, 12:08 AM
PC1: YOU EVIL FIEND! We shall stop you today!
BBEG: *looks over, sees a man in gleaming armor wielding a giant sword, near him stand several well armed and armored individuals, and several animals*
PC2-5: No, stop! what are you doing we are not ready to take him on yet
BBEG & all his henchmen make a listen check, one of them whispers overhearing that to the BBEG
PC3: Err, please disregard that sir, he is a bit touched in the head
PC1: You cowards, lets take him on now, we can't let that innocent villager die.
PC5: We can't fight him now, he will kill us, lets surprise him later when we are actually prepared
BBEG: Guards, kill them.

PC2-5: WE are not with him!
BBEG: Really? it sounded like you were, and that you intend to murder me later on when you get the chance.


However, if the DM is generous and is trying to teach the guy a lesson about being "Stupid Good" alignment. he could say "ok, the BBEG buys your story, only those who want to fight him fight him, so who wants to fight?"

PC1: YOU EVIL FIEND! We shall stop you today!
BBEG: *looks over, sees a man in gleaming armor wielding a giant sword, near him stand several well armed and armored individuals, and several animals*
PC2-5: Now is not the time for bravery! That man could kill us all where we stand, and we'll have accomplished nothing. That is not our fight!
PC3: Err, please disregard that sir, he is a bit touched in the head
PC1: You cowards, lets take him on now, we can't let that innocent villager die.
PC5: It's not cowardice. There are townspeople who need our aid, after he leaves. How many people will we fail to help because you're a fool who wishes to impale himself on the swords of the unjust?
BBEG: You should probably listen to your friends, whelp.

It could just as easily play out like this, if your party is somewhat intelligent.

horseboy
2009-11-25, 12:27 AM
PC1: YOU EVIL FIEND! We shall stop you today!
BBEG: *looks over, sees a man in gleaming armor wielding a giant sword, near him stand several well armed and armored individuals, and several animals*
PC2-5: Now is not the time for bravery! That man could kill us all where we stand, and we'll have accomplished nothing. That is not our fight!
PC3: Err, please disregard that sir, he is a bit touched in the head
PC1: You cowards, lets take him on now, we can't let that innocent villager die.
PC5: It's not cowardice. There are townspeople who need our aid, after he leaves. How many people will we fail to help because you're a fool who wishes to impale himself on the swords of the unjust?
BBEG: You should probably listen to your friends, whelp.

It could just as easily play out like this, if your party is somewhat intelligent.

BBEG: Monologues while hovering over terrorized villager
PC1: *Picks up rock and beans BBEG on the nugget.
BBEG: Who threw that!?
Party: *Points at annoying CN Thief*
Two birds with one stone.

Totally Guy
2009-11-25, 05:34 AM
So I don't think having unstoppable BBEGs doing evil stuff in front of the party adds much to the game unless it's done really, really well. My preferred types of BBEG are:

a) A BBEG who's only marginally more powerful than the PCs. He or she can stand up to them in a straight fight but the PCs have a realistic shot at winning. This makes for more interesting battles because if the BBEG wins, it's more likely to be due to good strategy or planning, or PC mistakes - the PCs can think "damn, if that had gone differently we could have got him. We'll do better next time."

My personal favourite is the BBEG that is less powerful but has some kind of "You need me alive in order to stop the disaster!" gambit. Then he interacts far more with the PCs, they get to hear his view points and find out exactly what he's all about. But of course this is the hardest relationship to pull off in game. He actually needs to outwit the players in order to remain a threat.

Edit: I've had this succeed once. And end with the premature death of the villian three times. The successful villain became the player's favourite one. The dead ones.. I think were forgotten save for "Remember when we killed off the BBEG near the start!" which is okay but more work in long run to keep the campaign interesting.

aberratio ictus
2009-11-25, 02:59 PM
Adventurers are, by and large, not very nice people; typically the only difference between a knight in shining armor and a ruthless bandit is that the knight puts more polish on his armor. Most stories about heroes are, when you get down to them, about vicious killers who had good PR. D&D is designed as an escapist world where it's easy to gloss over the less pleasant aspects of being in a career that revolves around killing people, but some people prefer a grittier and more realistic game. Either find a way to dial back your rosy idealism, or find a group that more closely shares it.


Cynical is not the same as realistic. A game where everyone is a morally gray bastard is as disconnected from realism as one where everyone is clearly good or clearly evil. A realistic game should include characters from the whole spectrum - from saints to monsters, and everything in between. Saying that someone who prefers good characters and parties is a "rosy idealist" is a bit insulting.

Actually, using "idealist" as an insult is quite insulting, too. "Rainbows and unicorns"-Fantasy doesn't need idealists. Dark Fantasy does. I think it is quite disturbing how often people mistake idealism for naivety - the opposite is true in most cases.

Asheram
2009-11-25, 03:51 PM
Why is this his fault? If the BBEG kills the party for the actions of one, that's the GM's fault, not his. Don't blame him if his DM decides to be a railroading ****.

It's justifiable.
Beside, there are two little words that I've learnt and considered using a lot when things are grim.

"I yield!"

And for comedic effect

"Parlay?"

Beside, when the lone spearman charges the tank, then... Well.. Do you really like that lone spearman That much?

taltamir
2009-11-25, 03:56 PM
BBEG: You should probably listen to your friends, whelp.

Now that is some hardcore villian ball right there.
He obviously never read the evil overlord list.


BBEG: Monologues while hovering over terrorized villager
PC1: *Picks up rock and beans BBEG on the nugget.
BBEG: Who threw that!?
Party: *Points at annoying CN Thief*
Two birds with one stone.

hillarious


It's justifiable.
Beside, there are two little words that I've learnt and considered using a lot when things are grim.

"I yield!"

And for comedic effect

"Parlay?"

Beside, when the lone spearman charges the tank, then... Well.. Do you really like that lone spearman That much?

That... actually makes a whole lot of sense... "We surrender". Nice.

Asheram
2009-11-25, 04:06 PM
That... actually makes a whole lot of sense... "We surrender". Nice.

I've come to realise that both the GM and Players too often forget that there's always the option of surrendering.

PhoenixRivers
2009-11-25, 05:39 PM
Now that is some hardcore villian ball right there.
He obviously never read the evil overlord list.


It hardly detracts from what he can actually DO.

Note: I'm not saying that the PC's should watch the story unfold around them. I'm saying that YES, the party can encounter things stronger and weaker than them.

I, personally, as a player, find despawning enemies rather irritating.

When I was level 1, and on a caravan route, kobolds and orcs raided them at times.

When I was level 13, it was dragons and giants.

Wait a minute, did kobolds stop existing? Did giants exist when I was level 3?

In other words, I find status quo encounters to add a degree of believability to the game.

taltamir
2009-11-25, 06:50 PM
the BBEG HEARS you plotting to kill him "later", while he is executing an innocent villager-puppy. And tells you "listen to your friends" instead of killing the obvious threat, he is being stupid-evil.

I don't know what you are talking about PCs watching or BBEG "can do" has to do with that point.

Frankly I would prefer it if I never, EVER saw a BBEG doing something evil in a position where I couldn't just kill him if the alternative was him playing villian ball so hardcore. Whats next, tie me to the "deathtrap" and conveniently leave the room unguarded for the half hour it will take the blade saw to reach my body?

Asheram
2009-11-25, 07:33 PM
the BBEG HEARS you plotting to kill him "later", while he is executing an innocent villager-puppy. And tells you "listen to your friends" instead of killing the obvious threat, he is being stupid-evil.

I don't know what you are talking about PCs watching or BBEG "can do" has to do with that point.

Frankly I would prefer it if I never, EVER saw a BBEG doing something evil in a position where I couldn't just kill him if the alternative was him playing villian ball so hardcore. Whats next, tie me to the "deathtrap" and conveniently leave the room unguarded for the half hour it will take the blade saw to reach my body?

Imagine walking around, ruler of the land and all with your squad of goons... and suddenly you notice a few youngsters standing around, armed and all, and trying to look like they're not staring at you... You hear them whisper about killing you...

If I were said BBEG, I'd laugh at them, wave my fist at them and yell "Damn kids, get out of my kingdom!" And then watch them run... Potentially send my goons after them to chase them around and rough them up a little bit, depending on what mood I were in.

If they're not a threat, they're not a threat.