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View Full Version : [D&D mostly, but other games are fine]Adventurers and demi-gods.



Agrippa
2012-11-03, 09:01 PM
Posting in this thread (http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=56371&p=1294295#p1294295) made me think of something. Myths and legends are filled heroes capable of performing epic feats of skill. Often times slaughtering or driving off whole armies, slaying fearsome primordial beasts, fighting against gods and feats of athletic prowess. Some people (mostly old-school gamers) claim that this level of power is inapporpriate for PCs. Their arguement is that adventurers are already a cut above the average person and they don't need to be demi-godlike or rise to those heights. Also, they'd argue that characters that powerful are less fun than lower-powered characters like Conan, Cugel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eyes_of_the_Overworld), Farfhrd and the Gray Mouser (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fafhrd_and_the_Gray_Mouser) and Solomon Kane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon_Kane). I respectfully disagree. I'm okay with PCs growing into mythic-style heroes like Cu Chulainn ect. if that makes sense for the setting. If it doesn't make sense for the setting then there are no mythic tier heroes like that period, not even as background characters. So what are your views on this topic?

TheCountAlucard
2012-11-03, 09:12 PM
Some people (mostly old-school gamers) claim that this level of power is inappropriate for PCs.Exalted fans would disagree. :smalltongue:

Hercules might be a demigod, but he was also an adventurer, for sure.


I'm okay with PCs growing into mythic-style heroes like Cu Chulainn etc., if that makes sense for the setting.That's the key, there. :smalltongue:

Agrippa
2012-11-03, 09:16 PM
I mean't to type "inappropriate". I just forgot the "in".

The Dark Fiddler
2012-11-04, 10:20 AM
If it doesn't make sense for the setting then there are no mythic tier heroes like that period, not even as background characters. So what are your views on this topic?

Here's the answer, pretty much: it all depends on what kind of game you're playing, what themes you're covering, and what type of setting it is. Mouse Guard? You're mice. Dark Heresy? You're powerful, but there's things far beyond you that you'll almost never be able to touch, on both sides of the fight (Spehs Mehreens and Daemons, for example), and no amount of awesome tech will keep you from being a fragile human. In Scion, you're the child of a god and influence the world, while in Exalted you're powerful enough that gods are your main antagonists. And then there's Nobilis, where you ARE a god.

Really, it depends entirely on what game you're playing.

Agrippa
2012-11-04, 01:28 PM
Here's the answer, pretty much: it all depends on what kind of game you're playing, what themes you're covering, and what type of setting it is. Mouse Guard? You're mice. Dark Heresy? You're powerful, but there's things far beyond you that you'll almost never be able to touch, on both sides of the fight (Spehs Mehreens and Daemons, for example), and no amount of awesome tech will keep you from being a fragile human. In Scion, you're the child of a god and influence the world, while in Exalted you're powerful enough that gods are your main antagonists. And then there's Nobilis, where you ARE a god.

Really, it depends entirely on what game you're playing.

I know, I know. Thats why I said this is setting specific. I was just asking if people think that PC adventurers should ever reach demi-godlike power. I said sure, if demi-godlike heroes are found in that setting period. Now your basic Rogue Trader will never reach the height of a Space Marine, you could have a Space Marine PC, in theory.

Ozfer
2012-11-04, 05:57 PM
I think it could be fun once in a great while, but I honestly hate when PC's get that strong.

The Dark Fiddler
2012-11-04, 06:10 PM
I was just asking if people think that PC adventurers should ever reach demi-godlike power.

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you're looking for, then, because you just acknowledged that it works in certain games and doesn't in others. Are you asking if people like to play with that kind of power level?

Agrippa
2012-11-04, 06:24 PM
I'm afraid I'm not sure what you're looking for, then, because you just acknowledged that it works in certain games and doesn't in others. Are you asking if people like to play with that kind of power level?

Let me rephrase it. Do you think that PCs should be able to reach demi-godlike status period? I don't mean in gameworlds like Mouse Guard, I meant at all. Should their be any worlds in which PC adventurers attain demi-godlike power? Or should they at best be limited to the power level of the pulpish heroes I mentioned? Can they ever rise as high as Cu Chulainn and Achilles or at most Conan?

NichG
2012-11-04, 08:06 PM
For me, any particular absolute level of power isn't a problem really. I've played Nobilis and I've played a mortal in WoD, and a 0th level (1 NPC level) character in a D&D three-shot before, and all of those have their appeal.

The really important thing I feel is that the DM understands and plays to the power level that the game is taking place it. If the DM is trying to run a game at the power level of the Fellowship of the Ring, and the players figure out how to get the system to let them play Sauron, Morgoth, and Eru, its going to be a really crummy game unless the DM figures out the kinds of challenges that Sauron, Morgoth, and Eru should be facing and stops throwing challenges at the party more appropriate to Frodo. But if the DM runs with it and comes up with appropriate and interesting things that could challenge beings of such lofty power, then the game can be a blast.

The types of challenges should be different according to the power level. Having super-powerful characters that basically fight highly optimized, templated-up kobolds is not really the same as playing characters that are true demi-gods. Demi-gods should be doing things like physically holding a rent in the planes shut to prevent the armies of the apocalypse from setting foot on the world, stopping sea travel world-wide to starve the Great Maw of the Depths that consumes the souls of sailors who die at sea, standing in the way of the personification of Death itself and refusing to let it have someone that it covets, conning the lord of a layer of hell and stealing his realm out from under him, etc.

Characters-as-full-gods should be doing stuff like creating new races, trying to gain control of the fundamental energies of the cosmos, changing the laws of reality that they don't like, and dealing with a fair amount of philosophy - when you can do anything you can think of, the question of what should you do becomes a bit trickier.

As you ramp up the scale, the game naturally tends more towards the cerebral rather than towards visceral action, which can sometimes run counter to people's expectations. After all, if high level adventurers can basically get raised from the dead pretty trivially (granted, a setting-specific detail) then gods should be able to raise themselves from the dead and do all sorts of other tricks that make an individual fight less decisive. Its more about a sort of jenga tower of irreversible actions - one god does something that cannot be taken back, and the others have to figure out how to fix it without taking said thing back (and all the other things that cannot be taken back). Anything that is possible to take back will basically stalemate.

Water_Bear
2012-11-04, 08:28 PM
Personally, I think PCs should always be able to achieve God-Stomping power, but should never have it handed to them. Games with artificial "lol no" maximum power levels and NPCs who exist beyond that don't interest me, except as an experiment to get around those limits and say F-You to those NPCs. On the other hand, games that start out with too much power lose my interest because there isn't as much "room" to ascend and it feels too easy.

The games I like (D&D 3.5/Pathfinder, M;tAw/H;tV/nWoD Core, most superhero games) are the ones where a skilled player can build a human-scale PC into a virtual deity and have freedom to come up with clever ways around whatever "lol no" defenses NPCs might have. It's also why I don't like games in canon settings; the impenetrable plot armor on important NPCs or enforced inability to actually affect the world meaningfully crushes my will to play.

Knaight
2012-11-06, 12:16 AM
Let me rephrase it. Do you think that PCs should be able to reach demi-godlike status period? I don't mean in gameworlds like Mouse Guard, I meant at all. Should their be any worlds in which PC adventurers attain demi-godlike power? Or should they at best be limited to the power level of the pulpish heroes I mentioned? Can they ever rise as high as Cu Chulainn and Achilles or at most Conan?

I don't see any reason they should be blocked. Should the superhero genre just be entirely off limits? Should heroic mythology be off limits? I don't see a compelling reason why. For that matter, consider what Cu Chulainn and Achilles actually did, then consider some space opera - does it make sense for extremely high tech people in powered armor not to be able to pull off similar feats when dealing with low tech societies? If not, should we also ban space opera, which is one of the oldest genres represented by RPGs?

I'd say no. There's absolutely no reason to simply declare large swaths of fiction off limits, particularly when one considers that the very concept of the player character doesn't even make sense for a lot of games. If the genre is broad enough to encompass both D&D and Microscope, it can handle something like Amber.

Gamer Girl
2012-11-06, 12:57 AM
Myths and legends are filled heroes capable of performing epic feats of skill. Often times slaughtering or driving off whole armies, slaying fearsome primordial beasts, fighting against gods and feats of athletic prowess. Some people (mostly old-school gamers) claim that this level of power is inapporpriate for PCs.

The problem is that your playing a game with a chance of either success or failure. Assuming you play the game by the random chance rules of reality, anything can happen in a game.

A myth or legend is a manufactured story and the author simply says whatever they want to happen. And, amazingly, the author will pick a story that has the best chance to sell and be popular. This is why you don't see, say a Hercules story where he trips and falls down and dies.

It's exactly the same way today with fictional stories. Batman is just a normal guy(yea, who was trained as a ninja or whatever) yet he will always win and will never loose. And why no bad guy will ever think of say, shooting Batman with a gun.(Yea, I know Batman has super armor, but why don't the bad guys just shoot him in the head where his costume stupidly does not cover his mouth....)

Now, for at least some gamers, the idea of an auto win game is boring. After all, if you know you will defeat the great evil one, why even bother to play the game? Though some gamers love this type of auto win game.

And finally, note that most myths and legends are horrible storytelling. Everyone just thinks they are 'so great' as they are old and 'everyone else' says they are great. Most stories have the 'so called hero' doing something lame like ''he drops a rock on the bad guys foot and distracts them''.

Geostationary
2012-11-06, 01:54 AM
The problem is that your playing a game with a chance of either success or failure. Assuming you play the game by the random chance rules of reality, anything can happen in a game.

...

Now, for at least some gamers, the idea of an auto win game is boring. After all, if you know you will defeat the great evil one, why even bother to play the game? Though some gamers love this type of auto win game.


This isn't really true. Case in point: Nobilis. The system is both diceless and nonrandom, but at no point is your victory assured. Yes, if no one opposes an action you take, you're generally going to succeed at it. Yes, if you're totally unopposed and not taking a low-level, purely mortal action, you will succeed, period- you're a god. Failure is beneath you. However, if someone gets in the way, there's no telling where things will go. You are also not infallible- if you rearrange the geography of Europe to prove a point, you will be left with a new Europe to deal with. If you kill the parents of your prior ally, they'll probably be rather pissed. You have world-shaking power and can trigger massive shifts in the nature of the cosmos, but you have to deal with the consequences of your actions.

If you've given them a game where they're assured perfect victory, no stings attached, you've failed somewhere, unless they've played everything with perfection and grace, thereby earning that end.


A myth or legend is a manufactured story and the author simply says whatever they want to happen. And, amazingly, the author will pick a story that has the best chance to sell and be popular. This is why you don't see, say a Hercules story where he trips and falls down and dies.

Conversely, they've survived because they are popular and memorable; besides, Heracles tripping to his death doesn't make for a good or interesting story, whereas being poisoned by his love, who was tricked an old enemy is far more interesting to tell tales about. The more dramatic story is simply more interesting to tell, unless you want stories about normal or logical things- but these are not those stories. They're tales of myths and legends, monsterous gods and fearsome beasts- narrative causality is in full swing and dying because of just tripping one day is both boring and beneath them.


And finally, note that most myths and legends are horrible storytelling. Everyone just thinks they are 'so great' as they are old and 'everyone else' says they are great. Most stories have the 'so called hero' doing something lame like ''he drops a rock on the bad guys foot and distracts them''.
There are very few stories that don't sound stupid when distilled to a single sentence, which makes for a fun party game. You'll need to be more specific in your complaints and arguments as to why myth and folktale are "horrible storytelling". They persist to this day in part because they have to be good, at some level, to continue being told.

Gamer Girl
2012-11-06, 03:38 AM
This isn't really true. Case in point: Nobilis.

Well, I can't comment on some random game I've never heard of, so I'll use sports as an example. One reason sports are popular is that they are random and anything can happen. Some games are shut outs of like 50 to 0, some are neck and neck right up until the final seconds, and sometimes one team will make a second half come back and win. But if people were told ''Oh the Browns are going to win the game'', then few would bother to watch. Simply put, it's no fun if you know one team will auto win. (You can experience this with kids sports where the coaches pick the winning teams to make sure ''all teams(and kids) win''. The adults(but not the kids) will be told ''the bears will win this game''. So none of the adults cheer or react to the game at all, as they already know the out come and it's pointless as even if the Lions get fifteen home runs in a row, the Bears will still automatically win)



Conversely, they've survived because they are popular and memorable; besides, Heracles tripping to his death doesn't make for a good or interesting story, whereas being poisoned by his love, who was tricked an old enemy is far more interesting to tell tales about.

That is the big difference. In a (well, classical Old School, hard core reality type) RPG a character can fail. But a hero in a myth or legend can't fail. In a good hero story, the hero never rolls a ''1''. But this can happen in a game.



There are very few stories that don't sound stupid when distilled to a single sentence, which makes for a fun party game. You'll need to be more specific in your complaints and arguments as to why myth and folktale are "horrible storytelling". They persist to this day in part because they have to be good, at some level, to continue being told.

If you follow the hype of the myths and folktales, then you don't need any examples. Just look at the part of how the hero does their awesome automatic win .

They simply persist as everyone loves a good hero story....and everyone likes the story as they know it's fiction and real life is not like that.

TuggyNE
2012-11-06, 04:17 AM
Well, I can't comment on some random game I've never heard of, so I'll use sports as an example. One reason sports are popular is that they are random and anything can happen. Some games are shut outs of like 50 to 0, some are neck and neck right up until the final seconds, and sometimes one team will make a second half come back and win. But if people were told ''Oh the Browns are going to win the game'', then few would bother to watch. Simply put, it's no fun if you know one team will auto win. (You can experience this with kids sports where the coaches pick the winning teams to make sure ''all teams(and kids) win''. The adults(but not the kids) will be told ''the bears will win this game''. So none of the adults cheer or react to the game at all, as they already know the out come and it's pointless as even if the Lions get fifteen home runs in a row, the Bears will still automatically win)



That is the big difference. In a (well, classical Old School, hard core reality type) RPG a character can fail. But a hero in a myth or legend can't fail. In a good hero story, the hero never rolls a ''1''. But this can happen in a game.



If you follow the hype of the myths and folktales, then you don't need any examples. Just look at the part of how the hero does their awesome automatic win .

They simply persist as everyone loves a good hero story....and everyone likes the story as they know it's fiction and real life is not like that.

So, let me see if I've got this right. People are bored by easy auto-wins in real life, but they super-love easy auto-wins in stories and those are the ones everyone remembers and retells and considers classic except of course for the mature people: the few, the proud, the old-school gamers?

I have to take particular exception to the idea that people love Boring Invincible Heroes; for a demonstration of the well-known flaws and bad reactions those have, just go to the TV Tropes page of that name. I also disagree that the majority of stories actually deal with protagonists who can never fail; for example, the Greek myths are full of dorks who did something wrong and ended up as a statue, or a cow, or condemned to six months out of every year living underground, or chained to a mountain with an eagle eating at them, or whatever. The interesting part is not pointless failures*, or for that matter boring invincible successes, but failures with a long string of near-avoidances (tragedy) or success after many near-misses (heroic stories), or some mixture of those.

*The apparently-formative The Seven Geases is, in my opinion, an irritating shaggy-dog story with a thick layer of moderately-interesting fantasy travelogue. (I will never get back the hour or so I spent reading it.)

The Dark Fiddler
2012-11-06, 06:24 AM
That is the big difference. In a (well, classical Old School, hard core reality type) RPG a character can fail. But a hero in a myth or legend can't fail. In a good hero story, the hero never rolls a ''1''. But this can happen in a game.

Oedipus says hi, just for one example. Hell, Hercules had plenty of failures and tragedies in his life. I disagree with your assertion that the hero never "rolls a 1"; it's just that the stories that survive have the hero overcoming adverse odds.

Geostationary
2012-11-06, 09:27 AM
Well, I can't comment on some random game I've never heard of, so I'll use sports as an example. One reason sports are popular is that they are random and anything can happen. Some games are shut outs of like 50 to 0, some are neck and neck right up until the final seconds, and sometimes one team will make a second half come back and win. But if people were told ''Oh the Browns are going to win the game'', then few would bother to watch. Simply put, it's no fun if you know one team will auto win. (You can experience this with kids sports where the coaches pick the winning teams to make sure ''all teams(and kids) win''. The adults(but not the kids) will be told ''the bears will win this game''. So none of the adults cheer or react to the game at all, as they already know the out come and it's pointless as even if the Lions get fifteen home runs in a row, the Bears will still automatically win)

Nobilis, along with Amber Diceless and Exalted, is one of the archetypal high-powered rpgs, in which you essentially play some flavor of god.

As for your example, it makes no sense- for one, sports are not all that random in the scheme of things- some teams are just better than others. Also, the players would be in the position of the kids, ignorant of the predetermined result thereby ignoring the issue you present. I also disagree that 1)just because you have deific power, the outcome is assured (it's not, and if it is, it shouldn't), and 2)that knowing the outcome ruins the fun of it. Most movies you know what's going to happen because they generally follow some archetypal story or genre conventions, and if they don't you can generally extrapolate from the first part of the movie. The fun lies in the journey to the end, not the end in and of itself- yes, I know the heist will succeed in the end, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the heist itself and the inevitable complications that arise, forcing them to change up their plans. See Inception for examples on this- you know Cobb will succeed, you know that there will be complications in the heist, but that doesn't detract from your enjoyment of the film.


That is the big difference. In a (well, classical Old School, hard core reality type) RPG a character can fail. But a hero in a myth or legend can't fail. In a good hero story, the hero never rolls a ''1''. But this can happen in a game.



If you follow the hype of the myths and folktales, then you don't need any examples. Just look at the part of how the hero does their awesome automatic win .

They simply persist as everyone loves a good hero story....and everyone likes the story as they know it's fiction and real life is not like that.

Quotes like this make me wonder if you've read much myth or folklore. So, Heracles, that guy you brought up? Know why he even did the trials in the first place? He was tricked into going into a murderous bloodrage and killing his entire family. He did all that heroic stuff to atone for his sins in the eyes of the gods. His story is also a tragedy. Heracles dies at the end because he was tricked by his wife, who in turn was tricked by an enemy of Heracles'. Heros fail. They failed all the time in myth and folklore, but what made them memorable is that they kept going on to achieve incredible things, even if they died in the end.

CarpeGuitarrem
2012-11-06, 09:46 AM
As has been noted, high-powered and mythic characters do fail. The key is, they fail in one of two ways.

First, epic failure. In that...when they fail, it's epic. They may auto-win steamroll over a lot of mundane things, but when the chips are down, it's no guarantee, maybe a 50/50 at best, and failure means something earth-shattering. If you're playing mythic heroes against mortal challenges, you're doing it wrong. The mythic hero isn't the one who wins a fight against a brawny orc. The mythic hero is the one who singlehandedly takes on an army of orcs, and wins. Failure means that those orcs ransack a village and raze it to the ground.

Second, spiritual/emotional failure. The hero's spirit is often no more infallible than one of our own; that's what makes most mythic heroes so enjoyable. No matter their awesome powers, they remain very human. See the example of Heracles above. In fact, Greek myth is filled with this. Hubris and impulsiveness, very human vices, continue to undermine the mythic heroes.

*desires to draw upon Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann as an example...*

Gamer Girl
2012-11-06, 10:53 AM
So, let me see if I've got this right. People are bored by easy auto-wins in real life, but they super-love easy auto-wins in stories and those are the ones everyone remembers and retells and considers classic except of course for the mature people: the few, the proud, the old-school gamers?

It's more accurate to say the few, the proud Others who are not part of the Masses. The Masses love auto win stories. They love to pretend they don't know it's an auto win story and be surprised by the ending. Just look at popular fiction stories. I have not seen Skyfall yet, gosh I wonder if James Bond won? Gosh will Iron Man beat The Mandarin in Iron Man 3?



Oedipus says hi, just for one example. Hell, Hercules had plenty of failures and tragedies in his life. I disagree with your assertion that the hero never "rolls a 1"; it's just that the stories that survive have the hero overcoming adverse odds.

It's not that 'epic fail' stories don't exist, we are talking about the hero stories. People don't dream of being Aceton and being killed by their dogs, people dream of being Hercules and auto killing monsters. And the epic fail stories are more for the Others, not the Masses: the most popular stories are the awesome hero ones.


As for your example, it makes no sense- for one, sports are not all that random in the scheme of things- some teams are just better than others.

But it's not automatic. Even if you take 'Awesome Undefeated Team' vs 'The Losers'....the Losers can still win.(in fact, being undefeated is often seen as a curse).



and 2)that knowing the outcome ruins the fun of it.

While some people would love to play a game, gamble or play a sport if they knew they would automatically win, that does not work for everyone. Some people want to win fair and square. And some people would just stand there, after all why do anything as they already won. And when you play against another person or group or team, then someone has to loose. And the auto loosers have no reason to do anything: they have already lost.

Movies don't count as your not participating. Try and play a game where you are told 'group A will auto win' and see how much fun the 'journey' is while you sit there and auto loose.



They failed all the time in myth and folklore, but what made them memorable is that they kept going on to achieve incredible things, even if they died in the end.

That's not exactly what we are talking about. After all if Hercules was an RPG character, you know the player would whine and cry and say the 12 Labors are Railroading. And very few players can accept their character failing at anything. They have to win, win, win. Plenty of players would just give up if faces with tragedy to their character like Hercules(''oh, guys lets not play Greek RPG but switch to Boot Hill instead"). Even if you cheat and tell the player ''we are going to put your character through tragedy to make an epic story'', few players would go along with it for ever long(''Ok, my character is sort of sad now...can he be super awesome now?"").

Geostationary
2012-11-06, 02:31 PM
It's more accurate to say the few, the proud Others who are not part of the Masses. The Masses love auto win stories. They love to pretend they don't know it's an auto win story and be surprised by the ending. Just look at popular fiction stories. I have not seen Skyfall yet, gosh I wonder if James Bond won? Gosh will Iron Man beat The Mandarin in Iron Man 3?

It's not that 'epic fail' stories don't exist, we are talking about the hero stories. People don't dream of being Aceton and being killed by their dogs, people dream of being Hercules and auto killing monsters. And the epic fail stories are more for the Others, not the Masses: the most popular stories are the awesome hero ones.

...This is bull, but I have a long enough post as-is.



While some people would love to play a game, gamble or play a sport if they knew they would automatically win, that does not work for everyone. Some people want to win fair and square. And some people would just stand there, after all why do anything as they already won. And when you play against another person or group or team, then someone has to loose. And the auto loosers have no reason to do anything: they have already lost.

This is not how games or rpgs work. So, we start at the beginning. So, you're probably going to win. This doesn't mean you should just stand around and do nothing, as you have not won yet. You don't know the nature of your success. There are still chances for you to fail. There are still times for you to falter on the road to victory. You may win, but what costs did you incur to get there? The beginning and ends of the story are bookends to the story itself, and in an interactive medium, you can always change the course of the story, unless the person running it goes out of their way to stop you. You're there to tell the story of how something came to pass- what's important is what you did to cause this thing to happen, not just "...and then they slew the evil overlord. The End." Even if you know that you will lose, that doesn't stop you from struggling to change this fate, from trying to shape the form of your failure- you may lose the battle, but that could be used as a set up for future victories. Viewing a story as just the beginning followed by "You lose" or "you win" is short-sighted at best, and erroneous throughout.



Movies don't count as your not participating. Try and play a game where you are told 'group A will auto win' and see how much fun the 'journey' is while you sit there and auto loose.
Luckily, I have a game that has a mechanic that can do something similar. Let's say that it is declared that "[Character X] will die by my hands". Due to the mechanic in question (it's more complicated than this, but the discussion it requires is rather jargony and lengthy for right now), this will happen. Period. To deny it is to be destroyed for the blasphemy of denying this truth; however, Character X can still fight. They will eventually lose, but they can change the nature of their failure and compliance into something far more productive than "Oh, I will die in the future. Woe is me, what's even the point?". They may lose the fight, but they can still fight.


That's not exactly what we are talking about. After all if Hercules was an RPG character, you know the player would whine and cry and say the 12 Labors are Railroading. And very few players can accept their character failing at anything. They have to win, win, win. Plenty of players would just give up if faces with tragedy to their character like Hercules(''oh, guys lets not play Greek RPG but switch to Boot Hill instead"). Even if you cheat and tell the player ''we are going to put your character through tragedy to make an epic story'', few players would go along with it for ever long(''Ok, my character is sort of sad now...can he be super awesome now?"").
No, I don't know that. Just because you're defaulting to the lowest common denominator doesn't mean that all players will do that, let alone most. You've also set it up just to make the point.

Consider it like this:So, Player X has accidentally murdered his family in a fit of rage, and the gods are not happy, not to mention his character. So I come to him and ask, "How would you like to make up for your sins? How would you like to endeavour before the gods themselves to prove your worth? It'll be difficult, there will be challenges, but if you follow through, you shall be rewarded." Tell them that horrible things happened, but you can do 12 impossible challenges to be redeemed- and be pretty badass while doing it. Get them engaged in the story being woven around their character, so that they want the noble-albeit-dickish Heracles to be redeemed. If they aren't interested, so be it. If they think this is a cool idea, even better. If they have their own plans for how Heracles will redeem himself, or how he'll get back at those who caused the problem in the first place, or something else entirely, then you've succeeded in getting them interested in telling their character's story. Even if they end up failing in the worst possible way, if they're engaged and enjoy the tale being told, you've still won.

You have this strange idea that "auto-wins" and losses are common things in stories and rpgs, completely ignoring the fact that it can only be automatic if the GM makes it so, and if the players are totally passive in the face of this fact. You're ignoring that there's this whole story between the beginning and end where all the important stuff happens, shaping the nature of the ending as it progresses. Victory and failure don't occur in a vacuum.

Knaight
2012-11-06, 02:39 PM
If you follow the hype of the myths and folktales, then you don't need any examples. Just look at the part of how the hero does their awesome automatic win.
Have you read these myths? The vast majority of mythical heroes end up dead eventually. Cu Chulain ended up trapped between two vows that would both kill him if he broke them. Heracles ends up on a pyre covered in the poisonous blood of something he killed. Then there's stuff like Romance of the Three Kingdoms - there were a lot of much larger than life characters in it, and probably 95% were dead by the end of the book.

Moreover, it's never a matter of an automatic win, it's a matter of the questions being answered by the dice being different. Guan Yu isn't going to get captured by some random army, period. Rolling to see if he does is pointless. However, rolling to see if he is able to get through that random army in time to save Liu Bei from Sun Qian? That's very much within the scope of the questions asked, and that could go either way. Even if he fights his way through the entire army, it's a failure if it takes long enough that Sun Qian is able to smash Liu Bei and take a bunch of his land.

In short, the power level of the characters has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they succeed at their tasks. It merely has to do with what their tasks are, what is a meaningful obstacle and what is a meaningful threat, and what is at stake regarding failure. To use Romance of the Three Kingdoms as an example again - a bunch of random soldiers are generally not a meaningful threat to Guan Yu or Zhao Zilong or Dian Wei. They can be a meaningful obstacle to a task however. Meanwhile the likes of Yuan Shu is meaningfully threatened by a bunch of random soldiers, but is also a meaningful threat to the likes of Guan Yu.

Then there's the matter of where a character can be meaningfully ended - expecting to win in direct warfare against Lu Bu or Dong Zhuo is idiocy. That doesn't mean that they couldn't be undermined by treachery, and that did eventually bring both of them low. Even the characters who are essentially invincible in certain respects throughout high powered stories have weaknesses. Take Sun Wukong - there is no killing of Sun Wukong, it isn't going to happen. Driving Sun Wukong to despair until he essentially abandons the world and stops getting in the way? That might well be doable.

It's more accurate to say the few, the proud Others who are not part of the Masses. The Masses love auto win stories. They love to pretend they don't know it's an auto win story and be surprised by the ending. Just look at popular fiction stories. I have not seen Skyfall yet, gosh I wonder if James Bond won? Gosh will Iron Man beat The Mandarin in Iron Man 3?
You're ignoring the presence of every other question that these stories ask, such as "will this sympathetic side character survive?", or "will the hero succeed in their less notable goals?", or "how much will these victories cost?". While I can't really provide any details on these specific stories for a few reasons (I haven't seen them, and am not interested enough to pick up on a rough synopsis), I can state with some confidence that they are there. Then there is the small matter of other films - Flight came out recently, and the core questions in it were "what will the alcoholism of the pilot cost him" and "will the pilot go to jail, or will he tarnish the memory of his dead friend to avoid it". A perfect victory is impossible, and there is guaranteed to be some loss.

I'd note, also, that you chose to use action films for your example. The action film is probably the genre and medium combination that best fits your thesis, and even selecting for it there are obvious problems. It would only get more difficult if you were to use, say, literature instead.


And some people would just stand there, after all why do anything as they already won. And when you play against another person or group or team, then someone has to loose. And the auto loosers have no reason to do anything: they have already lost.

By your logic, there's no point ever rereading a book, as all that matters is surprise and the unknown. This is absurd. Stories convey messages, they allow the interplay of ideas, and these nuances are far more important than whether or not something is surprising.

As for the auto losers never doing anything - I disagree. One of the games I made is one in which the PCs are eventually doomed to failure. It will end with their execution, and everything they do will be lost. If this meant that nobody would have any reason to do anything, this game would never attract interest, yet for whatever reason it has. The same thing can be said about most games of Microscope I've played. The ending is known, and it's generally not good (e.g. civilization dies due to a disease brought in by an asteroid). Yet for some reason these games are still played. It's almost as if there is more to a story than the ending.

Gamer Girl
2012-11-06, 04:16 PM
This is not how games or rpgs work. So, we start at the beginning. So, you're probably going to win. This doesn't mean you should just stand around and do nothing, as you have not won yet.

I'm not talking about a 'normal game' where the player might probably win. I'm talking about an Auto Win game. Where the DM ''has a story to tell'' and as such has to manipulate the world to tell the story. The characters can't die or even be side tracked in the Dark Forest as the DM wants the game to get to the city of Slavehold as they can portray there awesome allegory on slavery. In the more 'heroic' side, it's where the Dm has the beholder only attack with the weak eye rays like the wound one.




You don't know the nature of your success. There are still chances for you to fail. There are still times for you to falter on the road to victory.

Again, in an Auto Win game, you can't fail.



Even if you know that you will lose, that doesn't stop you from struggling to change this fate, from trying to shape the form of your failure- you may lose the battle, but that could be used as a set up for future victories.

If you know you will loose the game, playing is pointless. You can't change the fate of ''you loose''. And most games if the players loose, it ends the campaign.






Consider it like this:So, Player X has accidentally murdered his family in a fit of rage, and the gods are not happy, not to mention his character. So I come to him and ask, "How would you like to make up for your sins?

Your talking about the good role playing player, I'm not. I'm talking about the average or bad role players. The ones that don't care about 'stories'.



You have this strange idea that "auto-wins" and losses are common things in stories and rpgs, completely ignoring the fact that it can only be automatic if the GM makes it so, and if the players are totally passive in the face of this fact. You're ignoring that there's this whole story between the beginning and end where all the important stuff happens, shaping the nature of the ending as it progresses. Victory and failure don't occur in a vacuum.

Of course the GM is involved, the good buddy just a player type DM. The DM is your best buddy and wants everyone to be happy. So you know you will Auto Win the game. Now some players love the auto win style (''Every arrow missed my character? Cool!") But some players get bored when they auto win all the time. The game gets very boring and pointless if you know you will win. After all it's no challenge when anything you do will win the game(''We sit around the campfire for day 23, and, oh, what? we killed the dragon and saved the princess, Cool!").


Have you read these myths? The vast majority of mythical heroes end up dead eventually.

Remember the focus of the thread is the ''awesome hero stuff'' the character in a myth does....not every single tiny detail.



You're ignoring the presence of every other question that these stories ask, such as "will this sympathetic side character survive?", or "will the hero succeed in their less notable goals?", or "how much will these victories cost?"

This does not apply to RPGs much. When a gamer talks about an awesome hero character they will pretty much just talk about combat and what they killed and maybe a little what deed they did. But few gamers would tell you the story of how their ''sympathetic character survived the horrors of war''. And just about no gamer cares about cost ''I killed Demorgon with my bare hands, and oh, he did eat the city of Happy Haven, but oh well."



I'd note, also, that you chose to use action films for your example. The action film is probably the genre and medium combination that best fits your thesis, and even selecting for it there are obvious problems. It would only get more difficult if you were to use, say, literature instead.

Well, we are talking about action/adventure games. But literature works too. For example:Sherlock Holmes always solves the crime.



By your logic, there's no point ever rereading a book, as all that matters is surprise and the unknown. This is absurd. Stories convey messages, they allow the interplay of ideas, and these nuances are far more important than whether or not something is surprising.

Not at all. When you read a book, your just an observer. You just want to see how the story comes out. And when you read a book, you know the good guy will win, but you can still be entertained by the story. But games don't work like this. The whole point of a game is you might win or loose. You play a game as a challenge, to attempt to win. Take bowling: you try to score the highest you can, but if you were told you must play bumper bowling it becomes pointless.



As for the auto losers never doing anything - I disagree. One of the games I made is one in which the PCs are eventually doomed to failure. It will end with their execution, and everything they do will be lost. If this meant that nobody would have any reason to do anything, this game would never attract interest, yet for whatever reason it has.

Well, I know nothing of all the other games out there, but i'd say the 'auto win' people would flock to such games. After they auto win for the 101 st time, it gets boring. So they look for something different.

Do the PCs know they are doomed? Do they know how pointless the game is? Or do you keep that a secret?

Kadzar
2012-11-06, 05:27 PM
I think part of the argument in this thread comes down to one thing: disagreement about roleplaying games are on a fundamental level.

The modern view of roleplaying games is that they are a collaborative story that is played out by the players. By this view, it doesn't really matter who wins or loses, because that's not the point.

But the original view of roleplaying games, as far as I can tell, is that they were meant to be games, or more accurately, challenges. By this view, it very much does matter who wins or loses, because that is entirely the point.

Now, neither viewpoint is any better than the other, but they will very much frame one's values in a way that will seem like madness if the other side doesn't understand and accept them.

Geostationary
2012-11-06, 05:29 PM
I'm not talking about a 'normal game' where the player might probably win. I'm talking about an Auto Win game. Where the DM ''has a story to tell'' and as such has to manipulate the world to tell the story. The characters can't die or even be side tracked in the Dark Forest as the DM wants the game to get to the city of Slavehold as they can portray there awesome allegory on slavery. In the more 'heroic' side, it's where the Dm has the beholder only attack with the weak eye rays like the wound one.

Again, in an Auto Win game, you can't fail.

If you limit yourself to games with terrible railroady GMs, than yes, you may not like how they run the game. For the rest of us, mild competence and a willingness to work with the players suffices to avoid this problem. You keep arguing with this strawman of a game- yes, we agree that it's bad. However, that's not the kind of game we're talking about, and in fact teach each other to specifically avoid.


If you know you will loose the game, playing is pointless. You can't change the fate of ''you loose''. And most games if the players loose, it ends the campaign.
First, loosing=/=dying. It often does, but in many games it may not. Second, "loosing" is nebulous and not at all informative as to what actually happened- you can lose the same fight in many completely different ways, with very different consequences- yes, you lost, but you still fought. How do you think horror games are even a thing? You don't generally go into a game of Call of Cthulu or Don't Rest Your Head expecting to come out alive or sane.


Your talking about the good role playing player, I'm not. I'm talking about the average or bad role players. The ones that don't care about 'stories'.

Of course the GM is involved, the good buddy just a player type DM. The DM is your best buddy and wants everyone to be happy. So you know you will Auto Win the game. Now some players love the auto win style (''Every arrow missed my character? Cool!") But some players get bored when they auto win all the time. The game gets very boring and pointless if you know you will win. After all it's no challenge when anything you do will win the game(''We sit around the campfire for day 23, and, oh, what? we killed the dragon and saved the princess, Cool!").

So, there are two basic ways to play these games here- to win, which is the methodology you appear to endorse, or to tell a story, which is what I tend towards. You get all in a fluster over "Oh, I'm going to automatically win! this is terrible and there is no point in this game!" First, unless you're with the aforementioned terrible GM, losing is still an option. Second, the story-oriented approach is more along the lines of "That's fine. Now what terrible things will I have to do and sacrifice to get what I want? How difficult can I make this for myself to tell an awesome story?" I view a lot of these games as collaborative narrative building- so sue me. It works well enough.
As for the GM: of course they're involved. They run the game. They have to be privy to what's going on and the player's desires to run an enjoyable game, and so that things actually exist in it. If your players out and say they want an assured win, either go along or leave, as many have no interest in such a game. For the rest of us, our job is to make their character's lives more difficult as we (and sometimes they) see fit, and construct the world. Your arguments seem to be built around having a comically inept GM and terrible players- I think you sell a lot of players short when it comes to deriving fun from roleplaying or storytelling.




This does not apply to RPGs much. When a gamer talks about an awesome hero character they will pretty much just talk about combat and what they killed and maybe a little what deed they did. But few gamers would tell you the story of how their ''sympathetic character survived the horrors of war''. And just about no gamer cares about cost ''I killed Demorgon with my bare hands, and oh, he did eat the city of Happy Haven, but oh well."
Honest question: How many games outside of D&D have you looked into or played? Not all games revolve around murdering the hell out of people; hell, one of my favorite memories during Exalted was when a friend of mine managed to make an ally through her compassion towards his troubles.



Well, we are talking about action/adventure games. But literature works too. For example:Sherlock Holmes always solves the crime.

Not at all. When you read a book, your just an observer. You just want to see how the story comes out. And when you read a book, you know the good guy will win, but you can still be entertained by the story. But games don't work like this. The whole point of a game is you might win or loose. You play a game as a challenge, to attempt to win. Take bowling: you try to score the highest you can, but if you were told you must play bumper bowling it becomes pointless.
See prior comment on two approaches to gaming. You claim the second is invalid, I say bull.



Well, I know nothing of all the other games out there, but i'd say the 'auto win' people would flock to such games. After they auto win for the 101 st time, it gets boring. So they look for something different.

Do the PCs know they are doomed? Do they know how pointless the game is? Or do you keep that a secret?
If you knew someone would die no matter what they did next week, would you expect them to mope around going "This is all pointless. I'm doomed, and there's nothing worth doing with my life in this short time."? No. The PCs should not be any different. They're some of the people most likely to say "No, screw that. I want to LIVE."- especially the heroic, larger than life ones we started talking about here. If they fail? So be it. But, if they somehow pull through and beat all the odds, surviving their ordeal? That's all the sweeter.

Also, ninja'd by Kadzar. I need to keep these shorter.

Knaight
2012-11-06, 06:25 PM
Your talking about the good role playing player, I'm not. I'm talking about the average or bad role players. The ones that don't care about 'stories'.
In my experience, this phenomenon is limited to a few games. People who cut their teeth on D&D often start this way; I'd argue that D&D encourages it to a large extent. However, they also generally leave it. Then there are the people who cut their teeth on other systems (Fiasco and Microscope are the best examples of this), for whom this never comes up in the first place.


This does not apply to RPGs much. When a gamer talks about an awesome hero character they will pretty much just talk about combat and what they killed and maybe a little what deed they did. But few gamers would tell you the story of how their ''sympathetic character survived the horrors of war''. And just about no gamer cares about cost ''I killed Demorgon with my bare hands, and oh, he did eat the city of Happy Haven, but oh well."
There are several possible causes for this. The second most obvious is simply that the people who play more sophisticated games are less likely to tell gaming stories or do so at a lesser frequency, thus leading to a distribution of gaming stories that doesn't mirror the distribution of gaming groups. There's also the matter of highlights being easier to convey than anything which requires more nuance, causing games to seem shallower than they are. It's easy to describe an impressive fight your robot characters were in, describing their role within a world as a driving force for questions about personhood, consciousness, rights, and the societal institutions around this is somewhat more difficult. As such, the game that has both will probably generate more stories regarding the former.

That said, I have heard gaming stories that did take into account costs, including some about the mighty adventurers in question. For instance, there was one about an arrogant adventurer who consistently refused help, and in so doing was responsible for the death of a sibling, from which they were forever haunted until their eventual suicide when just how responsible they were became clear. Sure, I've probably heard fewer of these than varieties of "then we cut down the trees on the demonic serpents, and let loose a bunch of mortar fire when they were pinned", but that simply plays into my previous points regarding the non-representative nature of gaming stories.


Well, we are talking about action/adventure games. But literature works too. For example:Sherlock Holmes always solves the crime.
While this isn't quite true (Irene Adler), the larger context of literature suggests that Sherlock Holmes and such are outliers. Consider just about anything written by Fitzgerald, or Garcia Marquez, or the tragedies written by Shakespeare. Things going horribly wrong is part and parcel, particularly among the canonized classics, which are still fairly widely read.



Not at all. When you read a book, your just an observer. You just want to see how the story comes out. And when you read a book, you know the good guy will win, but you can still be entertained by the story. But games don't work like this. The whole point of a game is you might win or loose. You play a game as a challenge, to attempt to win. Take bowling: you try to score the highest you can, but if you were told you must play bumper bowling it becomes pointless.
I'd consider this a very narrow subset of games. Consider the games connected to improvisational theater - they are generally not winnable, but they are nonetheless games. I'd say the same about a lot of RPGs, where winning really isn't the point at all. Improvisational theater games are also a much closer analog than bowling will ever be.


Do the PCs know they are doomed? Do they know how pointless the game is? Or do you keep that a secret?
It's explicit from the beginning. Sure, there's some matter of lack of clarity - for instance, there are a number of different ways the PCs might get executed, exactly how much everything gets worse is up in the air, who else dies horribly is variable, etc. Still, in the long run it's a matter of failure and doom, and this much is blatantly obvious.

NichG
2012-11-07, 01:17 AM
Moving back to the demi-god thing...

In some sense, I think that a well-run game of demi-gods would have a tendency to move away from the 'look at me I'm so awesome I can kill stuff' sort of thing. I also think that the number of demi-god games that don't rise to this potential is probably quite high. I should say, my definition of 'potential' here is 'not taking advantage of the idea that demi-gods are qualitatively different'.

Preconceptions from the players, the DM, etc can all interfere with this. The DM thinks they're not running a demi-god game when really they are, the players are fixated on action hero (which is really a separate thing) and aren't thinking mythologically, etc.

The reason I say this is, a DM who is taking advantage of the 'demi-gods are different' idea is running a game about consequences more than a game about how the heroes follow the path of a specific story. Consider someone, we'll call him Slaughter, whose every willful action fundamentally alters the world. Someone who is just running around saying 'I kill stuff' may well be revelling in how awesome they are. Everyone else in the pantheon is going to be shaking their head and getting more and more nervous as things start going away - Slaughter has just killed Spring, Vino the god of wine and spirits, and Lacrimae the Soul-keeper. Now summer has become a desert, as plants that would blossom in the spring are struggling to obtain their first growths when the sun glares down upon them. The mortals have become a somber, sullen folk, living in a hellish landscape where they cannot even drown their troubles, and living with the knowledge that upon their death their souls will not be cared for and whisked away to the appropriate afterlife - they will have to wander a somber gray waste for eternity.

Slaughter may laugh all this off and say 'hey guys, its all in good fun'. But he finds he has become the villain of the story, whom the others must stop. Still, what happens if you kill Slaughter? The world becomes over-full with starving creatures, as only natural death can take hold. Imprison him? Its certainly a trope, but if PCs have god-powers it may be really hard to make stick. Negotiate with him? There things really get interesting.

This of course depends on there being no takebacks. If you can just resurrect Spring, Vino, and Lacrimae, you get something more akin to comic book heroes, where everything is made to look like it changes everything forever to make it more exciting, but heroes and villains always find some way to come back, be reborn, be reintroduced, etc.

Water_Bear
2012-11-07, 04:23 PM
Eh, the whole idea of playing as anthropomorphized abstract concepts and navigating a complex symbolic world underlying reality, just somehow doesn't seem very God-like to me. I mean, to each their own, obviously a ton of people like that or Nobillis wouldn't exist, but it's only one way to look at Demigod level play.

I like something which hews closer to either a mythological "Magic Sky-People with bronze-age weapons beating each other up and having sordid love-lives in between fights with giant monsters" or a more modern everything-goes Myth Noir kind of setting where Wolfram & Hart SEELE and the Cult of Cthulhu fight secret wars with intrigue black magic and laser-katanas while wearing sunglasses in poorly-lit rooms. Essentially, a more down-to-earth kind of demigod play; more Heracles and less Metatron.

Humans, whether literal average-joes or Batman/Doc Savage types, should also have some kind of role or presence. Obviously they can't quite compete at the same level, but myth is full of the idea of people so badass that even the Gods had to take notice like Jacob or Sisyphus.

NichG
2012-11-07, 05:57 PM
What would you consider to be the practical difference between a 'demi-god' and a 'legendary hero' then?

Water_Bear
2012-11-07, 06:19 PM
What would you consider to be the practical difference between a 'demi-god' and a 'legendary hero' then?

None?

Look at Jason and the Argonauts; Heracles, Orpheus (son of Apollo), and those two flying guys chumming along with Jason and the rest of the mortals, not even really stealing the spotlight. I'm not really familiar with non-Greek mythology, but I'm sure you can find similar groups in other cultures, not to mention cases like Sisyphus where mortals actually tricked or rarely outright defeated the gods.

Or Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf was a full-on minor deity in human form but was still roughly in the same league as Aragorn Boromir Gimli and Legolas. And again, looking at Bard killing Smaug (as a creation of Melkor I'm counting him as at least a demigod) in the Hobbit or that guy in the Silmarillian who killed a huge pile of Balrogs solo shows that mortal heroes are playing on the same footing.

'Demigod' is a power source, like 'Superhero' or 'Chosen One.' Even the Gods themselves are (usually) fairly touchable in most mythologies I've ever seen, not to mention the abundance of deicide in fiction. No reason they should be treated very differently than religious/mythologically themed superheros.

Knaight
2012-11-07, 06:27 PM
...or that guy in the Silmarillian who killed a huge pile of Balrogs solo shows that mortal heroes are playing on the same footing.

Feanor probably isn't the best example. He was an immortal elf, magically and physically powerful in the extreme, who stole the light from the trees and made gemstones out of them. Even by old immortal elf standards Feanor was completely ridiculous, and he probably deserves to be counted with the demigods. Someone like Hurin or Turin, by contrast, is distinctly mortal and shouldn't be; they were also not capable of the same things.

Water_Bear
2012-11-07, 06:49 PM
Feanor probably isn't the best example. He was an immortal elf, magically and physically powerful in the extreme, who stole the light from the trees and made gemstones out of them. Even by old immortal elf standards Feanor was completely ridiculous, and he probably deserves to be counted with the demigods. Someone like Hurin or Turin, by contrast, is distinctly mortal and shouldn't be; they were also not capable of the same things.

That's actually kind of the point I was making; human Dragon-slayers like Bard and Turin, Maiar/Istari Gandalf the Grey who died in combat with one Balrog, the Human->Nazgul Witch-King of Angmar who was at the level of an Istari but was defeated repeatedly by mortals, and the elf Feanor who was "completely ridiculous" are all on a continuum where it's practically impossible to seperate them by race or demigod-ness.

NichG
2012-11-07, 08:23 PM
For me I'd say there are distinctions. Playing a god/demi-god is more about the sort of abstract philosophical stuff, combined with the question 'what kind of things would a being who knows that they are right, knows that they are invulnerable without doubt, etc think?'. For instance, a character that is immune to feeling fear conceivably has a very different sort of reaction or psychology than someone who has a healthy amount of doubt. Its about creation of things, changing things forever, doing 'big stuff'. Not just having adventures - having the primal adventure, where each part of the story explains something about the world that you create. Forum god-games do this of course, but you can also do it in something more like D&D. I'd say that a PC who creates the Tippyverse, for example, is basically playing the kind of story that one would tell about gods - their actions utterly change what it means to exist. Similarly a PC who destroys magic forever, or a PC who ends the alignment wars, or whatever. The primary story element of god stories (for me) is 'mythic thinking' - things like, Uruwati the Raven hid from the great hunter within the ashes of a burnt forest, and that is why to this day the feathers of the raven are black.

A legendary hero, meanwhile, is more about a personal story. Their actions will be larger-than-life, and often will be mythic in nature (drink an ocean, convince the king he is a cat, etc), but these actions are driven by more concrete motives - my city will be destroyed, my lover will die, my soul will be tormented, etc. A legendary hero might change the geography a bit at the high end, but generally it will be the outcome of their quest that will change things on a global scale, not merely the individual actions they take along the way (whereas a demi-god would be somewhere between this legendary hero level and the god level - some of their actions will change the world without them intending it, but usually in a merely colorful way. Their steps create chasms in their wake, their battle levels a city, etc). The primary story element of legendary hero stories (for me) is usually something of the form of 'thwart fate': something bad happened, and now against all odds the hero will turn the world around and defy the laws of the universe to try to fix it.

A comic-book 'superhero' type is meanwhile on a different sort of axis for me. There, its more about Gurren-Lagann style ridiculous scale, but the scale is not fully thought through. Rule of cool supercedes consequences for actions, and causality may sometimes have to sit down and shut up to make the story work/be sufficiently awesome. A comic book hero could be doing mundane things, or they could be fighting giant creatures that want to eat the Earth, but at the end of the day the fact that they had to punch a hole through the moon so the mad scientist in the party could use his gravitational bola to send the World Eaters flying off towards Alpha Centauri ends up being mostly cosmetic. This is sort of the beer-and-pretzels legendary hero. The primary story element here (for me) is 'make it awesome'.

There are other genres of course, but I think this suffices for the topic at hand.

Within each genre, I'd say there's a span of power levels. A low-power god story might be something like the Native American or African stories about the primal animals - they never do anything too godlike, but the story acts as a template for how the world will be. The high power version is somewhere around stories of Ragnarok, Nobilis, and some high end D&D games.

For legendary heroes, low power is easy - a mere mortal who fights mundane challenges like exhaustion, fear, starvation at sea, despair, etc can become a legendary hero. High power is stuff like Cu Chulain, etc as have been mentioned.

For comicbooks, the range is I suppose from Aquaman to any number of high-end universe-shattering heroes (Gurren Lagann probably tops this chart or nearly). I'll admit to being less versed here.

All three of these (and more) can make for excellent gaming. But I do feel they're different. Also, I'm a little less sanguine about a game where the PCs are 'demi-gods' only in that their numbers are huge. Unless there's a qualitative difference in the things you accomplish, I don't really see that as being different than any other power level - you've just changed the terminology (instead of 10 damage its 1000 damage, or instead of tying someone up you're pinning them to the fabric of the universe, but its still individual-on-individual scale conflicts).

Water_Bear
2012-11-08, 05:11 PM
That doesn't really sound God-like though; it's a metaphysical game of Operation more than anything mythological demigods (or even Gods) have done.

As for how challenges change, well it's a sliding scale. A street-level hero, like most action movie protagonists, might be fighting a conspiracy in their city or protecting a small group of people. Then you have someone like Heracles, he'll wrestle Kaiju-sized monsters and foil/fulfill ancient prophecies. At the top there are the capital-G Gods like Superman or Thor who deal with issues on a Galactic or Planar scale. The threats scale, the abilities scale, but it's still comprehensible and has some tenuous basis in reality.

NichG
2012-11-08, 06:20 PM
That doesn't really sound God-like though; it's a metaphysical game of Operation more than anything mythological demigods (or even Gods) have done.

I'd say its more Celestial Bureaucracy than Hercules, but I'd put Hercules in the 'legendary hero' category rather than the 'deity' category. The Greek gods certainly have the metaphysical Operation thing going at least a little bit - Persephone was forced to stay in the underworld, so her mother changed the seasons so everyone could feel her grief. Poseidon is very much identified with the natural disasters of the ocean rather than the sort of messing around stuff that Zeus gets up to. I'd say its more that Zeus basically got his part of the story done in dealing with the titans and fathering the pantheon, and now he's just messing around while his children do this or that. Sort of like Oberon in Amber. Amber I think also does the god-like bit well, while still keeping the characters human in some respects: I mean, to solve his problems, Corwin casually creates universes where the inhabitants of the universe slavishly love and worship him so that he can obtain a perfectly loyal army. He may not care (which is typically god-like), but his actions changes things on a massive scale for those shadows.



As for how challenges change, well it's a sliding scale. A street-level hero, like most action movie protagonists, might be fighting a conspiracy in their city or protecting a small group of people. Then you have someone like Heracles, he'll wrestle Kaiju-sized monsters and foil/fulfill ancient prophecies. At the top there are the capital-G Gods like Superman or Thor who deal with issues on a Galactic or Planar scale. The threats scale, the abilities scale, but it's still comprehensible and has some tenuous basis in reality.

I guess what I'm saying is that there is a difference between refluffing your throwing axe into being a galaxy, and your enemy's 15d6 fire breath becomes 'dimensional flux breath'
and actually having a story about people with the ability to throw galaxies and what that means to them and to others.