PDA

View Full Version : Legendary Actions and More of Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories



Pages : [1] 2 3 4 5 6

Talakeal
2019-05-12, 01:15 PM
My players absolutely hate it when a monster has an ability that they cannot replicate. If it is an ability out of the monster manual, they will usually grumble and tolerate it, but if it is a custom ability they absolutely read my the riot act. I assume this is just my players being crazy and not normal, right? Anyone else have experience with that?


But one of my players absolutely loathes legendary / lair actions*. He is normally one of my more reasonable players, but every time legendary actions come up in game or merely in discussion he immediately goes into a bad mood and starts grumbling and complaining or quietly sulking.


This came to a head yesterday when they were fighting a dragon. He complained loudly the entire fight about how BS legendary actions were, and at one point there was an unclear rule involving a monster's legendary action and I needed to make a ruling and we were discussing it and the player but in and said, "No point in discussing this. Talakeal always rules in the monster's favor when legendary actions are concerned. We might as well just write a house rule that states: Change description of all legendary actions to "The monster does whatever Talakeal wants it to do."

Then, when his character hit zero HP (not dead, just disabled and fully heal-able) the player got up, pulled out his phone, and went into the other room to surf the net rather than pay attention to the game.


So yeah, for some reason, this player really really hates legendary actions. I try to explain that they are necessary to keep the action moving and to counteract the advantages provided by action economy, but the player simply doesn't see it and just gets mad and turns the discussion into a fight any time I bring it up. At this point I am legitimately considered house ruling legendary actions out of the game and just giving boss monsters extra HP and damage to compensate because I am tired of fighting about it.

Anyone have any advice? Either how to socially disarm the situation or mechanically change the rules? Anyone have any similar opinions or experiences with legendary actions?



*: For anyone not familiar with this concept, it is basically a concept introduced in recent editions of D&D where certain "boss" monsters have a few special abilities that they can only use as bonus actions during the player's turn.

Fable Wright
2019-05-12, 09:21 PM
The most problematic lair actions are the ones that allow for repositioning. The players make a plan, think about how their turn works, and then the monster repositions and then it's all back to square one. It's difficult to lock them down, and they're able to react to changes faster than the players. The wing buffet that dragons have is particularly infuriating to melee characters, and a lich using something like Thunder Step with a legendary action is just brutal.

And to a lesser extent... well, they can place their attacks when and where they hurt, and they can be versatile enough that it feels that the monster is running on GM fiat.

A way to tone down the hostility may be to give some indication of what the monster's legendary actions are likely to be, on the monster's turn. It takes away some of the dread, gives you some idea of what you could likely expect, and generally makes them less of an intimidating blank check of 'screw the players' that they might otherwise be. More 'laying a trap card' by saying how three balls of energy (three cantrips) whir into existence around the lich, or how the dragon flexes his wings (foreshadowing a wing buffet). Speak with the player first, and if they're receptive to a compromise, treat them as extra readied actions, with all the extra description that entails.


*: For anyone not familiar with this concept, it is basically a concept introduced in recent editions of D&D where certain "boss" monsters have a few special abilities that they can only use as bonus actions during the player's turn.

Hooooooold the phone.

It is not during the players' turns. If it is, that is your key mistake here and I understand why the player feels they might be intrusive. They are only directly before or after a player's turn. They cannot interrupt their initiative. Disrupting the flow of planning is one thing, but disrupting the flow of a player's turn is very much disrupting something that players and game designers keep sacrosanct.

Talakeal
2019-05-12, 09:34 PM
The most problematic lair actions are the ones that allow for repositioning. The players make a plan, think about how their turn works, and then the monster repositions and then it's all back to square one. It's difficult to lock them down, and they're able to react to changes faster than the players. The wing buffet that dragons have is particularly infuriating to melee characters, and a lich using something like Thunder Step with a legendary action is just brutal.

And to a lesser extent... well, they can place their attacks when and where they hurt, and they can be versatile enough that it feels that the monster is running on GM fiat.

A way to tone down the hostility may be to give some indication of what the monster's legendary actions are likely to be, on the monster's turn. It takes away some of the dread, gives you some idea of what you could likely expect, and generally makes them less of an intimidating blank check of 'screw the players' that they might otherwise be. More 'laying a trap card' by saying how three balls of energy (three cantrips) whir into existence around the lich, or how the dragon flexes his wings (foreshadowing a wing buffet). Speak with the player first, and if they're receptive to a compromise, treat them as extra readied actions, with all the extra description that entails.

It really seems to be less the surprise aspect of it and more the concept of a monster being able to do something that a player fundamentally cannot do.


Hooooooold the phone.

It is not during the players' turns. If it is, that is your key mistake here and I understand why the player feels they might be intrusive. They are only directly before or after a player's turn. They cannot interrupt their initiative. Disrupting the flow of planning is one thing, but disrupting the flow of a player's turn is very much disrupting something that players and game designers keep sacrosanct.

I am aware of that, I was just giving a very brief overview for people who may not be familiar with the term.

Fable Wright
2019-05-12, 11:05 PM
It really seems to be less the surprise aspect of it and more the concept of a monster being able to do something that a player fundamentally cannot do.

Players can get Legendary Actions through True Polymorph.

Players can also do several things that monsters don't, such as death avoidance, domain Channel Divinities, Conquest Paladin lockdowns, and so on. It's not 3.5e anymore. But... well, the players can't get eye-beams for at-will disintegration like a Beholder can. The players can't get dragon-strength breath weapons outside of Shapechange and such, but they don't complain about that in most systems.

If it's really just about player/monster asymmetry, have you considered letting players make a lair where they *can* have lair actions via traps or spells? Or, in a climactic encounter defending townspeople, they temporarily get (restricted) Legendary Actions?

Elysiume
2019-05-13, 02:15 AM
Coming from a PF background, legendary/lair actions are one of my favorite things about 5e: they reduce the degree of rocket tag by metering out what an enemy boss can do. Instead of a single extremely powerful spell or flurry of attacks, they can have several moderate strength abilities. Not as much of a fan of legendary saves, though. It's an inelegant solution to a persistent problem. That's not the question at hand, though, so to keep it on topic: neither I nor anyone I've played with has reacted negatively to legendary actions.

I can understand the interest in PC-NPC symmetry but, as Fable said, that basically went out the window in 5e. Even in 3.5/PF there were plenty of assymetrical things that you could only get through high-level or convoluted means. It feels like a weird hill to die on and while I obviously only have the context from your post, your problem player in question comes across as, well, a problem player. Making snide remarks and walking away once something doesn't go their way doesn't really paint a picture of someone I'd be super interested in gaming with.

It's cliche advice but I'd just ask what they want from the game before you try to houserule it. Why are they so mad about legendary actions? Would they be mad about if enemies just got extra actions, but only on the enemy's turn? What if they had no more actions, but each action was stronger to make up for it? Do they not like the (perceived) increase in raw power, or do they not like the way it circumvents the normal conventions of initiative? Maybe it really is just exclusively about the asymmetry? Based on your posts it definitely looks like you're leaning towards the asymmetry being the issue and that's just...weird to me. It's such a non-issue for me.

RedMage125
2019-05-13, 11:57 AM
I DM'd 3.0, 3.5, 4e, and 5e. I can say, without hesitation, that Legendary Actions are a boon to the game.

Your player seems to resent that Action Economy does not work in his favor when hanging up on a single monster. I can say, without a doubt, based on your story, that he is being petulant.

I've run dragon fights in 3.x, and Action Economy makes those things a lot less exciting than they should be. Example: I once ran a party of 14th level characters against a CR 20 ish Red Dragon. 6 PC turns to only one for the dragon meant it was not much of a challenge. This was not only disappointing to me, as a DM (since I wanted my players to experience something epic and awesome), but anticlimactic to my players, who felt kind of jaded.

4e gave us Solo Monsters, and barring making a creature a Solo thru templates, all Solo monsters had lots of Reactions, Interrupts, and other off-turn actions. Dragons, for example, upon reaching their Bloodied threshold immediately recharge and use their breath weapon. This made encounters with a single creature way more fun and exciting for everyone. Beholders were a lot of fun, too.

5e gave us Legendary Actions. This was the inheritance of 4e's Solo monsters. It makes creatures able to challenge an entire party when encountered alone. Lair Actions, likewise. They emphasize the extra danger involved in attacking a creature in its home turf. Better to lure an Ancient Dragon into neutral ground than fight in its home.

Your player seems, to my perception, to be more interested in "winning" than "playing". I, as a player, have been in combat with Legendary creatures, and my take-away is that it was a lot of fun.

Man_Over_Game
2019-05-13, 12:05 PM
I mean, everyone has the option of Extra Attack. Since you're on the topic of 5e, Fighters can get up to 5 attacks in a single turn (Attack, Extra Attack x3, Two Weapon Fighting).

A Fighter + Sorcerer multiclass can cast up to 3 spells in the same turn (Action Surge + Quicken Spell).

So the problem isn't quantity. The problem is perception.

So my recommendation is to change how your boss works a little bit. Remove his Multiattack feature and instead rely on his Legendary Actions to implement his attacks. So while players do all of their attacks in a burst, the Boss has them divided between all of the turns equally. Dial up the damage a little bit to compensate for the loss of Multiattack. Then just explain that this change actually makes things easier on players, as it gives them the means of responding to an enemy's attack as opposed to dying in a single turn. Now everyone has Extra Attack, the boss just has a slightly modified version.

He's probably a 3.5 player or something. 3.5 had monsters and players come from the same creation system, and not having that system probably has the player feel like the game is being unfairly tilted.

The funny part is, it's being tilted in his favor.

Florian
2019-05-13, 03:09 PM
Anyone have any advice?

Buy a cattle prod and use it without hesitation.

Psyren
2019-05-13, 03:11 PM
5e gave us Legendary Actions. This was the inheritance of 4e's Solo monsters. It makes creatures able to challenge an entire party when encountered alone. Lair Actions, likewise. They emphasize the extra danger involved in attacking a creature in its home turf. Better to lure an Ancient Dragon into neutral ground than fight in its home.

Yeah, we're working on porting some version of these back into PF, so that we have boss monsters with true action economy but with the prior system's more heroic-feeling scaling. It was definitely a good idea on 5e's part - people want big climactic solo-monster boss fights, but trying to do those in 3.5/PF is just too swingy - either the monster crushes everyone or they wax it in a couple of rounds and shrug.

Segev
2019-05-14, 12:30 AM
I sympathize in general with wanting symmetry with NPCs, at the least, but monsters are fundamentally different.

Have you tried a points based system like BESM, GURPS, or Mutants and Masterminds? Building monsters as PCs is a lot easier in those, if that is the problem your players are having.

Florian
2019-05-14, 12:50 AM
I sympathize in general with wanting symmetry with NPCs, at the least, but monsters are fundamentally different.

Have you tried a points based system like BESM, GURPS, or Mutants and Masterminds? Building monsters as PCs is a lot easier in those, if that is the problem your players are having.

His players are simply huge jerks.

In D&D 3E and upwards, monsters are designed to counter a whole party of 3 to 5 players if needed, so they tend to pack more oomph than what's available on the player side of the table. Legendary and Lair actions are there to counter the more or less automatic advantage in the economy of actions granted by pitting a group against a solo monster. I mean, you can always use a setup like old Onyxias Lair in WoW, adding waves of mooks to negate this advantage, but that doesn't really carry the same mood and feeling of confronting the big dragon.

Either one understands and accepts that this asymmetry is there by design (and why it was designed in such a way), or the meaningless hissy fits start.

(This is also the reason why some 3.5E abilities are flat-out broken. Having access to stuff that was meant to be a challenge for a whole party quickly sinks any semblance of balance.)

OldTrees1
2019-05-14, 02:31 AM
My players absolutely hate it when a monster has an ability that they cannot replicate. If it is an ability out of the monster manual, they will usually grumble and tolerate it, but if it is a custom ability they absolutely read my the riot act. I assume this is just my players being crazy and not normal, right? Anyone else have experience with that?

Anyone have any advice? Either how to socially disarm the situation or mechanically change the rules? Anyone have any similar opinions or experiences with legendary actions?

Your story has 3 elements
1) Your players do not like the asymmetry between monster NPC mechanics and PC mechanics. This has come to a head with Legendary Actions. Both liking and disliking asymmetry are common preferences players might have. Personally I would prefer 3rd edition's symmetry if I were making a monsterous PC and I can see the advantages of 5th edition's asymmetry when creating encounters.

2) Your players are reacting crazy (how much of that is hyperbole?) when you use the asymmetry. It would be better if they attempted a dialogue rather than passive aggressive grumbling, reading you the riot act, or tuning out of the game.

3) You do not say what they dislike about the asymmetry / legendary actions. Talk to them? Don't try to explain why legendary actions are great / required. You have already told them those details. Right now, what you want to know is specifics from them, so you can find a solution.


So my suggestion has a few parts:
1) Most of your horror stories sound like a breakdown in communication. You like X for reason A. They dislike X for reason B. You know reason A but you have not heard reason B. Once you know reason B and they know reason A, then you can use Y for reason A & B.
2) I can guess at some of their criticisms.
2a) Asymmetry might mean that "I can see a monster do a cool thing, but at the price of knowing I can never do that cool thing". If this is one of their concerns, then it can be solved by creating custom feats / spells with the players. Now the monsters and PCs still use asymmetrical rules but both get access to the cool thing.
2b) Since 5E reduced the number of PC reactions to 1, and increased the number monster out of turn actions to 1+ per PC, then the players might feel like their characters are moving in slow motion with limited ability to react. If this is the concern, then legendary actions might be the wrong tool for solving the action economy. Consider giving the Boss reinforcements rather than extra turns. In 3rd edition I often made the boss only half of the encounter budget and made sure they had worthy minions including minibosses.
3) In the long run you would want to get everyone on board with being more respectful to each other. Defusing the social situations earlier via better communication will help build the trust and respect that will temper temporary emotions.

DrKerosene
2019-05-14, 03:35 AM
Well, I guess there is a few things you could try.

You could tell the primary problem player (PPP) to try out DMing a series of combats with Solo creatures that do and do not have any Legendary Actions. Non-legendary action Solo’s will probably need additional NPCs to make the combats not lame.

Perhaps you can provide an NPC ally to the Party with Legendary Actions (like a Unicorn or two, acting as mounts in a dramatic combat-chase scene). That way your Party can benefit from some combos without having to wait a whole round (and not have to rely on using the Ready Action).

Alternatively, you could just threaten to use more badass creatures that are also now worth less XP. “Because PPP is such a whiner, you get to fight two Adult Black Dragons with their own separate Breath Weapon recharges, fortunately they don’t have Legendary Actions anymore”.

Last idea I have is to use nesting monsters (one inside another) who can burst out part way through a fight, or just use Paragon Monsters from the Angry DM. https://theangrygm.com/return-of-the-son-of-the-dd-boss-fight-now-in-5e/

Roderick_BR
2019-05-14, 11:25 AM
tl;dr:

Players: Complain complain complain whiiiiiiiiiiine

Your players would absolutelly hate playing AD&D or the older editions, where monsters have very different rules from players.

kyoryu
2019-05-15, 01:57 PM
Between this and the clarification in the Railroading thread, it seems like the issue may be with you appearing to pull out unexpected maneuvers with no notice.

You might try foreshadowing them in a way, or even demonstrating them if you can do so in some way, so that your players have an expectation of what may happen.

So for the giant example, having him sneeze or whatever as the players came up to him, and describe the strong gust of wind, would make “and then he blows out his nose and it’s a Gust Of Wind less surprising.

Same with legendary/lair actions, especially custom ones. Show the players something that suggests the ability rather than just springing it on them. If possible, and within rules/limitations, just show them the ability outright, like how horror movies will often have the monster do whatever scary thing it does to an unnamed minor character to show you what it’s capable of.

ExLibrisMortis
2019-05-15, 05:21 PM
I don't like legendary actions either (primarily because it's a mechanical solution with in-universe consequences to a narrative problem that doesn't exist in-universe), but you'll either have to put up with it, or give up your single-big-boss fights, or go back to 3.5-style action economy shenanigans (i.e. bosses don't have more options than players, but they're more optimized/prepared, have minions, traps, contingencies etc.). Give them the three options, and see what they prefer. Let them switch back to legendary actions once (after the high-OP psion obliterates them in the surprise round), and then put your foot down and stick with whatever's been chosen.

Segev
2019-05-16, 10:16 AM
I don't like legendary actions either (primarily because it's a mechanical solution with in-universe consequences to a narrative problem that doesn't exist in-universe), but you'll either have to put up with it, or give up your single-big-boss fights, or go back to 3.5-style action economy shenanigans (i.e. bosses don't have more options than players, but they're more optimized/prepared, have minions, traps, contingencies etc.). Give them the three options, and see what they prefer. Let them switch back to legendary actions once (after the high-OP psion obliterates them in the surprise round), and then put your foot down and stick with whatever's been chosen.

I view legendary actions as working just fine in-universe. Watch any number of fights that these kinds of monsters are meant to emulate in fiction on TV or in novels, and you'll see the single big monster handling action deficit by being able to take more actions than any individual character, using invulnerabilities to shake off individuals' actions, and generally the challenge being posed because the actions the monster takes are sufficient in number to inconvenience each member of the heroic ensemble as if he were being individually fought by a single foe.

Legendary actions are just how the big monsters "keep up." They really are acting that often, and are that tough. It's not a kludge any more than any other mechanical construct to model something. In this case, it's modeling the monster's real-in-universe ability to be that hard to put down (in the case of things like auto-making a save) or that fast (in the case of actions that let them take extra actions out-of-turn).

ExLibrisMortis
2019-05-16, 04:05 PM
I view legendary actions as working just fine in-universe. Watch any number of fights that these kinds of monsters are meant to emulate in fiction on TV or in novels [...]
Hang on. "In fiction" does not mean "in-universe". The fact that it's fiction means it's not in-universe.

There are several conflicting interests here:
(1) People want the story of a big bad dragon that is defeated by a party of four amazing adventurers.
(2) People want the game to be fair, which such big dragon fights tend not to be, if the dragon is built like the adventurers (either the dragon has higher-level abilities that do more per action, in order to mitigate the action disadvantage, or it gets obliterated way too quickly).
(3) People want the universe be to "realistic" (or "believable" or "sensible" or whatever), which legendary actions tend not to be ("Hey look, three people walked into my lair, I'm suddenly twice as fast").

Legendary actions enable (1) to be combined with (2) (at least in the sense that the dragon and the adventurers use abilities of comparable strength), but at the cost of (3). I prefer (2) and (3) to be prioritized, hence I don't prefer legendary actions. That's all.

Segev
2019-05-16, 04:18 PM
Hang on. "In fiction" does not mean "in-universe". The fact that it's fiction means it's not in-universe.

There are several conflicting interests here:
(1) People want the story of a big bad dragon that is defeated by a party of four amazing adventurers.
(2) People want the game to be fair, which such big dragon fights tend not to be, if the dragon is built like the adventurers (either the dragon has higher-level abilities that do more per action, in order to mitigate the action disadvantage, or it gets obliterated way too quickly).
(3) People want the universe be to "realistic" (or "believable" or "sensible" or whatever), which legendary actions tend not to be ("Hey look, three people walked into my lair, I'm suddenly twice as fast").

Legendary actions enable (1) to be combined with (2) (at least in the sense that the dragon and the adventurers use abilities of comparable strength), but at the cost of (3). I prefer (2) and (3) to be prioritized, hence I don't prefer legendary actions. That's all.

I don't see how this is at the cost of (3). The dragon is a powerful monster with unique abilities. It can do certain things, including make attacks more often than certain other monsters, or succeed at saves significantly more reliably, possibly with a supreme effort of will. (Legendary saves are usually of the "after they fail, choose to make them succeed instead" variety, which is fairly easily mapped to "No. I. Do. Not. Give. In.")

What's unbelievable about a universe where a legendary monster is able to withstand things, or make an attack? If anything, the round structure that usually forces monsters to take all actions on one intiative tick is more counter to (3) than are legendary actions they can take off-turn.

Talakeal
2019-05-16, 04:22 PM
I don't see how this is at the cost of (3). The dragon is a powerful monster with unique abilities. It can do certain things, including make attacks more often than certain other monsters, or succeed at saves significantly more reliably, possibly with a supreme effort of will. (Legendary saves are usually of the "after they fail, choose to make them succeed instead" variety, which is fairly easily mapped to "No. I. Do. Not. Give. In.")

What's unbelievable about a universe where a legendary monster is able to withstand things, or make an attack? If anything, the round structure that usually forces monsters to take all actions on one intiative tick is more counter to (3) than are legendary actions they can take off-turn.

I think the disconnect is that their power scales with the number of foes they face.

Segev
2019-05-16, 04:30 PM
I think the disconnect is that their power scales with the number of foes they face.

It does? I thought they had a fixed limit. Do they get (# of players) legendary actions, or something?


If so, while it's a bit of a Quantum Ogre scenario, it's easily enough explained by one of a few options: this dragon only ever had that many, or he used some earlier in the day, or exploit the fact that not all of them are visible to obfuscate how many he actually has. (Legendary saves don't have to be announced, after all. Just record the uses fairly.)

Scaling with number of PCs is not nearly the problem that scaling with PC level is in terms of universe-cheating. It falls into a similar category as not rolling up the random encounter until the party encounters it.

ExLibrisMortis
2019-05-16, 04:30 PM
What's unbelievable about a universe where a legendary monster is able to withstand things, or make an attack?
What's unbelievable is that a "legendary monster" is "legendary" because it's present at a certain point in the story; it's not "legendary" until it's actually being challenged by a group of PCs. Because of the way legendary actions work, the narrative structure is present and detectable in-universe--boss monsters know that they're boss monsters, PCs pray to the DM for high rolls, and all that. Which is all fine, but I'm not a fan.

Another way of looking at it is this: legendary actions produce monsters that are perfectly tuned to produce just-about-certain victories for the PCs, that still feel like they had to work for them. I.e. it reduces dragon hunting to sport.

In contrast, in 3.5, it's generally the game rules that are detectable in-universe, at the cost of (1); sometimes that means your "ideal story" breaks down, because in the real world, most people who challenge dragons either die to attacks they cannot possibly resist, or kill it in one round because of overwhelming action advantage (which is the sensible way to hunt big dangerous things, after all).

And yes, the round structure isn't exactly good for (3), but I don't think it's easy to have everyone act at once... some sacrifices must be made to enable (4) (and to a certain extent (2)), which is: "The game must practical, i.e. it must be physically playable on a tabletop, and socially/intellectually playable with normal people, without too much effort" (3.5 violates (4) big-time if you play high-optimization casters).


Edit (number 3, sorry): What Talakeal said. I'm totally fine with an expanded form of Combat Reflexes that you can dump on a monster to give it more immediate-action counters, extra luck rerolls, and all that, as long as the abilities are always-on and part of what makes the monster so powerful in the first place.

Kyutaru
2019-05-16, 04:37 PM
I honestly hate Legendary actions. They are pure mechanical anti-fluff hogwash that breaks the suspension of disbelief we're aiming for in our storytelling game. It goes full swing into "this is a game and here are ways my boss monster can cheat".

But hey, I happen to like the theater of the mind. Maybe you prefer Final Fantasy games where there's some deep involving story cutscenes -- followed by a boss battle where the enemy literally cuts you in half every other round. A bit jarring for me but the games are still fun as a solo experience.

D&D keeps becoming more and more like a video game and less like its original concept. But hey, that's what sells, especially in this age of gamers.

Segev
2019-05-16, 04:38 PM
I haven't seen any entries that say, "Because this monster isn't a boss monster for this scenario, he doesn't get his legendary actions." I've seen entries that say, "This isn't his lair, so he can't take lair actions," but that is very much a (3)-function. Lair actions are things that the monster can do because it has a connection - mystical or just in terms of having prepared it - to his lair.

A mad bomber in his lair likely would have lair actions involving pre-placed explosives, for instance, and couldn't use them in the Temple of Fiery Boom despite having beaten the party there and started studying the explosive properties of the Boom-plane, because he hadn't set the bombs up the way he has back home. A dragon who's just chased out the gnomes living in the caves she wants to claim as her new lair hasn't been there long enough to infuse the region with her magical essence, so it isn't her lair.

But I haven't seen anything in monster entries that say "these legendary actions only apply if the PCs are facing them at the right time."

ExLibrisMortis
2019-05-16, 04:45 PM
But I haven't seen anything in monster entries that say "these legendary actions only apply if the PCs are facing them at the right time."
Legendary actions in general only happen when initiative has been rolled, i.e. when the monster is in its role as boss monster, instead of being a far-away villain or future threat.

Segev
2019-05-16, 04:50 PM
Legendary actions in general only happen when initiative has been rolled, i.e. when the monster is in its role as boss monster, instead of being a far-away villain or future threat.

The same is true of melee attacks and fiery breath. Are you suggesting those break (3) as well? :smallconfused:

Quertus
2019-05-16, 05:09 PM
I also strongly dislike this concept. Just watch Teen Titans, or any of a number of other "1-vs-many" shows, where the 1 gets to act to counter each of the many for no discernable reason. And, obviously, only when "narratively appropriate". :smallyuk:

By all means, give me two dragons, or let us realistically* pown the lone dragon. Both are fine. Unrealism (counterrealism?) is not.

Now, as for PCs not getting the abilities… eh, it depends. If the ability is realistic, then the PCs should be able to duplicate it. They should be able to create spell-firing golems that fly around their heads to emulate Beholder eyes, or attach/grow animated wings or whatever.

IMO, it's the Gamist / Simulationist / Narrative argument. Are your players familiar with these concepts? If your players keep whining incoherently, you should probably work to gain a shared vocabulary.

* Yes, I realize how silly that sounds :smalltongue:

Segev
2019-05-16, 05:41 PM
I also strongly dislike this concept. Just watch Teen Titans, or any of a number of other "1-vs-many" shows, where the 1 gets to act to counter each of the many for no discernable reason. And, obviously, only when "narratively appropriate". :smallyuk:

By all means, give me two dragons, or let us realistically* pown the lone dragon. Both are fine. Unrealism (counterrealism?) is not.

Now, as for PCs not getting the abilities… eh, it depends. If the ability is realistic, then the PCs should be able to duplicate it. They should be able to create spell-firing golems that fly around their heads to emulate Beholder eyes, or attach/grow animated wings or whatever.

IMO, it's the Gamist / Simulationist / Narrative argument. Are your players familiar with these concepts? If your players keep whining incoherently, you should probably work to gain a shared vocabulary.

* Yes, I realize how silly that sounds :smalltongue:

You are aware that real-world battles of one-v-many have a sort-of bottleneck effect, too, and that there are tactics for this that make it look like the one gets to act more often than the many due to openings and lack thereof, right?

When it's a huge monster vs. normal sized guys, it's even more realistic. Heck, dragons have all those different attacks; rolling them on their own initiatives would make it "look" more like it does in Teen Titans and other shows.

Kyutaru
2019-05-16, 05:49 PM
You are aware that real-world battles of one-v-many have a sort-of bottleneck effect, too, and that there are tactics for this that make it look like the one gets to act more often than the many due to openings and lack thereof, right?

When it's a huge monster vs. normal sized guys, it's even more realistic. Heck, dragons have all those different attacks; rolling them on their own initiatives would make it "look" more like it does in Teen Titans and other shows.

Eureka! This is what we need to do then. Roll initiative for every weapon.

It's your turn Left Claw!

ExLibrisMortis
2019-05-16, 05:57 PM
The same is true of melee attacks and fiery breath.
No, it's not. Dragons can attack or burn whatever they please, no PCs required.

In any case, me not liking legendary actions isn't the topic at hand, so let's get return to Talakeal's players and what do do with them.

Tvtyrant
2019-05-16, 05:58 PM
Get rid of Legendary/lair actions, make a number of legendary creatures equal to the party size and share the original HP out among them? "There are four red dragons with 1/4 HP" works basically the same as one red dragon. They share their recharge powers, etc. So they don't get to pour fire out constantly.

Segev
2019-05-16, 06:00 PM
Eureka! This is what we need to do then. Roll initiative for every weapon.

It's your turn Left Claw!

I almost seriously proposed this earlier in the thread, then thought better of it because it'd just bog battles down. But...then, really, what's the difference between that and having 5 creatures, one with a big bite and four with claw-like clubs or spears? So it could be done.

What legendary actions do is add a few bursts of extra activity, and/or some defenses that make the monster tougher. They really don't violate any in-universe rules; if anything, the only thing they mess with is (2) on the game-level.

OldTrees1
2019-05-16, 06:00 PM
You are aware that real-world battles of one-v-many have a sort-of bottleneck effect, too, and that there are tactics for this that make it look like the one gets to act more often than the many due to openings and lack thereof, right?

When it's a huge monster vs. normal sized guys, it's even more realistic. Heck, dragons have all those different attacks; rolling them on their own initiatives would make it "look" more like it does in Teen Titans and other shows.

1) Real world choke points are similar to in game choke points. In those cases the PCs are fast enough to act more but there is not room to act more.

2) It depends on what "initiative" means in your mind. Having a create act on multiple initiatives could feel like "Its brain is so fast it gets extra turns" rather than your idea of "Its action, bonus action, and object interaction are so impressive we will split it across 3 initiative counts".

Segev
2019-05-16, 06:05 PM
No, it's not. Dragons can attack or burn whatever they please, no PCs required.
Name for me a legendary action that somehow doesn't exist before init is rolled. Legendary saves? No saving throw does. Or, if it does, the dragon can use his LEgendary Saves on them. Extra attack actions? They can make attacks against anything they want; the fact they may have to roll init doesn't magically make it invalid.

I think you will need to spell out an example of a Legendary Action to which you object on the grounds you're trying to object, and explain why, because I'm just not seeing it. I honestly don't understand your claim.


1) Real world choke points are similar to in game choke points. In those cases the PCs are fast enough to act more but there is not room to act more.

2) It depends on what "initiative" means in your mind. Having a create act on multiple initiatives could feel like "Its brain is so fast it gets extra turns" rather than your idea of "Its action, bonus action, and object interaction are so impressive we will split it across 3 initiative counts".

In 5e, it would be clumsy, because splitting claw/claw/bite makes far less sense than it might have in 3e or especially 2e. That's why they just give them a couple extra attacks to throw around and call them "legendary."

Still doesn't change that they make perfect sense in-universe. The dragon's attacking. Of course it is; you're fighting it. It has a lot of limbs to flail about with. And more of its actions during that six-second period resulted in potentially telling blows.



As to Talekeal's players' dislike of them, I think the question to ask regarding asymmetry is: what do they expect to be able to do?

Quertus
2019-05-16, 06:25 PM
As to Talekeal's players' dislike of them, I think the question to ask regarding asymmetry is: what do they expect to be able to do?

That was the roundabout point of my post: here is an example of someone who doesn't like them, and their reasons why. Now, players, you don't like them - can you explain your reasons?

Gallowglass
2019-05-16, 06:30 PM
Personally, I like the idea of legendary and lair actions BECAUSE it makes the enemies different than the players.

Really, in addition to allowing you the single enemy, many PC encounters that 3e/P pretty much rendered ineffective, what it does it make the combat round more responsive and more narrative.

It allows you to narrate and direct action between player's turns to make the combat more interesting, more varied and (yes) more competitive.

In 3e/P where you have to ahve multiple enemies to challenge the PCs your round looked either like

Player
Player
Enemy
Player
Enemy
Enemy
Player
Enemy

or (with one init for the enemies.)

Player
Player
Enemy
Enemy
Enemy
Enemy
Enemy
Player
Player

With legendary and lair actions it STILL looks like

Player
Enemy (legendary)
Player
Enemy (legndary)
Player
Player
Enemy
Player
Enemy (lair)

Except now the enemies are 1 enemy and three lair/legendary actions instead of 4 enemies.

The result is the same, but the narrative quality of the combat experience is better in some ways.

Kyutaru
2019-05-16, 09:12 PM
Except now the enemies are 1 enemy and three lair/legendary actions instead of 4 enemies.

The result is the same, but the narrative quality of the combat experience is better in some ways.
The perception, which matters in the imagination, is what changes. It feels like playing an arcade fighting game and the enemy gets access to combos but you don't. Mortal Kombat was hard enough when the bosses would two shot kill you but without action economy you'd never stand a chance. So to make a similar list, here's what it feels like:

Player: I cast Magic Missile at the dragon.
DM: Okay, it hurts him. Now the dragon goes. He slaps you with two claws.
Player: Ouch. Okay I--
DM: Wait, not done. While you're bleeding he uppercuts you in the jaw, tech grabs you in midair, piledrives you into the ground, then executes a Taunt over your broken body that lowers all your stats by two.

RedMage125
2019-05-17, 07:44 AM
I think the idea of multiple initiative rolls works great for creatures with multiple heads. From the ettin to the hydra, all the way to Tiamat.

Segev
2019-05-17, 07:53 AM
The perception, which matters in the imagination, is what changes. It feels like playing an arcade fighting game and the enemy gets access to combos but you don't. Mortal Kombat was hard enough when the bosses would two shot kill you but without action economy you'd never stand a chance. So to make a similar list, here's what it feels like:

Player: I cast Magic Missile at the dragon.
DM: Okay, it hurts him. Now the dragon goes. He slaps you with two claws.
Player: Ouch. Okay I--
DM: Wait, not done. While you're bleeding he uppercuts you in the jaw, tech grabs you in midair, piledrives you into the ground, then executes a Taunt over your broken body that lowers all your stats by two.

That is what happens without legendary actions. The dragon took his normal turn and used his multi attack option.

OldTrees1
2019-05-17, 10:30 AM
That is what happens without legendary actions. The dragon took his normal turn and used his multi attack option.

Segev, at some point you will recognize that some see it differently than you do. Attempting to contradict them about their own experience is a bit counterproductive.

1) Yes I can take a creature and make a mechanically equivalent one with / without legendary actions.
2) However, Legendary Actions can feel like the creature gets extra turns. I attack, then the dragon attacks on turn 1, breathes on turn 2, casts a spell on turn 3, does the hokey pokey on turn 4, files their taxes on turns 5-6, performs an opera on turns 7-8, and only then do I get another turn. To some players (maybe Talakeal's players?) this is not appear as bad if the creature does all of these within 1 turns worth of actions. To other players (like segev for example) it would feel worse if it was on a single uninterruptible initiative.
3) It would have really helped if Talakeal told us why their players don't like Legendary actions so we could talk about their concerns. It would obviously help Talakeal if they knew why their players don't like Legendary actions.

DrKerosene
2019-05-17, 11:10 AM
Eureka! This is what we need to do then. Roll initiative for every weapon.

It's your turn Left Claw!

I’m all for a Power Ranger Megazoid made from several Animated Objects. The only issue is that you are kinda creating “called shots” in that a limb can be targeted and disabled (without houserules). I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use Animated Armor, A Flying Sword, Animated Shield, and a Cape (rug) Of Smothering against my Party. Posing as a lone knight.


Name for me a legendary action that somehow doesn't exist before init is rolled.

If I applied the Half-Dragon template to a Unicorn, would you say that the “Shimmering Shield” and “Heal Self” Legendary Actions are unique, and wording implies they don’t exist if there is not another creature around.

Gallowglass
2019-05-17, 11:13 AM
Segev, at some point you will recognize that some see it differently than you do. Attempting to contradict them about their own experience is a bit counterproductive.


I don't think Segev, and I know I, am not trying to tell others "what their own experience" is. But what, at least, I am trying to point out is that the actual meat of the turn is the same as it ever was, so the problem is ONLY one of perception.

To me, the gripe is based on a skewed perception. the player is used to the 3e experience where the enemy is build on the same chassis as the player. So they shift to 5e and now the enemy isn't built on the same chassis.

However, for the same challenge, in 3e, the DM had to throw a horde of enemies at you, but now they can do the same challenge with one enemy.

I guess I view the encounter as fighting "the challenge" not "the monster". In 3e, a single creature was never a challenge to a group of 4 people because they always got 4x the actions as the creature. in 5e, the made a conscious decision to alter that mechanic so that you could have a narrative encounter of a group fighting a single foe (a classic staple that, for some, was sorely missed)

I had hoped that by pointing out that the single enemy with lair/legendary actions is actually completely equivalent to the four enemies you would've fought in 3e, it would adequately show why I feel the perception is skewed.

However, it didn't work. *shrug* oh well. Different perceptions.

Also, if the legendary/lair actions feel like how some posters are posting them, then I don't think they are being used right or responsibly. At no point should the DM do

player
Enemy
enemy legendary
enemy legendary
enemy legendary
player
player
player
enemy lair

While, as segev points out, that's just recreating the multi-attack 3e creature, it isn't how legendary are supposed to work (IMO). The legendary are supposed to act responsively to help break up the round and be seeded between players actions as responses and to change the "narrative" structure of the battle to keep it interesting. Not as a mortal-kombat style uninterruptable c-c-c-c0mbo.



I actually DM 50% of the time and play 50% of the time, so maybe I have a different viewpoint because I'm used to designing encounters and the difficulty that goes into the DM side of the thing.

I also believe, based on nothing but my own gut, that if the same player didn't think they were playing another brand of D&D, but a completely different game they probably wouldn't mind as much. Because they wouldn't have the weight of their preconceptions of what the experience should be weighing them down.

But then, this is Talakeal's table and Talakeal's players and, frankly, if you haven't already read the numerous hilarious threads about this table, you can't possibly understand the extreme dysfunction he chooses to live with. Its seriously reads like a table of 3 year olds who are told to eat their carrots.

Kyutaru
2019-05-17, 11:19 AM
To me, the gripe is based on a skewed perception. the player is used to the 3e experience where the enemy is build on the same chassis as the player. So they shift to 5e and now the enemy isn't built on the same chassis.
It's definitely one of perception but not due to the chassis. You're using game terminology to justify the scenario when the very issue is that it's so gamey. The perception break happens because in the imagination the creature is now acting out of turn when previously we were led to believe that the world (and physics) simply don't allow that. Breaking up multiple attacks across an initiative segment is one thing, it can be seen as iterative and you can do the same with Fighters who swing multiple times. That's a common thing in RPGs when your Speed is just that high. But Legendary actions feel so out of place in a roleplaying setting that they are deliberate attempts at balancing the GAME aspect of combat at the price of its own verisimilitude.

Theoboldi
2019-05-17, 11:22 AM
Not sure if anyone has said this yet, as I am only reading this thread casually, but I want to add something to Gallowglass' point.

Monsters in 5e cannot actually use more than one legendary at a time, and it only can use one after another creature's turn. Doing anything like a combo is impossible with just them as written.

Kyutaru
2019-05-17, 11:27 AM
Not sure if anyone has said this yet, as I am only reading this thread casually, but I want to add something to Gallowglass' point.

Monsters in 5e cannot actually use more than one legendary at a time, and it only can use one after another creature's turn. Doing anything like a combo is impossible with just them as written.
I'm sorry for not being clear enough but the issue isn't with the combos. The combination attack was merely the example of how it appears in the theater of the mind, like the enemy can do something that is physically impossible for you to replicate and not just because it's a dragon. The perception is the problem as it throws away the authenticity of the illusion being narrated in favor of pragmatic combat rules.

Segev
2019-05-17, 11:55 AM
Segev, at some point you will recognize that some see it differently than you do. Attempting to contradict them about their own experience is a bit counterproductive.But I'm not telling them what their subjective experience is. I'm simply pointing out that they're looking at six donuts piled up on their plate and complaining that that's too many, and that they preferred the half-dozen they were offered last week.


1) Yes I can take a creature and make a mechanically equivalent one with / without legendary actions.Actulaly slightly opposite to the point I was making in the post you quoted.

In 3e (and earlier editions), the monster took all of his actions at once, with no chance between for the PCs to do anything. If I took a 3e monster and rolled init for each of his attacks in a full attack, for example, however, it would look a lot like the monster was "acting out of turn." In reality, he's acting much weaker, because he's essentially having many of his attacks hit more slowly.

Now, as has been pointed out, Legendary Actions are expressly NOT supposed to work like that. So the events in the example I was responding to are really "the enemy takes his normal turn, getting to do these several things at once." Any Legendary actions are singular things happening between two PC turns.


2) However, Legendary Actions can feel like the creature gets extra turns. I attack, then the dragon attacks on turn 1, breathes on turn 2, casts a spell on turn 3, does the hokey pokey on turn 4, files their taxes on turns 5-6, performs an opera on turns 7-8, and only then do I get another turn.Again, unless I got to act on turn 1.5, and then Talekeal got to act on turn 2.5, and Kyutaru got to act on turn 3.5, and the dragon only filed his taxes on turns 5-6 because that was actually his turn and he got to do all the things you get to do on your turn then, and then the opera was him using talking as a free action, the DM is not using legendary actions right.

Also, having more than 3 legendary actions is highly rare, from what I've skimmed through the MM and seen.

However, it CAN feel like he gets a turn after each PC turn, if there are 4 PCs:

PC1 acts
Enemy takes a legendary action
PC2 acts
Enemy takes a legendary action
PC3 acts
Enemy takes a legendary action
PC4 acts
Enemy finally gets his real turn.

(You can swap any of the "legendary action" lines for the "enemy takes real turn" line, depending on init order.)

But all this really is saying is that the monster has more actions, and can spread them around the round. May as well complain about a hydra having more attacks on his turn due to more heads.


To some players (maybe Talakeal's players?) this is not appear as bad if the creature does all of these within 1 turns worth of actions. To other players (like segev for example) it would feel worse if it was on a single uninterruptible initiative.Talekeal's players may feel it's better if the monster takes his real turn with +3 extra actions, but it is objectively more to the PCs' advantage to have the monster not permitted to do so, and to have to take the extra three actions spread across the monsters' turns.

3) It would have really helped if Talakeal told us why their players don't like Legendary actions so we could talk about their concerns. It would obviously help Talakeal if they knew why their players don't like Legendary actions.Definitely.


I’m all for a Power Ranger Megazoid made from several Animated Objects. The only issue is that you are kinda creating “called shots” in that a limb can be targeted and disabled (without houserules). I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to use Animated Armor, A Flying Sword, Animated Shield, and a Cape (rug) Of Smothering against my Party. Posing as a lone knight.Technically, it's no more or less "called shots" than having 5 monsters on the field, each with their own stats and actions. You're picking a target.


If I applied the Half-Dragon template to a Unicorn, would you say that the “Shimmering Shield” and “Heal Self” Legendary Actions are unique, and wording implies they don’t exist if there is not another creature around.
I don't see how they fail to exist without other creatures. Both can be applied to the unicorn. It can do either of them once per round. A round is approximately 6 seconds, so that's how fast they refresh.

What wording do you see that implies they don't exist without other creatures around? And what's the half-dragon template have to do with it? I am not sure I follow what you're getting at.

Talakeal
2019-05-17, 12:21 PM
It's definitely one of perception but not due to the chassis. You're using game terminology to justify the scenario when the very issue is that it's so gamey. The perception break happens because in the imagination the creature is now acting out of turn when previously we were led to believe that the world (and physics) simply don't allow that. Breaking up multiple attacks across an initiative segment is one thing, it can be seen as iterative and you can do the same with Fighters who swing multiple times. That's a common thing in RPGs when your Speed is just that high. But Legendary actions feel so out of place in a roleplaying setting that they are deliberate attempts at balancing the GAME aspect of combat at the price of its own verisimilitude.

That's very odd to me.

I find the idea that everyone acts in discrete turns to be extremely gamist and immersion breaking to begin with, and the idea of something taking its actions gradually over time rather than in one distinct burst of activity actually helps with my view of the narrative.

Kyutaru
2019-05-17, 12:44 PM
That's very odd to me.

I find the idea that everyone acts in discrete turns to be extremely gamist and immersion breaking to begin with, and the idea of something taking its actions gradually over time rather than in one distinct burst of activity actually helps with my view of the narrative.
When reading a novel, do you read multiple lines at once or one at a time? The imagination is already trained to understand sequential actions and splitting up turns in the spotlight. Breaking up actions over time is indeed excellent if those actions are roughly similar, like the various monster attacks that happen one after another. Using a breath weapon as well as beating your wings and making a tail attack is quite a lot to be doing all at once, even if theoretically plausible. But roaring while also casting a spell is just cheating. The truly impressive named boss monsters are even more divisive. Where players often look for attack patterns to try to formulate tactics, a Kraken can spam Lightning Storms in defiance of that. Seemingly simultaneous actions that aren't related to their physical body attacks are too common. I'm actually fine with Lair actions because they tend to not be so obtrusive, almost as though the environment is taking a turn instead.

Talakeal
2019-05-17, 12:55 PM
When reading a novel, do you read multiple lines at once or one at a time? The imagination is already trained to understand sequential actions and splitting up turns in the spotlight. Breaking up actions over time is indeed excellent if those actions are roughly similar, like the various monster attacks that happen one after another. Using a breath weapon as well as beating your wings and making a tail attack is quite a lot to be doing all at once, even if theoretically plausible. But roaring while also casting a spell is just cheating. The truly impressive named boss monsters are even more divisive. Where players often look for attack patterns to try to formulate tactics, a Kraken can spam Lightning Storms in defiance of that. Seemingly simultaneous actions that aren't related to their physical body attacks are too common. I'm actually fine with Lair actions because they tend to not be so obtrusive, almost as though the environment is taking a turn instead.

That's an extremely weird way of looking at the world. I understand what you are saying, but I am having trouble even processing it.

Quertus
2019-05-17, 02:28 PM
That's an extremely weird way of looking at the world. I understand what you are saying, but I am having trouble even processing it.

Why can't a PC full attack and cast a spell and activate a supernatural power all in the same round?

Why can this monster?

The ability to do so clearly exists - what's a PC gotta do to gain / duplicate that ability?

Gallowglass
2019-05-17, 02:48 PM
It's definitely one of perception but not due to the chassis. You're using game terminology to justify the scenario when the very issue is that it's so gamey. The perception break happens because in the imagination the creature is now acting out of turn when previously we were led to believe that the world (and physics) simply don't allow that. Breaking up multiple attacks across an initiative segment is one thing, it can be seen as iterative and you can do the same with Fighters who swing multiple times. That's a common thing in RPGs when your Speed is just that high. But Legendary actions feel so out of place in a roleplaying setting that they are deliberate attempts at balancing the GAME aspect of combat at the price of its own verisimilitude.

So, my issue with this is... the "immersion" from how D&D actions work is already so wonky that it shatters the immersion you are talking about.

In six seconds things work like this:

P1. moves thirty feet, makes an attack
p2. moves thirty feet, coordinating around where p1 ended his turn, casts a spell
p3. moves thirty feet, coordinating around where both p1 and p2 ended their turn, makes an attack
enemy: would've attacked but p1 moved out of range. moves toward p1 to attack, literally walking through the squares p2 and p3 passed through but they ahve alreavy moved so no interaction. makes an attack.
p4: moves thirty feet, coordinating around where everyone else ended up. drinks a ptions



This is a ridiculous and completely un-immersive way to coordinate action on a battlefield, however we are used to it and accept it as normal.

I argue that having the monster split his actions as reactions to the PCs actions actually INCREASES immersion not decreases it.

Really the argument is "that monster gets more actions than I do." which is explained as either "yeah to make it more challenging to your entire group." or "yeah but he always did, he just used to have to take them all at the same time"

Hey, question, in 2nd edition didn't iterative attacks happen at the end of the round? So if a player and/or character get more than 1 attack in a round, they tacked them on again, in order after everyone else had a go?

Also, I might be imagining this, didn't everyone go around initiative and move, then go around again and attack?

Talakeal
2019-05-17, 03:01 PM
Why can't a PC full attack and cast a spell and activate a supernatural power all in the same round?

Why can this monster?

The ability to do so clearly exists - what's a PC gotta do to gain / duplicate that ability?

Which is I think why my players don't like them, but that doesn't have much to do with the idea that bunched actions are less immersion breaking than continuous ones that I was responding to.


Also, I might be imagining this, didn't everyone go around initiative and move, then go around again and attack?

That's how Shadowrun and WoD handle it. I don't recall AD&D working like that, but if it is the case that certainly has some major implications for class balance.

Edit: I looked it up. In AD&D bonus attacks (from warrior level, haste, etc.) work like that but simply taking multiple attacks due to dual wielding or having more than one baseline attack does not.

Segev
2019-05-17, 03:46 PM
Why can't a PC full attack and cast a spell and activate a supernatural power all in the same round?

Why can this monster?

The ability to do so clearly exists - what's a PC gotta do to gain / duplicate that ability?

"Be that monster type," is the snarkiest answer I can come up with, but more pedantically and even less helpfully, he can cast a spell as a bonus action, use some sort of reaction (possibly to use a supernatural ability), and then move and make his normal action attack(s).

I have to wonder if, for instance, they're upset about a Legendary action to breathe fire, whether they'd have the same objections of "fiery breath" was a bonus action ability, or a reaction.

Quertus
2019-05-17, 05:13 PM
Why can't a PC full attack and cast a spell and activate a supernatural power all in the same round?

Why can this monster?

The ability to do so clearly exists - what's a PC gotta do to gain / duplicate that ability?


Which is I think why my players don't like them,

You know, I was going to give a longer reply, but… let's just deal with this.

So, you know why you're players don't like Legendary Actions? Since this is your group, explicitly ask them if this understanding of their complaint is accurate.

If this is the problem, them you need a world that is consistent as to the "why" and "how".

If the logic is that I cannot cast and full attack because I'm using those limbs, then I should be able to cast verbal-only spells, and the dragon should find that breathe, roar, cast, and bite are all mutually exclusive actions.

If the logic is one of focus, then Dragons should suffer the same limits as humans, but creatures with "helper brains" should be more dangerous.

If the logic is that it's big and threatening lots of squares, then PCs should be able to duplicate that through a combination of growth magic, reach weapons, etc.

Start with the underlying logic, and build from there.

Tvtyrant
2019-05-17, 05:20 PM
You know, I was going to give a longer reply, but… let's just deal with this.

So, you know why you're players don't like Legendary Actions? Since this is your group, explicitly ask them if this understanding of their complaint is accurate.

If this is the problem, them you need a world that is consistent as to the "why" and "how".

If the logic is that I cannot cast and full attack because I'm using those limbs, then I should be able to cast verbal-only spells, and the dragon should find that breathe, roar, cast, and bite are all mutually exclusive actions.

If the logic is one of focus, then Dragons should suffer the same limits as humans, but creatures with "helper brains" should be more dangerous.

If the logic is that it's big and threatening lots of squares, then PCs should be able to duplicate that through a combination of growth magic, reach weapons, etc.

Start with the underlying logic, and build from there.

So long as you are fine with the Dragon being level 20+ and scry and dying you when you trip it's alarms, sure. XP gain on a 300 year old apex predator means there is never going to be a raw dragon flying around, and their int and charisma are high enough to make them expert tacticians and better mages than you. Aboleths are automatically high epic, being between tens of thousands and millions of years old, and the frontline Devils in the Blood War have hundreds of levels.

Morty
2019-05-17, 05:21 PM
Of all the things that break verisimilitude in D&D, or any other heroic fantasy RPG, "big scary monster takes multiple actions per round" feels like it'd rank pretty row, but apparently not. The idea that the rules represent some kind of objective reality seems to be still pretty well entrenched. I suppose you can reject legendary actions and similar... but then you're not very likely to have satisfying boss fights against legendary monsters. So it goes.

Florian
2019-05-17, 05:28 PM
Why can't a PC full attack and cast a spell and activate a supernatural power all in the same round?

Why can this monster?

The ability to do so clearly exists - what's a PC gotta do to gain / duplicate that ability?

Why should they be able to?

Look, this is something that has gone terribly wrong with D&D: Instead of the rules being there to model the object, the object has to be bent around in such a way that it has to conform with the rules.

Take a look at games that handle "speed" as a real factor, either in the more abstract sense of "Initiative passes" like you get in ShadowRun or World of Darkness, or in a more concrete sense of "tick systems", like Splittermond. Then compare that to the simplified combat round setup you have in 3E+ D&D. You´re old hand at this and repeatedly say that AD&D 2nd is you fav. edition, so you should know how the original idea of the "combat round" was to model all that happens in that particular time frame at once, step by step. Hence why spell casting could be interrupted, how weapon specialization with the 3/2 format works and all of that.

Now "Legendary" and "Lair" actions go beyond the simple action economy of 5E and model what the creature should really be capable of. A fully-fledged Dragon simple has more to offer than your regular Grey Elf Arcane Knight with his bow and puny spells.

Friv
2019-05-17, 05:36 PM
Why can't a PC full attack and cast a spell and activate a supernatural power all in the same round?

Why can this monster?

The ability to do so clearly exists - what's a PC gotta do to gain / duplicate that ability?

Spend their entire life as a dragon and also still be a dragon. Dragons cast spells while attacking because they're big magical monsters who are naturally good at casting spells as part of maulings.

OldTrees1
2019-05-17, 05:37 PM
But I'm not telling them what their subjective experience is. I'm simply pointing out that they're looking at six donuts piled up on their plate and complaining that that's too many, and that they preferred the half-dozen they were offered last week.

Segev, you did it again. Gallowglass is obviously right about how you are not trying to do so. However in this very post you did it again.


Actually slightly opposite to the point I was making in the post you quoted.
How can a statement made about both conversions be the opposite of a statement about one of the two conversions?


Again, unless I got to act on turn 1.5, and then Talekeal got to act on turn 2.5, and Kyutaru got to act on turn 3.5, and the dragon only filed his taxes on turns 5-6 because that was actually his turn and he got to do all the things you get to do on your turn then, and then the opera was him using talking as a free action, the DM is not using legendary actions right.
Misses the point.

How many turns did the Dragon get between PC1's turns? Do you see how that might feel different to PC1 than if the Dragon did all of that on the Dragon's single turn? Do you see why some players might prefer A to B despite you preferring B to A? Several times in this thread posters have explained why Legendary actions might feel worse than non Legendary action solutions. We have done this because Talakeal's players have an objection that Talakeal has forgotten to describe in detail. Each time you replied with "No, think about it like this instead" like you did in the remainder of the post. Knowing why someone might not object is not as useful until we hear why Talakeal's players object. However in the meantime it might be wise if we all recognize some of the possible objections. Instead of saying "No, think about it this way instead". We get it, you do not object to Legendary actions and even like them. I don't object to them and I have tried to be productive by trying to figure out why Talakael's players might object.

Now, rather than saying they can't feel like that. Could we examine possible roots to that criticism and ways to address them other than by saying "No, you are wrong, clearly your 6 donuts are a half dozen donuts." Maybe the players prefer having more time before the enemy can react even at the cost of having the dragon react more at once.

PS: Roughly half of this frustration is at Talakeal rather than you.

Gallowglass
2019-05-17, 05:41 PM
You know, I was going to give a longer reply, but… let's just deal with this.

So, you know why you're players don't like Legendary Actions? Since this is your group, explicitly ask them if this understanding of their complaint is accurate.

If this is the problem, them you need a world that is consistent as to the "why" and "how".

If the logic is that I cannot cast and full attack because I'm using those limbs, then I should be able to cast verbal-only spells, and the dragon should find that breathe, roar, cast, and bite are all mutually exclusive actions.

If the logic is one of focus, then Dragons should suffer the same limits as humans, but creatures with "helper brains" should be more dangerous.

If the logic is that it's big and threatening lots of squares, then PCs should be able to duplicate that through a combination of growth magic, reach weapons, etc.

Start with the underlying logic, and build from there.

A powerful beast getting a bunch of extra actions to weave between the party's attacks is NO LESS LOGICAL than every character standing perfectly still and waiting for each other character to do their full movement and full action one at a time in order through the six second round.

Logic has no place in either. It seems weird to "accept" the second because you are used to it, but balk at the first because its new to you.

Actually, I'm more that willing to brain-edit it that every creature with legendary actions has a bunch of "helper brains" seeded through their nervous system like parasitical fetus-twins doing the work for the legendary creature. That is now my new head-canon for how it works. Thank you for that.




Now, rather than saying they can't feel like that. Could we examine possible roots to that criticism and ways to address them other than by saying "No, you are wrong, clearly your 6 donuts are a half dozen donuts."


They can feel however they want to feel. But it's six donuts either way. I think it a legitimate conversational purpose to try and point out the reasons why their perception of the problem does not jive with the reality of the situation in the hopes of getting them to change their mind about it. I would like to do that without saying "you guys are stupid" because that just shuts down any chance of them changing their mind, but its hard for me to find somethign to validate for them in what -I- feel is a perception problem.

...

how about...

I think its valid to find changed rules troubling as you are still getting used to them. And I think its valid to say "after giving it a try I just like the old way better." ?


... Gallowglass is obviously right ...

Hey now! That's signature worthy....

DrKerosene
2019-05-17, 05:41 PM
Why can't a PC full attack and cast a spell and activate a supernatural power all in the same round?

Why can this monster?

The ability to do so clearly exists - what's a PC gotta do to gain / duplicate that ability?

How about a Hasted Scourge-Aasimar Cleric:
-Channel Divinity, Spiritual Weapon, hasted Weapon Attack (which is a Full Attack for a Cleric), and maybe an Opportunity Attack too.
-Radiant Consumption, Mass Healing Word, readied action to attack from Haste.

Quertus
2019-05-17, 05:57 PM
Spend their entire life as a dragon and also still be a dragon. Dragons cast spells while attacking because they're big magical monsters who are naturally good at casting spells as part of maulings.

That's almost useful.

So, my goal becomes to use Dragon blood to breed a new race of super soldier gishes, and use them and their superior action economy to take over the world.


Why should they be able to?

That's exactly my question about the Dragon. :smallwink:


Look, this is something that has gone terribly wrong with D&D: Instead of the rules being there to model the object, the object has to be bent around in such a way that it has to conform with the rules.

Take a look at games that handle "speed" as a real factor, either in the more abstract sense of "Initiative passes" like you get in ShadowRun or World of Darkness, or in a more concrete sense of "tick systems", like Splittermond. Then compare that to the simplified combat round setup you have in 3E+ D&D. You´re old hand at this and repeatedly say that AD&D 2nd is you fav. edition, so you should know how the original idea of the "combat round" was to model all that happens in that particular time frame at once, step by step. Hence why spell casting could be interrupted, how weapon specialization with the 3/2 format works and all of that.

Now "Legendary" and "Lair" actions go beyond the simple action economy of 5E and model what the creature should really be capable of. A fully-fledged Dragon simple has more to offer than your regular Grey Elf Arcane Knight with his bow and puny spells.

If the rules are there to model the object, as you put it, then there should be something definable about the object that gives it this special status in the rules.

Then, when the PCs know that they need to fight a small army of orcs, and such action economy advantages would really come in handy, they should be able to point to that "something", and figure out what they can do to get it.

Gallowglass
2019-05-17, 06:05 PM
Then, when the PCs know that they need to fight a small army of orcs, and such action economy advantages would really come in handy, they should be able to point to that "something", and figure out what they can do to get it.

So i guess what I'm understanding is that you fundamentally are against a system where the NPC enemies have any ability that the PCs can't get if they are willing to put enough resource behind it? I think I understand what you are saying now. YOu are less concerned about the lack of logic to the individual item as you are a fundamental fairness that every entity, player or NPC, should be able to get access to it.

I can understand and respect that. I don't agree with it, but I understand and respect that. If that's what takaleal's players are saying, then I guess they need to go back to 3e and leave 5e.

How do you feel about the monster-only feats from 3e? Do you allow PCs to take them?

OldTrees1
2019-05-17, 06:22 PM
They can feel however they want to feel. But it's six donuts either way. I think it a legitimate conversational purpose to try and point out the reasons why their perception of the problem does not jive with the reality of the situation in the hopes of getting them to change their mind about it.

Yes, if there is no difference, then a discussion with them can lead them away from their objection.
Or there might be a difference that is invisible, or at least a non issue, to us but not to them.

There is a mechanical difference in action order between Legendary actions vs non Legendary actions. That might be a root of the objection. Although the asymmetry is another likely candidate for the root of the objection. Roots for objections to asymmetry are even harder to address IMHO.


how about...

I think its valid to find changed rules troubling as you are still getting used to them. And I think its valid to say "after giving it a try I just like the old way better." ?
Quite diplomatically put. That would be a good way to help diffuse Talakael's social tension.



Hey now! That's signature worthy....
Sure. What you said in that context was obviously right so you were obviously right about that.

Talakeal
2019-05-17, 07:12 PM
How many turns did the Dragon get between PC1's turns? Do you see how that might feel different to PC1 than if the Dragon did all of that on the Dragon's single turn? Do you see why some players might prefer A to B despite you preferring B to A? Several times in this thread posters have explained why Legendary actions might feel worse than non Legendary action solutions. We have done this because Talakeal's players have an objection that Talakeal has forgotten to describe in detail. Each time you replied with "No, think about it like this instead" like you did in the remainder of the post. Knowing why someone might not object is not as useful until we hear why Talakeal's players object. However in the meantime it might be wise if we all recognize some of the possible objections. Instead of saying "No, think about it this way instead". We get it, you do not object to Legendary actions and even like them. I don't object to them and I have tried to be productive by trying to figure out why Talakael's players might object.

Now, rather than saying they can't feel like that. Could we examine possible roots to that criticism and ways to address them other than by saying "No, you are wrong, clearly your 6 donuts are a half dozen donuts." Maybe the players prefer having more time before the enemy can react even at the cost of having the dragon react more at once.

PS: Roughly half of this frustration is at Talakeal rather than you.

Why exactly are you so frustrated?

I am giving all the information my players give me, basically it boils down to "PCs and NPCs playing by different rules just feels unfair."

OldTrees1
2019-05-17, 07:47 PM
Why exactly are you so frustrated?

I am giving all the information my players give me, basically it boils down to "PCs and NPCs playing by different rules just feels unfair."

I was frustrated because I did not know which of the following 2 frustrating cases we were dealing with. Now I am frustrated because it is a frustrating case.
A) Talakeal did not find out why the players dislike the asymmetry. (The case at hand)
B) Talakeal did find out but did not mention it. (Not the case)

From plenty of these previous threads Talakeal, the forum has given you the advice to talk/ask/listen to your players when a disagreement occurs. That fundamental advice helps "socially disarm the situation or mechanically change the rules". In marketing the fundamental rule is "Location Location Location", in DMing the fundamental tool is "Communication Communication Communication"

Ask then why they feel it is unfair. Done right, this lets them know you recognize and respect that they find the asymmetry to be unfair, ALSO it lets them know that you want to understand why it feels unfair, AND it lets them know you want to address their underlying concerns. Once they communicate why it feels unfair, then you can explain the benefits the asymmetry gives you. Once you have done that, then you can together figure out how to create the best possible solution. There might be a really simple solution, but it will only be visible to those that know the situation.

Kyutaru
2019-05-17, 09:47 PM
Why exactly are you so frustrated?

I am giving all the information my players give me, basically it boils down to "PCs and NPCs playing by different rules just feels unfair."
They've given you the reason and yet there's still a lot of arguments here about whether the reason is valid. That's really not for anyone but them to decide. True Polymorph lets you become one of these legendary creatures yet per Monster Manual errata you do NOT gain the legendary actions. Again PCs and NPCs play by different rules and your Wizard-Dragon is only a Half-Dragon.

I'm slightly offended by some of the posts I've seen inferring that this perception is absurd and enjoy even less the continued reference to mechanics when it was flat out stated to be a perception problem. I don't think anyone objecting to legendary actions truly cares about whether it's mechanically similar or not so I'm not sure why that discussion is happening at all. The fact that it's more or less realistic is also not on the table because it's blatant cheating. It has nothing to do with people not being used to the new rules; it has to do with the new rules not being consistent between enemies and allies. Some players actually enjoy planning their turns around a predictable initiative system and even that has been thrown out the window by actions that can happen any time the DM feels like it, regardless of what the creature JUST DID during the occupying time slot as it would appear in the mind.

I've said my piece, the players have said theirs, all that's left is for understanding or solutions. I'm done here and I hope you resolve your dilemma peacefully.

Segev
2019-05-18, 01:28 AM
Writing on my phone, so editing quotes to a manageable length is not feasible right now.

I did not “do it again” or even at all. Telling people that “six” and “a half dozen” are he same thing, and the only difference is the presentation, doesn’t tell them how they feel. It does express why I think they are making a poor choice to feel differently about the two presentations.

I’m not telling anybody how they feel. I may be telling them hat I believe hey should feel differently, and be providing reasons I think they can. It seems like choosing to look at something in a way that makes one upset when one has a way to look at it hat is fine with one is a poor choice. After all, people like being happy more than upset.

OldTrees1
2019-05-18, 02:10 AM
Writing on my phone, so editing quotes to a manageable length is not feasible right now.

We are at an impasse. At this point we will not convince each other so Agree to Disagree.

Plus, it is not like we can help much until Talakeal talks to their players. Even a difference only in the presentation results from some mechanic of the presentation and we need the players to tell us.

Edit: Shortened to increase clarity.

Talakeal
2019-05-18, 08:13 AM
We are at an impasse. At this point we will not convince each other so Agree to Disagree.

Plus, it is not like we can help much until Talakeal talks to their players. Even a difference only in the presentation results from some mechanic of the presentation and we need the players to tell us.

Edit: Shortened to increase clarity.

I have talked to my players, many times. I just talked to them yesterday about the issue.

They do not like it when NPCs and PCs follow different rules.

This has been a problem with my group (some current players and some former players) going back decades. I remember when I ran the original Dragonlance modules which had a rule that the DM only needed to actually keep track of NPC caster's two highest level spell slots and below that just assume they had the spell they needed; I loved this rule because it made very little difference in game but made it so much easier to DM, but my players hated it and when I proposed continuing to use it in future D&D campaigns my players threatened to walk.

Likewise my players have often demanded that I give enemies random attrition to even the playing field; because they have to ration their abilities to go through the dungeon I need to have the monsters already injured and with empty spell slots to keep it fair. This was especially bad in Werewolf where every character has three resource tracks (rage, gnosis, willpower) and the NPCs would often go nova in combat because they were about to die anyway.

I have tried using analogies of other RPGs or tabletop miniatures games where "minions" "heroes" or "monsters" use different rules to explain the necessities of game balance, but they always say that they don't like those rules either,



It doesn't actually seem to be an argument about fairness or verisimilitude or anything like that, merely the idea that different pieces playing by different rules in the same game feels fundamentally wrong to them.



The fact that it's more or less realistic is also not on the table because it's blatant cheating.

Before you go, could you please explain where the blatant cheating is here? We are just following the rules exactly as written.

Florian
2019-05-18, 08:40 AM
That's why my initial advice was the liberal use of a cattle prod with them.

GrayDeath
2019-05-18, 08:55 AM
Just suggesting the blatantly obvious:

if they dislike different Rules for Player Characters and NPC`s THAT much, why dont you just use a system that uses the exact same rules for all of them? :smallconfused:

Talakeal
2019-05-18, 09:05 AM
Just suggesting the blatantly obvious:

if they dislike different Rules for Player Characters and NPC`s THAT much, why dont you just use a system that uses the exact same rules for all of them? :smallconfused:

Because we don't want to find and learn an entirely new system that may or may not be the game we want in other ways?

Heck, even modifyimg the games we do play would be a nightmare for everyone involved as I tend to play games that have "meta-narrative mechanics" like action points and rerolls that would make play slow to a frustrating crawl and be a nightmare to track, not to mention the players would then pitch a fit about the NPCs not having to ration them like they did in Werewolf.

kyoryu
2019-05-18, 09:20 AM
The your players either need to accept that they’re playing an asymmetric game, or acknowledge that they don’t want to and switch to a symmetric game

They don’t get to have their cake and eat it too.

Also it’s worth listening to them a bit more on rules disputes - the responses earlier indicate that they feel you are being unfair in terms of ruling in favor of the enemies when disputes come up. Revealing enemy abilities before battle could help too.

(Note that “attrition rules” are asymmetric anyway.)

Morty
2019-05-18, 01:11 PM
I used to be very firmly on the side of absolute symmetry between PCs and NPCs. I've come to see it much differently now, but I guess I can see where those arguments come from. I just can't agree with them anymore. 3E's biggest illusion isn't that you can be a hero or adventurer in a fantasy land; it's that the rules realistically portray some kind of objective reality. Well, I guess I could understand the desire to have sapient NPC enemies operate under the same rules as PCs. Not so much with dragons and other monsters.

Legendary actions exist to solve a very concrete problem - action economy in boss fights. Unless the boss enemy is overwhelmingly more powerful than the PCs, they can drown it in their own actions. Particularly if they have action denial abilities. It's not like it's a D&D-specific problem, either. In our Dark Heresy game, we had this antagonist who dismantled our melee specialist in close combat when they ended up fighting one on one. But when we fought him later, he went down in a single round to a hail of overwatch fire. Since then our GM has added extra actions in various forms to all bosses. And it's worked much better.

In other words, if you get so hung up on the rules being an accurate representation of the world's physics (which they will never be), you better have some other idea on how to let players have battles against dragons, vampire lords and what have you.

OldTrees1
2019-05-18, 01:37 PM
I have talked to my players, many times. I just talked to them yesterday about the issue.

They do not like it when NPCs and PCs follow different rules.

So there is no underlying reason. Huh, I did not predict that. There were myriad possible underlying reasons, but sometimes something is the reason itself.

Well in that case have you considered making the enemies using the PC rules, judging their CR via the NPC rules, and then treating them as real entities that use some of their resources each day? Maybe notice how few resources the PCs use on their downtime days and apply that as a reasonable attrition to NPCs in the NPC's base. Maybe walk the players through the process once or twice so the players could see how much more effort it is to create a humanoid boss, and then a Dragon using PC rules than it is using NPC rules. Showing them the waste of time might help them empathize with you and suggest better solutions / compromises.

If there had been an underlying reason, then you could try to have your cake and eat it too. But if that is the root of the matter, then the solution is the clunky one.

Florian
2019-05-18, 03:42 PM
So there is no underlying reason.

There is. It looks like the player see themselves in competition with the GM, so they demand "fair play". That's also why they react so badly when monster abilities get changed or monsters act in a way that is closed to characters. Overall, that's a pretty stupid and toxic approach to gaming that will lead nowhere.

kyoryu
2019-05-18, 04:16 PM
There is. It looks like the player see themselves in competition with the GM, so they demand "fair play". That's also why they react so badly when monster abilities get changed or monsters act in a way that is closed to characters. Overall, that's a pretty stupid and toxic approach to gaming that will lead nowhere.

Eh they seem to like the tactical approach in gaming and do not like it when they are surprised by abilities that they didn’t expect.

That’s why I suggested just basically showing the stat blocks at the beginning of combat.

Cluedrew
2019-05-18, 06:39 PM
I find the idea that everyone acts in discrete turns to be extremely gamist and immersion breaking to begin with, and the idea of something taking its actions gradually over time rather than in one distinct burst of activity actually helps with my view of the narrative.Me too, I like combat systems that mess with that at least a little bit. And we are willingly to not be competitive about it, just through out turn order and figure out who goes next straight from friction.

Have you considered asking them to solve the problem? Outline what you want from legendary actions and offer to try* any solution they can find to those problems? I feel it is a long shot but... maybe it will work.

* From previous stories be very explicate about the possibility of going back to the old rules if it doesn't work out.


So there is no underlying reason. Huh, I did not predict that. There were myriad possible underlying reasons, but sometimes something is the reason itself.It may be the root cause (or the root cause is "this is what I am used to and changing it pulls me out of my comfort zone") but I feel they haven't quite been able to put their figure on why yet. It might be "universe consistency" but since its Talakeal's players I want to say it is a desire to win and strip their foes of any advantage. I may be misjudging them.

OldTrees1
2019-05-18, 06:57 PM
There is. It looks like the player see themselves in competition with the GM, so they demand "fair play". That's also why they react so badly when monster abilities get changed or monsters act in a way that is closed to characters. Overall, that's a pretty stupid and toxic approach to gaming that will lead nowhere.

Sigh
1) Of the possible underlying reasons there are plenty of non toxic reasons. Including many guesses listed in this thread. Please don't presume malice when there is equal likelihood of virtue or at least neutral reasons instead.
2) Talakeal is the only one with first hand knowledge. If they say there is no underlying reason, we have no way to disprove that to Talakeal unless Talakeal gives information that contradicts their statement.

Segev
2019-05-18, 10:15 PM
The rules are the same. Just let them play monsters if they want to. It may take some eyeballing of the balance for a bit, but the only thing stopping it from being “the same rules” is the line of “no PCs may take these races/builds.”

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-18, 10:57 PM
I'd be interested in whether / how much gamers' opinions on whether NPCs and PCs should use the same rules varies based on what subsection of the game is in question.

Character creation?

Combat?

Social interactions? (Including NPC vs NPC.)

Skill uses (such as determining whether an NPC succeeds at a task they're doing for a PC).

Etc.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-18, 11:02 PM
I'd be interested in whether / how much gamers' opinions on whether NPCs and PCs should use the same rules based on what subsection of the game is in question.Etc.

It depends on the game. I don't think there's a "right" way to do it.

OldTrees1
2019-05-18, 11:58 PM
I'd be interested in whether / how much gamers' opinions on whether NPCs and PCs should use the same rules based on what subsection of the game is in question.

Koo Rehtorb is right. Which way the pros and cons balance out depends on the intentions of that game session or moment.

Character Creation:
1) Balance is hard either way-
Both symmetry and asymmetry create different balancing hardships for me as a DM. D&D 3rd edition used mostly symmetry but tried to articulate the difference in calculating balance for PCs vs NPCs because other circumstances (like attrition and lifespan) would be asymmetric. In contrast D&D 5th edition used an asymmetric system. To support the symmetry 3rd edition had to clearly communicate intuitions about how to calculate the balance and we still had to worry about WotC being bad at estimating ECL for monstrous PC races. In contrast 5th edition is easier for me to create a balanced NPC but has not communicated the intuitions, so I have to blindly rely on the calculators while my intuitions break numerous presumptions. How can an archmage be an appropriate encounter for low level PCs.
2) Asymmetry allows for faster NPC generation. This can be quite useful if you are making lots of NPCs.
3) Symmetry allows players to use the cool things monsters get. There is a reason people played Monstrous PC races in 3rd edition. It might be neat to play a beholder, and I don't mean a dwarf "refluffed" as a beholder. Symmetry makes this much easier to adjudicate as a DM.

Combat:
Obviously it matters to some players. I am ambivalent between using a multi tiered NPC group VS using legendary actions to solve the action economy imbalance. If I were better at balancing I might even permit the action economy imbalance.

Social Interactions:
NPC vs PC is sometimes mechanically supported (Save vs Charm) and sometimes Roleplayed (Tell players the argument the NPC tells the PCs). Everyone find a different place to draw this line. I have drawn a similar line in the case of PC vs PC interactions. I could definitely see drawing a line in the case of NPC vs NPC interactions. Especially if the possibility of failure might impact the outcome of a PC plan. Say if the PCs have alerted the Queen about the Viser's innocence, the Queen might actually roll a save vs the Butler's domination spell. All in all I definitely lean towards symmetry in this case for all the major agents. The background characters background interactions still don't need rolls ever (too many dice).

Skill uses:
Yeah, I could definitely see using symmetry for skill uses. If a check does not need a roll, it does not matter if the character is a NPC or a PC. If the check needs a roll, then the character rolls it. Especially if the result impacts a PC's plan.

Etc.:
No. There needs to be an absolute asymmetry between the PCs and NPCs on the use of the word etc. The word frequency of "etc" should be a universal constant for all characters in the realm.

Conclusion:
I generally see symmetry as more useful for my gaming situation. However I have mutually exclusive desires in Character Creation and ambivalence in Combat. Furthermore I can imagine different valid gaming styles that would differ from me on each point.

NichG
2019-05-19, 01:33 AM
I'd be interested in whether / how much gamers' opinions on whether NPCs and PCs should use the same rules based on what subsection of the game is in question.

Character creation?

Combat?

Social interactions? (Including NPC vs NPC.)

Skill uses (such as determining whether an NPC succeeds at a task they're doing for a PC).

Etc.

I tend to strongly prefer asymmetry in rules as well as campaigns in which the rules are mutable/extensible (and where that transformation is an expected part of play). But at the same time, I prefer strong narrative consistency (which does not mean symmetry, but symmetry violations can impinge on it in some cases). I tend to see the rules as a metagame construct first and foremost, rather than as describing the world first and foremost with the metagame consequences following from there.

The GM could run a game by only ever describing in-character experiences and never say a word about anything else, leading people to draw right or wrong conclusions about how even their own character works. But as a metagame conceit, it is useful (for planning, feeling of agency, etc) for some of those things to not be left uncertain. Having players be unaware of how their characters' work tends to be more to the detriment of the game than to its benefit in most cases, so even if it would be more realistic if no one actually got to know the rules by which their character functions, it's beneficial to issue a guarantee: 'this is how your stuff functions, so you can figure out what actions to take or how to build your character'. It makes for a much better game that way, but not because of realism or verisimilitude - it's actually (in my view at least) entirely a game-level consideration.

When the GM specifies something as a rule rather than describing an in-character point of view or experience, to me they're saying 'I would like you to be able to take this as a guarantee of how something will work going forward'. Not everything in the world has to be covered by such guarantees, and each such guarantee can have a limited context for which it holds. Having an explicit guarantee about how an NPC's abilities work can be metagame-beneficial in some contexts, just as not having that guarantee can be beneficial in other contexts.

Instead of saying that 'the rules should be symmetric', I would tend to say that 'the GM should commit to the natural consequences of the fiction that they introduce'. So it's fine if an NPC has different stats and skills than my character, but if that difference leads to some consequences at the level of the fiction in one context, then those consequences should be carried forward to other contexts in which they would logically still apply. For example, if it's established that there's a character in the setting who is narratively established as being able to freely edit the past and no one else can do anything to acquire that ability, that's fine. But if my character is interacting with them, that ability shouldn't suddenly go away just because I might convince them to edit the past on my behalf for example. Or if there's an enemy who can narratively tank nukes and punch out cities, if I convince them to join the side of the PCs they shouldn't suddenly become vulnerable to things that wouldn't have harmed them before.

Florian
2019-05-19, 02:00 AM
I'd be interested in whether / how much gamers' opinions on whether NPCs and PCs should use the same rules based on what subsection of the game is in question.

It will largely depend on what the actual game is and how it is supposed to be played. It´s also very dependent on how and what the rules are used for in the first place.

For example, a game with a heavy focus on "balanced combat" and with a tight mechanical structure supporting this, cannot really use the same character generation rules for PCs and for NPCs. A, say, CR 6 Harpy has a stat core that is based around the fixed structure of "CR 6 normal skirmisher" with added features that model what makes the harpy different from other "CR 6 normal skirmisher" monsters, so wings, stinks a lot and such. Reason being that the Harpy is purpose-build

The again, even a game with deep roots in "model in-game reality" can have some problems here, unless you play a very human-centric game. A Troll will be way more powerful, robust and enduring than a Human, including the archetypical regeneration ability. There's nothing "unfair" about it, it´s just the difference between Human and Troll, expressed in stats.

The same differences crop up in other areas of the game, too. A game with a focus on "model in-game reality" will most likely be heavily based on modeling actions and tasks and use a task-based resolution mechanic. The tasks of "cook a meal" or "weave a basket" should be universal and resolved in an identical way across the board, for example by using the cooking skill in an identical way - grilling a steak will always be, say, DC 10.

That would be different in a "challenged-based approach", similar to "balanced combat". Most likely, the game will then use various sub-systems, like "social", "exploration", "chases" and such, with the internal logic being build around the difficulty and complexity of the whole "challenge", while skills are the necessary interface to interact with it, but by themselves reflecting nothing.

So, overall, I think it´s mood unless we talk about the nature of the game first.

Quertus
2019-05-19, 07:49 PM
So i guess what I'm understanding is that you fundamentally are against a system where the NPC enemies have any ability that the PCs can't get if they are willing to put enough resource behind it? I think I understand what you are saying now. YOu are less concerned about the lack of logic to the individual item as you are a fundamental fairness that every entity, player or NPC, should be able to get access to it.

I can understand and respect that. I don't agree with it, but I understand and respect that. If that's what takaleal's players are saying, then I guess they need to go back to 3e and leave 5e.

How do you feel about the monster-only feats from 3e? Do you allow PCs to take them?

This took some thought.

Suppose we were to make an RPG about an antimatter / dark matter / whatever universe invading the "normal" universe. Suppose that, in this game, brings from the various universes literally follow different laws of physics.

In that scenario, I would have no problem with different universe characters having different abilities.

If one could only play PCs from one universe, I might grumble a bit (why can't I play CoC as the Cthulhu monsters? Trying to achieve my goals in an alien land while hiding from investigators sounds fun), but I could accept it.

If physics says that a dragon gets lots of attacks/actions because of its size and shape, and PCs can Polymorph to attain that size and shape, but do not get the attacks/actions, then the logic falls apart.

Sure, you could claim that it's a matter of training, of skill at using the form - but then that just leads to a desire for rules about practicing with a form, or spells to emulate / steal / remove skill at a form. If no Wizard has ever developed a spell to make a dragon feel awkward in its own body, and therefore lost its Legendary Actions, then the setting just feels dumb. The setting shouldn't have to hold the idiot ball to not fall apart.

Everything that is a part of the setting should be able to be interacted with.


I have talked to my players, many times. I just talked to them yesterday about the issue.

They do not like it when NPCs and PCs follow different rules.

This has been a problem with my group (some current players and some former players) going back decades. I remember when I ran the original Dragonlance modules which had a rule that the DM only needed to actually keep track of NPC caster's two highest level spell slots and below that just assume they had the spell they needed; I loved this rule because it made very little difference in game but made it so much easier to DM, but my players hated it and when I proposed continuing to use it in future D&D campaigns my players threatened to walk.

Likewise my players have often demanded that I give enemies random attrition to even the playing field; because they have to ration their abilities to go through the dungeon I need to have the monsters already injured and with empty spell slots to keep it fair. This was especially bad in Werewolf where every character has three resource tracks (rage, gnosis, willpower) and the NPCs would often go nova in combat because they were about to die anyway.

I agree with your players. My monsters / NPCs are often wounded / not at full capacity, and do not treat this as their one and only appearance in the world.


For example, if it's established that there's a character in the setting who is narratively established as being able to freely edit the past and no one else can do anything to acquire that ability, that's fine. But if my character is interacting with them, that ability shouldn't suddenly go away just because I might convince them to edit the past on my behalf for example. Or if there's an enemy who can narratively tank nukes and punch out cities, if I convince them to join the side of the PCs they shouldn't suddenly become vulnerable to things that wouldn't have harmed them before.

This type of shenanigans can certainly lead to the desire for PC / NPC symmetry.


It will largely depend on what the actual game is and how it is supposed to be played. It´s also very dependent on how and what the rules are used for in the first place.

For example, a game with a heavy focus on "balanced combat" and with a tight mechanical structure supporting this, cannot really use the same character generation rules for PCs and for NPCs.

You've just described war games, which absolutely can and generally do use the same character generation rules for PCs and for NPCs*.

*To the extent that such have NPCs

The Glyphstone
2019-05-19, 07:52 PM
Last month (or was it two months ago?), the problem in the Gaming Group From Bizarro World was that they were retreating back to town after every fight to ensure they were had maximum resources. Now they want every fight they encounter to also be depleted of a % of their health/resources/spells?

Max_Killjoy
2019-05-19, 08:01 PM
I tend to strongly prefer asymmetry in rules as well as campaigns in which the rules are mutable/extensible (and where that transformation is an expected part of play). But at the same time, I prefer strong narrative consistency (which does not mean symmetry, but symmetry violations can impinge on it in some cases). I tend to see the rules as a metagame construct first and foremost, rather than as describing the world first and foremost with the metagame consequences following from there.

The GM could run a game by only ever describing in-character experiences and never say a word about anything else, leading people to draw right or wrong conclusions about how even their own character works. But as a metagame conceit, it is useful (for planning, feeling of agency, etc) for some of those things to not be left uncertain. Having players be unaware of how their characters' work tends to be more to the detriment of the game than to its benefit in most cases, so even if it would be more realistic if no one actually got to know the rules by which their character functions, it's beneficial to issue a guarantee: 'this is how your stuff functions, so you can figure out what actions to take or how to build your character'. It makes for a much better game that way, but not because of realism or verisimilitude - it's actually (in my view at least) entirely a game-level consideration.

When the GM specifies something as a rule rather than describing an in-character point of view or experience, to me they're saying 'I would like you to be able to take this as a guarantee of how something will work going forward'. Not everything in the world has to be covered by such guarantees, and each such guarantee can have a limited context for which it holds. Having an explicit guarantee about how an NPC's abilities work can be metagame-beneficial in some contexts, just as not having that guarantee can be beneficial in other contexts.

Instead of saying that 'the rules should be symmetric', I would tend to say that 'the GM should commit to the natural consequences of the fiction that they introduce'. So it's fine if an NPC has different stats and skills than my character, but if that difference leads to some consequences at the level of the fiction in one context, then those consequences should be carried forward to other contexts in which they would logically still apply. For example, if it's established that there's a character in the setting who is narratively established as being able to freely edit the past and no one else can do anything to acquire that ability, that's fine. But if my character is interacting with them, that ability shouldn't suddenly go away just because I might convince them to edit the past on my behalf for example. Or if there's an enemy who can narratively tank nukes and punch out cities, if I convince them to join the side of the PCs they shouldn't suddenly become vulnerable to things that wouldn't have harmed them before.

This is related to one of the faults that crops up in video games and comic books, where antagonists seem to lose a chunk of their power once they become a protagonist or temporarily take on a protagonistic role.

So the character who was barely beatable with the combined efforts of all the heroes, suddenly becomes no more powerful than any one of them, or joins sides with them only to get punked when he/she is jobbed to hype the big threat of the current story. The character who was "cut scene awesome" when they were out of the player's hands becomes a creampuff once they're actually recruited.

In fact this fault in fiction and games is so common that it has its own page (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RedemptionDemotion?from=Main.HeelFaceDowngrade).

Quertus
2019-05-19, 08:56 PM
Last month (or was it two months ago?), the problem in the Gaming Group From Bizarro World was that they were retreating back to town after every fight to ensure they were had maximum resources. Now they want every fight they encounter to also be depleted of a % of their health/resources/spells?

Oh, wow, I missed that - that's so funny when you put those together!

Of course, it could be two different players driving those two things…

Cluedrew
2019-05-19, 09:11 PM
Sure, you could claim that it's a matter of training, of skill at using the form - but then that just leads to a desire for rules about practicing with a form, or spells to emulate / steal / remove skill at a form. If no Wizard has ever developed a spell to make a dragon feel awkward in its own body, and therefore lost its Legendary Actions, then the setting just feels dumb. The setting shouldn't have to hold the idiot ball to not fall apart.But to do that aren't you messing with the control of there own body? Why not just turn it off completely and kill them then? Or why not use that to rob other wizards of there ability to cast spells?

I mean really if you are using D&D magic to try and poke holes in a setting... I mean this is off topic but yeah... I don't think too highly of D&D's magic system.

To Talakeal: Is this the same group as that last thread? I had assumed that but I just realized I am not sure if it was actually said.

NichG
2019-05-19, 10:15 PM
This type of shenanigans can certainly lead to the desire for PC / NPC symmetry.

Maybe, but my point was that this is a consistency issue rather than a symmetry issue. You can get very inconsistent results from forcing symmetry too.

In 3.5ed, lots of stuff ends up being tied together through a common abstraction of hit points - characters have them, NPCs have them, objects have them, terrain has them. Similarly, everything resists non-hitpoint effects through saving throws. This leads to a number of incoherent results regarding e.g. doing enough damage to kill the planet, or destroying the planet with a spell that specifies 'one object' while forgetting to put volume or weight limits.

So in that case, the resulting fiction makes more sense if you say e.g. 'damage as an abstraction only applies to things of similar scale; if you start punching things more than a few orders of magnitude bigger than you, it will work differently - whether that happens to be a creature or an object'.

Lucas Yew
2019-05-19, 10:27 PM
This is related to one of the faults that crops up in video games and comic books, where antagonists seem to lose a chunk of their power once they become a protagonist or temporarily take on a protagonistic role.

So the character who was barely beatable with the combined efforts of all the heroes, suddenly because no more powerful than any one of them, or joins sides with them only to get punked when he/she is jobbed to hype the big threat of the current story. The character who was "cut scene awesome" when they were out of the player's hands becomes a creampuff once they're actually recruited.

In fact this fault in fiction and games is so common that it has its own page (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RedemptionDemotion).

Yup, was going to talk about FF6's Umaro case when you posted this faster. And it ultimately made me despise the NPC asymmetry prevalent in JRPGs, then an avid "simulationist" in table RPGs years later when I learned about 3.X and GURPS, which was WAY AFTER my first contact with 4E Essentials...

Quertus
2019-05-19, 10:41 PM
But to do that aren't you messing with the control of there own body? Why not just turn it off completely and kill them then? Or why not use that to rob other wizards of there ability to cast spells?

I mean really if you are using D&D magic to try and poke holes in a setting... I mean this is off topic but yeah... I don't think too highly of D&D's magic system.

Most systems have "degree of success", "more effect requires more power", "easier to resist", or some similar "balancing" mechanic. So "remove training in your body" would be an easier effect (lower level D&D spell) than "stop heart" - especially since the former spell only imposes IIRC a -2 penalty for most D&D creatures.


Maybe, but my point was that this is a consistency issue rather than a symmetry issue. You can get very inconsistent results from forcing symmetry too.

In 3.5ed, lots of stuff ends up being tied together through a common abstraction of hit points - characters have them, NPCs have them, objects have them, terrain has them. Similarly, everything resists non-hitpoint effects through saving throws. This leads to a number of incoherent results regarding e.g. doing enough damage to kill the planet, or destroying the planet with a spell that specifies 'one object' while forgetting to put volume or weight limits.

So in that case, the resulting fiction makes more sense if you say e.g. 'damage as an abstraction only applies to things of similar scale; if you start punching things more than a few orders of magnitude bigger than you, it will work differently - whether that happens to be a creature or an object'.

Hmmm… it's actually rather tricky for me to express my opinion when juxtaposed with yours. Because I mostly agree, and explaining the differences will be confusing.

The simple answer is, logical or not, the inconsistencies you described *could* lead to a desire for symmetry. That's all I was saying. People can and often do blame the wrong thing for their problems. Seemed appropriate to say in light of Talakeal's issues.

As to symmetry causing inconsistency… I guess I find it slightly easier to accept "it's an abstraction", given that humans habitually oversimplify bloody everything, than to have mega damage, or hit points vs hull points, or size-based damage, or whatever, that adds more complexity for diminishing returns. Or, rather, that I acknowledge and accept that it is a choice, rather than a "only one possible right answer" scenario.

NichG
2019-05-20, 12:16 AM
Hmmm… it's actually rather tricky for me to express my opinion when juxtaposed with yours. Because I mostly agree, and explaining the differences will be confusing.

The simple answer is, logical or not, the inconsistencies you described *could* lead to a desire for symmetry. That's all I was saying. People can and often do blame the wrong thing for their problems. Seemed appropriate to say in light of Talakeal's issues.

True. But if it is an instance of the players blaming the wrong thing, I'd be less inclined to just accede to the explicit request that they're making.



As to symmetry causing inconsistency… I guess I find it slightly easier to accept "it's an abstraction", given that humans habitually oversimplify bloody everything, than to have mega damage, or hit points vs hull points, or size-based damage, or whatever, that adds more complexity for diminishing returns. Or, rather, that I acknowledge and accept that it is a choice, rather than a "only one possible right answer" scenario.

Yeah, it's very natural for me to say 'everything is an abstraction' since I'm very used to working in physics where basically you know that everything is wrong, but at the same time even those wrong things are very strongly consistent with each-other (e.g. Newtonian mechanics is 'wrong', but you can derive it from both relativity and quantum mechanics). So that consistency property is more important to me than believing that a rule I'm told represents the actual underlying truth of the game reality. So if someone says 'the monster has 12 hitpoints', I'm fine with also being told 'actually, health isn't really a universal scalar, quantized value in the fictional reality of this world and if you start playing around with cat scratches and Cure Minor Wounds you'd quickly find that things are more nuanced than that - but we're just using this as a shorthand to quickly generate outcomes where the nuances don't really matter.'

DrKerosene
2019-05-20, 01:27 AM
But to do that aren't you messing with the control of there own body? Why not just turn it off completely and kill them then? Or why not use that to rob other wizards of there ability to cast spells?.

I feel like a number of things in the quote by Quertus, and suggested by you, can be achieved with Bestow Curse in 5e. Assuming the creature has no more Legendary Saves (which I think are just Portent Dice with DM fiat on the number rolled).

Bestow Curse is a much lower spell than ones that might be able to “instantly kill”. Maybe uses of Hex, or Wish, or other spells, can also be used to debuff a Dragon until a whiny-Player is happy with how awkward the Dragon is acting.

Talakeal
2019-05-20, 07:57 AM
Another instance of this; I use innate bonuses for NPCs because it saves a ton of time on my end and makes it mich easier to balance character wealth.

It seems like every few weeks I have a player freak out about how unfair this is, and I have to sit down and go through the math step by step to convince them that the innate bonuses are no stronger than standard WBL.




I agree with your players. My monsters / NPCs are often wounded / not at full capacity, and do not treat this as their one and only appearance in the world.

Out of curiosity, are you talking people who have a storyline reason to be wounded, or just randomly?

The idea of randomly inflcting wounds on enemies for versimilitude reasons seems hollow to me, as the HP system is so abstract and random to begin with. Especially if you are using the default stats from the MM and ignoring individuality to begin with.

In my mind doing so is just creating a ton of needless work for the DM and, unless you are compensating so ehow, turns the game into easy mode (which I suspect is what the players really want).

Talakeal
2019-05-20, 07:58 AM
Last month (or was it two months ago?), the problem in the Gaming Group From Bizarro World was that they were retreating back to town after every fight to ensure they were had maximum resources. Now they want every fight they encounter to also be depleted of a % of their health/resources/spells?

Some of the same players, although the guys who were really vocal about it have long since left the group.

Quertus
2019-05-20, 09:31 AM
Out of curiosity, are you talking people who have a storyline reason to be wounded, or just randomly?

The idea of randomly inflcting wounds on enemies for versimilitude reasons seems hollow to me, as the HP system is so abstract and random to begin with. Especially if you are using the default stats from the MM and ignoring individuality to begin with.

In my mind doing so is just creating a ton of needless work for the DM and, unless you are compensating so ehow, turns the game into easy mode (which I suspect is what the players really want).

Oh, never because "the story demands it" or "it would make for a better story" - only because it follows game physics for damage to happen. NPCs - and random encounters - have random encounters, too.

Also, the PCs can see signs of where other things have had random encounters.

Sometimes, in a murder mystery, the suspect really did just cut themselves with a knife in the kitchen.

Characters are doing their own thing - they don't just exist while the PCs watch them.

Cluedrew
2019-05-20, 09:51 AM
To Quertus and DrKerosene: As it is off topic I have filled the issue away for (hopefully) a future thread.

To Talakeal: I think the (a?) innate problem here is your players to not trust you. I mean we are all human and make mistakes, but here they seem to be assuming anything they don't immediately see & understand. I don't have a solution, or even really know if it is true, but I suspect it is a problem.

Talakeal
2019-05-20, 09:51 AM
Oh, never because "the story demands it" or "it would make for a better story" - only because it follows game physics for damage to happen. NPCs - and random encounters - have random encounters, too.

Also, the PCs can see signs of where other things have had random encounters.

Sometimes, in a murder mystery, the suspect really did just cut themselves with a knife in the kitchen.

Characters are going their own thing - they don't just exist while the PCs watch them.

Trying to show evidence of a previous battle would be a storyline reason.

Segev
2019-05-20, 10:19 AM
The majority of the "spend X resources on a dungeon day of mulitple encounters" scenarios have it make no sense that monsters would be depleted of resources. They're in their own lairs, minding their own business, until the PCs attack. The expectation here is that PCs are just that much more powerful than the monsters, that a full-strength monster group is 1/4 of the PCs' resources to take down from full.

I agree, it sounds like your players don't trust you. You should ask them why this is, and seriously consider handing the reins of DMing over to somebody else if it's making all of you this miserable. Not necessarily because you're "bad at DMing," but because they may need to have a chance to sit in the seat and try it "their way" to get a feel for what it looks like from your side of the table. It may help rebuild trust if they see what DMs are doing behind the scenes as they have to do it, themselves.

kyoryu
2019-05-20, 10:49 AM
There’s a repeated theme here where it sounds like your players think you’re pulling unfair stuff out of the blue to mess with them. That’s a trust issue, fundamentally.

High transparency is usually the best way to handle that. Show stat blocks. Tell them you’re using intrinsic bonuses before you use them. Do so proactively. Let there be fewer surprises in terms of creature abilities.

Fable Wright
2019-05-20, 01:53 PM
Step 1: Declare you need a break from this.

Step 2: Request that each player run a 2-shot adventure while you're out.

Step 3: They now have SOME frame of reference to your reality, and you can use that to communicate why you think your changes improve the experience.

Quertus
2019-05-20, 02:24 PM
To Quertus and DrKerosene: As it is off topic I have filled the issue away for (hopefully) a future thread.

I would like to think that expanding the horizons of a GM who is not just stuck in a rut, but explicitly wants out of said rut, would be on topic.

That said, I think people are probably right labeling this a trust issue, and that is probably a better area to focus on.


To Talakeal: I think the (a?) innate problem here is your players to not trust you. I mean we are all human and make mistakes, but here they seem to be assuming anything they don't immediately see & understand. I don't have a solution, or even really know if it is true, but I suspect it is a problem.

I have a few ideas that may help Talakeal. Hopefully, this will go smoother than the first time I discussed my techniques for building trust.

So, ideally, I put something that should seem wrong in the very first session. The goal is for the players to figure it out (so it's like adding a free murder mystery to an otherwise "normal" adventure). If they don't get it, then, at the end of the first session, I explain it to them - including what actions they could have taken to learn it for them selves.

It's kinda the GM dating period. It's establishing the communications protocol, explaining how I think.

Groups that sync well with me, they'll ask, "you know everyone in the mayor's position in the culture you seem to be basing this area on would have a liquor cabinet - did you mean to leave it out of your description?". And when I say, "sure, that does seem odd to your character that the mayor doesn't have one", they know that the game's afoot.

However, this is for things I do that follow the rules. It doesn't cover things like fairyland Ogres with breath weapons. For things like that, your best bet is to print out a copy of the session's campaign notes, set them on the table in a sealed envelope, and hand them out at the end of the session.

Also, I'd recommend letting everyone run some one-shots, to let you see first hand exactly how they would run a game. This will facilitate communication about gaming styles better than most other techniques.


Trying to show evidence of a previous battle would be a storyline reason.

I mean, if that were the purpose, perhaps it would. But it's not. The purpose is to follow game physics. The previous battle is simply a red herring - but a useful one, that can teach them about the area, and give various characters a chance to shine.

NichG
2019-05-20, 10:13 PM
I mean, if that were the purpose, perhaps it would. But it's not. The purpose is to follow game physics. The previous battle is simply a red herring - but a useful one, that can teach them about the area, and give various characters a chance to shine.

Ironically, this is probably more an example of an asymmetry than a symmetry. If the antagonists have a 50% chance of entering a fight wounded, lets say, then that means that they're ostensibly engaged in an encounter difficult enough to cause them enough that a few hours of rest doesn't heal it every other day on average. Meaning that, if they were really using symmetric rules with the PCs, then they should be gaining a level roughly once per month. You could run a campaign where you write down a list of all of the antagonists and their forces ahead of time, and once a month (regardless of whether they have interacted with the PCs yet), everyone's level goes up by one. But it would be a brutally difficult campaign since now, if the party ever spends a month of downtime or a month travelling without dense encounters, they're permanently 1 level behind the curve.

There's an implicit asymmetry here - PCs level, the world doesn't. And it's one that's important to maintain game balance.

I suspect Talakeal's players would hate it if this particular asymmetry were made symmetric or if e.g. Talakeal spent as much effort optimizing each enemy as a player is likely to spend on their build.

Quertus
2019-05-21, 05:52 AM
Ironically, this is probably more an example of an asymmetry than a symmetry. If the antagonists have a 50% chance of entering a fight wounded, lets say, then that means that they're ostensibly engaged in an encounter difficult enough to cause them enough that a few hours of rest doesn't heal it every other day on average. Meaning that, if they were really using symmetric rules with the PCs, then they should be gaining a level roughly once per month. You could run a campaign where you write down a list of all of the antagonists and their forces ahead of time, and once a month (regardless of whether they have interacted with the PCs yet), everyone's level goes up by one. But it would be a brutally difficult campaign since now, if the party ever spends a month of downtime or a month travelling without dense encounters, they're permanently 1 level behind the curve.

There's an implicit asymmetry here - PCs level, the world doesn't. And it's one that's important to maintain game balance.

I suspect Talakeal's players would hate it if this particular asymmetry were made symmetric or if e.g. Talakeal spent as much effort optimizing each enemy as a player is likely to spend on their build.

I mean, not only does my world level, I've had antagonists (and allies) die off-camera.

The PCs aren't the only active players in the world.

It would be interesting to see if his players hated "optimization" as much as "customization" - and wether either hated went away if Talakeal handed them the whole printed module at the start of the campaign, before they even made their characters, so it didn't feel like he was "cheating" to specifically counter their characters / actions, like the Fairytale Ogre seemingly did.

EDIT: "optimization" is arguably part of the "the PCs are supposed to be special, as opposed to these mere NPCs", just like PC vs NPC classes. So the GM optimizing the NPCs could be argued to be "cheating" from a tone PoV. Much like Cluedrew, I question the relevance of this topic to the current thread, but it might make it's own interesting thread, of are the PCs special, and how do we set that tone? Because, honestly, often, a few of my NPCs are *more* optimized than the PCs - though that does not necessarily make them especially powerful or important, as it may merely be a highly optimized 3rd level town guard or something. There are other heroes (or those with hero potential) in my worlds besides the PCs.

Cluedrew
2019-05-21, 06:59 AM
I would like to think that expanding the horizons of a GM who is not just stuck in a rut, but explicitly wants out of said rut, would be on topic.Is that what we were talking about? In which case yes, go beyond D&D and D&D like systems. However I was mostly talking about how the magic system is most of the setting problems for D&D (to the fact it is ignored most of the time in books) so loosely speaking if magic + other is a setting problem, usually that is magic's fault and not the other thing's. But the details will wait for a different thread, I just wanted to get the original point across.

NichG
2019-05-21, 08:06 AM
I mean, not only does my world level, I've had antagonists (and allies) die off-camera.

The PCs aren't the only active players in the world.


The question is more, does your world level the way that PCs level? It's one thing to say 'roughly, it makes sense that someone in the army would gain a level per year spent during war', but it's another thing to say 'every 12 CR-appropriate encounters is a level, and during adventures the suggested rate is 4 encounters per opportunity to rest, therefore roughly every three life or death incidents in a creature's life is a level'. The former gets you something like NPC demographics with the PCs as an anomaly, the latter gets you a few hundred surviving Lv20 kobolds/orcs/etc and everyone else turned into XP after a few years.

I think you're right to mention tone - asymmetry is a powerful tool in establishing a diversity of tones, because it lets you set up and sustain contact between unlike things. Something like the feeling of a guerilla war, or exploring the unknown, or dealing with horrors from beyond, or holding a town against a billion zombies - the contrasts that make them interesting come from asymmetries in the setup.



It would be interesting to see if his players hated "optimization" as much as "customization" - and wether either hated went away if Talakeal handed them the whole printed module at the start of the campaign, before they even made their characters, so it didn't feel like he was "cheating" to specifically counter their characters / actions, like the Fairytale Ogre seemingly did.

EDIT: "optimization" is arguably part of the "the PCs are supposed to be special, as opposed to these mere NPCs", just like PC vs NPC classes. So the GM optimizing the NPCs could be argued to be "cheating" from a tone PoV. Much like Cluedrew, I question the relevance of this topic to the current thread, but it might make it's own interesting thread, of are the PCs special, and how do we set that tone? Because, honestly, often, a few of my NPCs are *more* optimized than the PCs - though that does not necessarily make them especially powerful or important, as it may merely be a highly optimized 3rd level town guard or something. There are other heroes (or those with hero potential) in my worlds besides the PCs.

My read is that if the players are complaining about the wrong things, its originating from the fact that they don't feel in control and want to feel in control. They might identify that with the fact that the GM could pull something that they can't anticipate and there's nothing they can do to guard against that situation, or that they want to feel like they're winning rather than struggling to keep their head above water, or that gameplay keeps going in directions they don't like and they don't know how to prevent it. So calling for symmetry or transparency or RAW or 'no railroading' are all attempts to put words to that feeling, but (I think) they're likely dancing around the underlying issue of feeling powerless. That's why I suspect that even if the GM made things perfectly by the book but powerful enough to easily push the party around (using e.g. high end practical optimization cheese), the players would discover that all the symmetry, transparency, etc they ask for wouldn't actually make them happy, since it would only make that feeling of powerlessness worse.

Rationally, the NPCs in the setting could all be pulling Team Solars shenanigans by the rules that players follow. But that usually doesn't make for good gaming (unless the players are already operating in that space), even if it's technically in some sense legitimate.

Talakeal
2019-05-21, 09:55 AM
I mean, if that were the purpose, perhaps it would. But it's not. The purpose is to follow game physics. The previous battle is simply a red herring - but a useful one, that can teach them about the area, and give various characters a chance to shine.

Still not quite following.

Unless you are just saying that it follows versimilitude that NPCs would have random encounters while traveling thriugh a dangerous area, which is technically true but probably not actually realistic most of the time.



Ironically, this is probably more an example of an asymmetry than a symmetry. If the antagonists have a 50% chance of entering a fight wounded, lets say, then that means that they're ostensibly engaged in an encounter difficult enough to cause them enough that a few hours of rest doesn't heal it every other day on average. Meaning that, if they were really using symmetric rules with the PCs, then they should be gaining a level roughly once per month. You could run a campaign where you write down a list of all of the antagonists and their forces ahead of time, and once a month (regardless of whether they have interacted with the PCs yet), everyone's level goes up by one. But it would be a brutally difficult campaign since now, if the party ever spends a month of downtime or a month travelling without dense encounters, they're permanently 1 level behind the curve.

There's an implicit asymmetry here - PCs level, the world doesn't. And it's one that's important to maintain game balance.

I suspect Talakeal's players would hate it if this particular asymmetry were made symmetric or if e.g. Talakeal spent as much effort optimizing each enemy as a player is likely to spend on their build.

This is typically not a huge issue in D&D. It more often occurs in games like World of Darkness were resources take months rather than days to replenish and you get XP for storyline progress rather than killing stuff.

Quertus
2019-05-21, 11:21 AM
Still not quite following.

Unless you are just saying that it follows versimilitude that NPCs would have random encounters while traveling thriugh a dangerous area, which is technically true but probably not actually realistic most of the time.

I'm not just saying that NPCs encounter dangerous monsters, but that mountain lions take down deer, and angry elementals break everything. So that "battlefield" could be anything from a curiously Fireball-shaped circle of Scorched Earth, to a deer carcass, to broken trees and deep footprints.

Talakeal
2019-05-21, 07:54 PM
I'm not just saying that NPCs encounter dangerous monsters, but that mountain lions take down deer, and angry elementals break everything. So that "battlefield" could be anything from a curiously Fireball-shaped circle of Scorched Earth, to a deer carcass, to broken trees and deep footprints.

Ok, I understand using realistic depictions of conflict to give the PCs an understanding of the area and its inhabitants, but what does that have to do with resource depletion for the PCs foes?

In my opinion the odds of an NPC having an encounter that ends in conflict which it walks away from but suffers wounds that are so severe it will not have recovered from them by the time the PCs encounter them is relatively slim, and due to the abstract nature of combat and the swinginess of the d20 system is unlikely to matter anyway. So why go to all the trouble of keeping track of it?

And more importantly, when do you decide when an NPC is injured and how severely?

kyoryu
2019-05-21, 08:21 PM
I think it's all a red herring.

I think your players feel that you are being unfair, in whatever way, and that's the core issue.

There's a saying in my line of work: When the players say something's wrong, they're probably right. When they tell you how to fix it, they're probably wrong.

In this case, it seems, based on your descriptions, that they feel like you're pulling out BS moves to screw with them randomly, or higher stats, or other stuff.

I think that the best path would be to follow the rules as strictly as possible, tell them when you're using things like inherent stats (and show them the math up front), and disclose any potentially unexpected abilities in advance. Make the parameters of engagement known.

Quertus
2019-05-21, 11:46 PM
I think it's all a red herring.

I think your players feel that you are being unfair, in whatever way, and that's the core issue.

There's a saying in my line of work: When the players say something's wrong, they're probably right. When they tell you how to fix it, they're probably wrong.

In this case, it seems, based on your descriptions, that they feel like you're pulling out BS moves to screw with them randomly, or higher stats, or other stuff.

I think that the best path would be to follow the rules as strictly as possible, tell them when you're using things like inherent stats (and show them the math up front), and disclose any potentially unexpected abilities in advance. Make the parameters of engagement known.

Agreed. On pretty much all counts. I'm not sure if "following the rules" or (either version of) "publishing ahead of time" is likely to prove more important, or if the combination of both is called for.


And more importantly, when do you decide when an NPC is injured and how severely?

Depends on the system, their access to healing, and their actions for the past few days to months.

Segev
2019-05-22, 09:55 AM
Complete transparency is probably a good idea if you can't take this alternate route, but I think your best bet would be to ask one of them to take a turn DMing. Maybe suggest the whole group each take a turn running a single dungeon of their choice. (Preferably ones you haven't read, but can buy online, so all they have to do is read the module.)

Let them see what DMing really is like, and then also let you see what they think DMs do and how they think they want games run.

You can even openly say that part of the exercise is so that you can get a better feel for what each of them would like to see a DM do, by virtue of how they run their dungeons.

Talakeal
2019-05-22, 10:28 AM
Complete transparency is probably a good idea if you can't take this alternate route, but I think your best bet would be to ask one of them to take a turn DMing. Maybe suggest the whole group each take a turn running a single dungeon of their choice. (Preferably ones you haven't read, but can buy online, so all they have to do is read the module.)

Let them see what DMing really is like, and then also let you see what they think DMs do and how they think they want games run.

You can even openly say that part of the exercise is so that you can get a better feel for what each of them would like to see a DM do, by virtue of how they run their dungeons.

Nobody else in my group will volunteer to GM.

Every time they have tried in the past the incessant whining of the other players has driven them to quite after a session or two and vow to never pick up the screen again.


Agreed. On pretty much all counts. I'm not sure if "following the rules" or (either version of) "publishing ahead of time" is likely to prove more important, or if the combination of both is called for.

That doesn't really sound fun for anyone. Wouldn't that mean spoiling the entire plot ahead of the time, encouraging the PCs to do all sorts of weird metamaging, and taking most of the creativity off of the DM?



Depends on the system, their access to healing, and their actions for the past few days to months.

Let's just say its a standard D&D monster who spends their days hunting small game for food, guarding the treasure in their lair, and plotting up schemes for world domination at some far future date.

Segev
2019-05-22, 10:52 AM
Nobody else in my group will volunteer to GM.

Every time they have tried in the past the incessant whining of the other players has driven them to quite after a session or two and vow to never pick up the screen again.


This...sounds like a lesson in and of itself.

Perhaps you should put down the screen until each of them has taken it up again. When the whining starts, stand up for the GM; having a player have their back may help.

GrayDeath
2019-05-22, 11:02 AM
Step 1: Declare you need a break from this.

Step 2: Request that each player run a 2-shot adventure while you're out.

Step 3: They now have SOME frame of reference to your reality, and you can use that to communicate why you think your changes improve the experience.

This.

Solved Problems when players complained a lot about me and the only other player who regularly DMèd (Him they thought to harsh, me they thought to detailobsessed^^).
After they had the reins they understood that we were simply better G/DM`s, even given my friends love for Hold nothing back" and mine for ...v erbose World Building ^^.


I think it's all a red herring.

I think your players feel that you are being unfair, in whatever way, and that's the core issue.

There's a saying in my line of work: When the players say something's wrong, they're probably right. When they tell you how to fix it, they're probably wrong.

In this case, it seems, based on your descriptions, that they feel like you're pulling out BS moves to screw with them randomly, or higher stats, or other stuff.

I think that the best path would be to follow the rules as strictly as possible, tell them when you're using things like inherent stats (and show them the math up front), and disclose any potentially unexpected abilities in advance. Make the parameters of engagement known.

Also a good suggestion. You work in the IT Busineess, no? ,^^

Quertus
2019-05-22, 05:51 PM
That doesn't really sound fun for anyone. Wouldn't that mean spoiling the entire plot ahead of the time, encouraging the PCs to do all sorts of weird metamaging, and taking most of the creativity off of the DM?

So, I'm going with you not referring to "playing by the rules", but "publishing the content" as sounding unfun. There were 2 techniques for that given: tell them up front, and sealed envelope.

When playing a war game, from Battletech to Warhammer to war machine, all the stats are known up front. Yet everybody has fun. Similarly, when playing MtG, it's no secret what the power and toughness of a Crawl Worm is, or what special abilities a Vampire Nighthawk has. So I reject the notion of known stats being inherently unfun.

Revealing the sealed envelope copy of the session's notes at the end of each session doesn't even go that far, so I'm not sure why this would be a problem. Of course, for that exact reason, it may not go far enough for your players.


Let's just say its a standard D&D monster who spends their days hunting small game for food, guarding the treasure in their lair, and plotting up schemes for world domination at some far future date.

Well, a 3e dragon can probably fully heal in a week or two (whereas a 2e dragon might take the better part of a year). That gives you some idea how far back its history might matter.

That said, 3e is rife with things like permanent HP loss, vile damage, and a vast array of curses and status conditions that could prove much more difficult for a dragon to shake off than simple damage would.

kyoryu
2019-05-22, 06:00 PM
That doesn't really sound fun for anyone. Wouldn't that mean spoiling the entire plot ahead of the time, encouraging the PCs to do all sorts of weird metamaging, and taking most of the creativity off of the DM?

I would say just show the monster stat blocks before the fight. I think that's all that would really be needed.

Talakeal
2019-05-24, 12:47 PM
Well, a 3e dragon can probably fully heal in a week or two (whereas a 2e dragon might take the better part of a year). That gives you some idea how far back its history might matter.

That said, 3e is rife with things like permanent HP loss, vile damage, and a vast array of curses and status conditions that could prove much more difficult for a dragon to shake off than simple damage would.

Either you are deliberately avoiding the question or I am not being clear.

My players think it is unfair, from a gamist perspective, that the monsters do not start fights wounded or otherwise down resources, and you agree with them.

When I ask how to decide what monsters are wounded and how, you tell me to decide based on the monsters backstory. Which I already do if there is a storyline reason for the monster to be wounded.

How do I go about deciding whether or not I should invent injuries in the backstories of monsters who don't have a storyline reason for them so that it is "fair" to the players? How do I know how long ago they where hurt, how badly, and by what? Even if I spend hours on end coming up with a complete life history for the monsters, realism would say that the majority wouldn't be wounded, so I need to force injuries in artificially for the sake of fairness.

So how do I determine what level of injury is "fair?".

kyoryu
2019-05-24, 01:17 PM
Don’t. Go a step higher.

The players think the _game_ is unfair. Fix that.

As I said, when people say something is wrong, they’re probably right. When they tell you how to fix it, they might we’ll be wrong.

At any rate, in terms of what would be fair, we’re the wrong people to ask. The only people whose opinion matters is your players.

BUT I would start with high transparency - build encounters by the book, show the stat blocks before the encounters. Show any modifications before the encounters. Go super open, and don’t try to bend the design guidelines to favor you. Play by the rules, in good faith.

Then, if they say something is unfair, ask what they think is unfair, and what would have made it fair. In cases like Lair actions, point out why they exist and that be monster would likely need more hp to counter that if they went away.

But it doesn’t matter if we think it’s fair or not.

kyoryu
2019-05-24, 01:37 PM
I mean, if you start the NPCs at 80% health, but then choose NPCs with 20% more health, the game is the same and they will likely still feel it’s unfair.

Theoboldi
2019-05-24, 02:11 PM
To chime in here, I don't think increased transparency is going to do anything. There seems to be such a fundamental lack of trust between Talakeal and his players that should he take such extreme measures as openly revealing enemy stats before every battle in a D&D game, it will only act as a bandaid. Most likely, it will be perceived as an attempt on his part to 'disprove' their opinions, and they will soon start pointing out things that they consider to be unfair about the monsters and the encounters themselves.

The only way forward is to address that mutual trust directly with the offending players, and attempt to extend an olive branch in that direction. Emphasize that you want to don't want to screw them over and that their fun matters to you as much as your own, and try to figure out why they do not believe that is the case.

Going after specific examples and mechanics is only going to lead you into trouble time and time again. You need to address the underlying issue.

That's my opinion as an occasional observer of this, based on my own experiences, anyways. There is a possibility I am way off with this, but it still seems to my like the only real way forward.

kyoryu
2019-05-24, 06:01 PM
I don't think that transparency is the solution, but I think it's part of a solution.

At least two of the things that Talakeal has said their players dislike is basically monsters pulling out unexpected moves. If the moves are known up front, that source of discontent is at least gone.

But, if the moves are there and just stupidly over the top, then it'll still seem unfair.

That's exactly like the point I made about having monsters enter the encounters partially depleted - if that's combined with monsters that just have more hp, then it's irrelevant. 100hp is 100hp, whether it's 100% of 100hp, or 82% of 120hp.

So I think the solution is a combination of:

1) Listening to the players about what they think is unfair
2) Determining a baseline of what "fair" means
3) Sticking to that and basically "showing your work"

Since there is at least a level of distrust, I think transparency helps, combined with the rest of the stuff. I mean, that's like one of the basic things you do to build trust, right? Not hiding stuff?

Great Dragon
2019-05-24, 07:02 PM
I think the disconnect is that their power scales with the number of foes they face.

From what I understand, Legendary Actions don't change. Even if 10 PCs walk in, the Monster only gets three Legendary Actions.

Sure, Legendary Actions can allow extra attacks each round (up to three) but also are supposed to add extra options for the Monster to choose from. Some costing 2 or even all 3 Actions.
******
Like the Vampire can: Trigger a Lair Action on Initiative 20; on its turn: move up to a PC, and try to Charm them (the MM doesn't have an action cost for a Vampire's charm) and then (try) grab the PC;
then the Vampire has to wait for a PC to do something;
then use a L.A. to Spider Climbing up a nearby wall with the PC (not provoking any attacks of opportunity);
then wait for another PC to do something;
then - if the first PC is still grappled, the Vampire uses L.A. Bites them.

Which uses all of the Vampire's L.A. for that round.
*********
Another tactic could be:
Lair Action
attack PC 1;
wait…
L.A. move to PC 2;
wait....
L.A. attack PC 2; (if they weren't able to move away)
wait....
L.A. move/Spiderclimb (no AoOs) to escape.
******
Now, there should be lots of foreshadowing for this encounter. Lots of Vampire stories being told in the region where the Vampire is, and not just by Old Bards, or Gypsies.
(Dracula novel reference)

Note: there should also have been at least one Encounter with (some) Vampire Spawn, which have all the Abilities of a Vampire, but don't have Legendary Actions.
Lair Actions (if having a permanent base) can be interesting to add. Most "In Lair" listings have this at least 1 CR higher.
********
But, even if breaking down the limit of Legendary Actions isn't enough, a long talk with the Player is needed.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
I do apologise if I repeated something already posted: I wasn't able to read the whole thread at time of posting.

Cluedrew
2019-05-24, 07:38 PM
Nobody else in my group will volunteer to GM.

Every time they have tried in the past the incessant whining of the other players has driven them to quite after a session or two and vow to never pick up the screen again.
This...sounds like a lesson in and of itself.That sounds like a critical lesson to me. The essential problem is that they have realized that they are a terrible group to GM for, but somehow haven't realized that applies when they aren't the GM.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-24, 08:56 PM
That sounds like a critical lesson to me. The essential problem is that they have realized that they are a terrible group to GM for, but somehow haven't realized that applies when they aren't the GM.

I'd say that inability to see in themselves the faults they see in others is the reason they're so intractably hard to DM for. If they're so self centered, nothing will work. Because there's no I in team, as they say.

NichG
2019-05-24, 09:25 PM
Sometimes complaining is just a default means of social interaction for people. It's a way to get something for nothing and to not have to compromise (you're the one who did something wrong, so you change; why should I have to?). It would be useful to know if the players actually feel strongly enough about this to quit the group, since they're projecting it strongly enough to make the other players quit as GM.

If it's just gripes, probably best to just say 'this is the game we agreed to play; I'm going to keep running it this way, and you're free to vent if it makes you feel better. But if it's really important to you that it change then you need to be willing to compromise your play style in exchange to make the game easier for me to run since you're asking me not to use this tool the game is designed around, or take the reins as GM yourself.'

In this situation, before we can talk about building trust, I think what's needed is to build a feeling of shared responsibility for the quality of gaming time at the table. It's not 'the GMs job is to entertain us', it has to be 'our jobs are to entertain eachother'.

Quertus
2019-05-24, 09:51 PM
To chime in here, I don't think increased transparency is going to do anything. There seems to be such a fundamental lack of trust between Talakeal and his players that should he take such extreme measures as openly revealing enemy stats before every battle in a D&D game, it will only act as a bandaid. Most likely, it will be perceived as an attempt on his part to 'disprove' their opinions, and they will soon start pointing out things that they consider to be unfair about the monsters and the encounters themselves.

The only way forward is to address that mutual trust directly with the offending players, and attempt to extend an olive branch in that direction. Emphasize that you want to don't want to screw them over and that their fun matters to you as much as your own, and try to figure out why they do not believe that is the case.

Going after specific examples and mechanics is only going to lead you into trouble time and time again. You need to address the underlying issue.

That's my opinion as an occasional observer of this, based on my own experiences, anyways. There is a possibility I am way off with this, but it still seems to my like the only real way forward.

This is an interesting relationship question. Your partners complain that X, Y, and Z are wrong. Your partners are human, and therefore likely a) correct that something is wrong; and b) wrong to mostly wrong about the specifics of what is wrong.

What should you do?

IMO (because I'm a ****, and have spent too much time getting and fixing requirements from customers), the correct answer is… complex.

I like to say that the customer tells me what they think is wrong, then my job is to talk to the customer and figure out what is actually wrong. Same thing here.

However, IMO, you can definitely win some points with the customer if you can find some low-hanging fruit that is *actually* something that they both need and request, and give them that.

Second, you can leverage those points and move to the more productive "you're an idiot, let's talk about what you really need" phase if a) you don't actually call the customer an idiot for not knowing what their problem actually is; and b) you can find some low-hanging fruit where it's obvious what their actual problem is, and what they really need.

Now, here's the problem: Talakeal, given your post history, I strongly suspect that the ratio of your investigative skills, relative to DC of pulling useful information out of your players, will not make that second step particularly easy.

There are numerous ways to address that problem. Simply put, you can try to raise your skill (ie, practice with us Playgrounders), lower the DC (ie, train your players to communicate more good), or attempt a lower DC task (ie, fix what they think is wrong).


Don’t. Go a step higher.

The players think the _game_ is unfair. Fix that.

As I said, when people say something is wrong, they’re probably right. When they tell you how to fix it, they might we’ll be wrong.

At any rate, in terms of what would be fair, we’re the wrong people to ask. The only people whose opinion matters is your players.

BUT I would start with high transparency - build encounters by the book, show the stat blocks before the encounters. Show any modifications before the encounters. Go super open, and don’t try to bend the design guidelines to favor you. Play by the rules, in good faith.

Then, if they say something is unfair, ask what they think is unfair, and what would have made it fair. In cases like Lair actions, point out why they exist and that be monster would likely need more hp to counter that if they went away.

But it doesn’t matter if we think it’s fair or not.

Agreed, it doesn't matter what we think. But it may be good practice.

Also, I wouldn't emphasize telling the players *why* things (like lair actions) exist, or *what* the alternatives are. Yes, sure, do that, but *focus* on listening to what the players have to say about *why* it is unfair, and *what* they suggest as a fair alternative.

Actually, if you do that, you might not need to tell your opinion at all.


Either you are deliberately avoiding the question or I am not being clear.

My players think it is unfair, from a gamist perspective, that the monsters do not start fights wounded or otherwise down resources, and you agree with them.

When I ask how to decide what monsters are wounded and how, you tell me to decide based on the monsters backstory. Which I already do if there is a storyline reason for the monster to be wounded.

How do I go about deciding whether or not I should invent injuries in the backstories of monsters who don't have a storyline reason for them so that it is "fair" to the players? How do I know how long ago they where hurt, how badly, and by what? Even if I spend hours on end coming up with a complete life history for the monsters, realism would say that the majority wouldn't be wounded, so I need to force injuries in artificially for the sake of fairness.

So how do I determine what level of injury is "fair?".

You've used "game" and "story" in describing your stance, while completely missing "simulation", which is what I'm actually talking about.

According to game logic, there is a formula for how quickly things heal damage taken. In at least some versions of D&D, there are random encounter tables. Most things - including Dragons - need to eat. So, even if the Dragon's lair doesn't have random encounters, its hunting grounds most likely do. So, even if this Dragon has done nothing but hide in its lair except to hunt the subsistence level of prey, based on how long it takes to heal from "nearly dead", you can determine how far back time matters / how many random encounters it should roll for, in order to determine its current HP.

I'm simply saying, "run the simulation". The level of injury that it produces is what's fair.

Great Dragon
2019-05-25, 01:09 AM
You've used "game" and "story" in describing your stance, while completely missing "simulation", which is what I'm actually talking about.

According to game logic, there is a formula for how quickly things heal damage taken. In at least some versions of D&D, there are random encounter tables. Most things - including Dragons - need to eat. So, even if the Dragon's lair doesn't have random encounters, its hunting grounds most likely do. So, even if this Dragon has done nothing but hide in its lair except to hunt the subsistence level of prey, based on how long it takes to heal from "nearly dead", you can determine how far back time matters / how many random encounters it should roll for, in order to determine its current HP.

I'm simply saying, "run the simulation". The level of injury that it produces is what's fair.

Yes, but even I (who loves doing background world building, and has more time than any previous gaming period in my life) rarely can "run the simulation" very often.
(But, I think you were already aware of that)

A lot of DMs (myself included, sometimes) simply grab a Monster Book and go with whatever is in the stat block. A few (like me) will take a little time to maybe change things beforehand (usually based on PC capabilities) like maybe Max HP, or (slightly) better Armor.
*******"
As for the OPs problem, only they can really solve that, hopefully with some of the suggested solutions.

If not, then maybe just buy the Player in question Skyrim or something.

Malifice
2019-05-25, 09:42 AM
My players absolutely hate it when a monster has an ability that they cannot replicate. If it is an ability out of the monster manual, they will usually grumble and tolerate it, but if it is a custom ability they absolutely read my the riot act. I assume this is just my players being crazy and not normal, right? Anyone else have experience with that?


But one of my players absolutely loathes legendary / lair actions*. He is normally one of my more reasonable players, but every time legendary actions come up in game or merely in discussion he immediately goes into a bad mood and starts grumbling and complaining or quietly sulking.


This came to a head yesterday when they were fighting a dragon. He complained loudly the entire fight about how BS legendary actions were, and at one point there was an unclear rule involving a monster's legendary action and I needed to make a ruling and we were discussing it and the player but in and said, "No point in discussing this. Talakeal always rules in the monster's favor when legendary actions are concerned. We might as well just write a house rule that states: Change description of all legendary actions to "The monster does whatever Talakeal wants it to do."

Then, when his character hit zero HP (not dead, just disabled and fully heal-able) the player got up, pulled out his phone, and went into the other room to surf the net rather than pay attention to the game.


So yeah, for some reason, this player really really hates legendary actions. I try to explain that they are necessary to keep the action moving and to counteract the advantages provided by action economy, but the player simply doesn't see it and just gets mad and turns the discussion into a fight any time I bring it up. At this point I am legitimately considered house ruling legendary actions out of the game and just giving boss monsters extra HP and damage to compensate because I am tired of fighting about it.

Anyone have any advice? Either how to socially disarm the situation or mechanically change the rules? Anyone have any similar opinions or experiences with legendary actions?



*: For anyone not familiar with this concept, it is basically a concept introduced in recent editions of D&D where certain "boss" monsters have a few special abilities that they can only use as bonus actions during the player's turn.

What? Your reaction to this player is to consider changing the rules!!???!!!??

Boot this player from your game immediately. If he apologises and agrees to stop being a douche maybe let him back. Maybe.

Get. Control. Of. Your. Players.

Talakeal
2019-05-25, 12:13 PM
You've used "game" and "story" in describing your stance, while completely missing "simulation", which is what I'm actually talking about.

According to game logic, there is a formula for how quickly things heal damage taken. In at least some versions of D&D, there are random encounter tables. Most things - including Dragons - need to eat. So, even if the Dragon's lair doesn't have random encounters, its hunting grounds most likely do. So, even if this Dragon has done nothing but hide in its lair except to hunt the subsistence level of prey, based on how long it takes to heal from "nearly dead", you can determine how far back time matters / how many random encounters it should roll for, in order to determine its current HP.

I'm simply saying, "run the simulation". The level of injury that it produces is what's fair.

This is not feasible, bordering on impossible.

To do this fairly, you would need to run encounters for the encounters, and encounters for the encounters for the encohnters, and so on in an infinite regression, which is actually impossible.

Furthermore, I wouldnt know what rules to use for monsters living their daily life. PCs roll on random encounter tables when moving thriugh unfamiliar and usually hostile terrain, not when living their daily lives. If everything rolled random encounters like the PCs do when just going about its daily business I imagine the world would be a graveyard with nothing for the PCs to fight except a handful of overhwelmingly deadly monsters.



I'd say that inability to see in themselves the faults they see in others is the reason they're so intractably hard to DM for. If they're so self centered, nothing will work. Because there's no I in team, as they say.

Everyone in my group, myself included, is aware that they are a **** to DMs.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-25, 12:17 PM
Everyone in my group, myself included, is aware that they are a **** to DMs.

If they're aware and refuse to change, then nothing you do will change anything. It's the old "how many shrinks does it take to change a lightbulb" punchline--"one, but it has to want to change."

The Glyphstone
2019-05-25, 12:17 PM
Have you guys ever considered looking into GM-less games? Fiasco and Capes are the two most well-known ones.

MrSandman
2019-05-25, 12:34 PM
If they're aware and refuse to change, then nothing you do will change anything. It's the old "how many shrinks does it take to change a lightbulb" punchline--"one, but it has to want to change."

This, so much this. The GM is just another player who is there to have fun like everyone else. If they know they aren't nice to the GM and can't be bothered to do anything about it, play Monopoly, where bringing everyone else to bankruptcy is the goal of the game.

Quertus
2019-05-25, 04:54 PM
This is not feasible, bordering on impossible.

To do this fairly, you would need to run encounters for the encounters, and encounters for the encounters for the encohnters, and so on in an infinite regression, which is actually impossible.

Furthermore, I wouldnt know what rules to use for monsters living their daily life. PCs roll on random encounter tables when moving thriugh unfamiliar and usually hostile terrain, not when living their daily lives. If everything rolled random encounters like the PCs do when just going about its daily business I imagine the world would be a graveyard with nothing for the PCs to fight except a handful of overhwelmingly deadly monsters.




Everyone in my group, myself included, is aware that they are a **** to DMs.

Yes and no.

See, things like goblins, gnolls, etc come from larger tribes. If they generally follow the reasonable principle of only sending uninjured warriors / hunters / etc out, and are generally weak enough that there is no real significant ground between "uninjured" and "lunch", then you're much closer to "story reasons" injuries: *why* did the wounded hobgoblin leave the safety of the camp?

Really, any successful creature / civilization needs to be able to survive its routine - needs to, in the aggregate, prevail over the expected encounters in its lair and hunting grounds.

The gnolls can survive the random encounters in their area? Well, it's more gnolls ("hi Bob" "hi Fred"), orcs (hopefully, their uneasy peace will last, and they'll just bicker over poorly-defined territory), the dragon (good thing it's old enough to remember second edition, back when it only healed 1 HP per day, and doesn't dare attack except for food and shinies), wolves (usually clever enough to avoid humanoids), bears, deer, squirrels, birds, and bugs. The orcs keep watch on the few Land Sharks in the area, so, to us, they aren't "random", any more than the Dragon's Lair.

Similarly, a farmer needs to survive his expected encounters - his wife and kids (good luck), his dogs, his farm animals, crows, rats, and the rare woodland creature that stumbled onto his farm.

When the farmer's been living there for hundreds of years (what? I never said "human" farmer), and, while the PCs are passing through, he has to deal with Ankheg, while his neighbor is fending off ghosts, he's likely to blame the PCs for his ill fortune - and, IMO, he'll be right to do so.

Look at "Simulationist HP / wounds" as a test of your world-building. Because, you're right - if everything treats everything as a combat encounter, then (everything will be strongly restricted to "zones", or) you'll quickly find yourself in a world of trolls, ghosts, Clerics, and other alpha predators.

Well-built worlds don't look like that any more than this world does.

-----

In what way(s) are y'all ****s to GMs?

Jakinbandw
2019-05-25, 06:29 PM
Tell the player that they too can get legendary actions. Play a Cavalier to 18th, and pick up sentinel and pole arm master. Now they too can act after each foe that tries to get close to them in a round (and sometimes even mid action so it's even better then legendary actions).

Now the players can't complain the monsters can do thing they can't.

1337 b4k4
2019-05-25, 07:55 PM
So I'm not generally one for the "GM is all knowing, all powerful, bow before the GM" attitude, but I think the people telling you to get control of your group are right. Operating on the assumption that what you're telling us is the full story (and this isn't to suggest you're lying, just acknowledging that sometimes we make assumptions about what others want without asking), what you've told us seems to boil down to:

1) Your players don't like playing the game you're running
2) Your players don't like the base conceits that come with playing D&D
3) Your players don't want to switch to another game that might suit them better
4) Your players don't want to put the effort into running their own game
5) Your players don't want to help you run this game
6) Your players don't trust you to run this game on your own
7) Your players don't like themselves as players
8) Your players basically don't like anything except complaining about how the games are run, regardless of who's DMing

If I were in your shoes Talakeal, I'd tell my players to put up or shut up. I would tell them that I am running X game, with Y rules and in Z style, and either they can play that game or they can find some other game to play. I would give them options of other games I'm willing to run, but fundamentally you need to have fun just like everyone else at that table, which means playing a system and style you enjoy. And finally I would tell them that if they don't want to play the options I'm willing to run, they are more than welcome to step up and take responsibility for running a game. But unless and until they are either willing to run their own game or switch to a game that better suits their play that you're willing to run, tell them the game you're running and that you're no longer taking complaints or suggestions on changing that until they've actually played the game for longer than a handful of sessions.

Malifice
2019-05-26, 01:41 AM
This is not feasible, bordering on impossible.

To do this fairly, you would need to run encounters for the encounters, and encounters for the encounters for the encohnters, and so on in an infinite regression, which is actually impossible.

Furthermore, I wouldnt know what rules to use for monsters living their daily life. PCs roll on random encounter tables when moving thriugh unfamiliar and usually hostile terrain, not when living their daily lives. If everything rolled random encounters like the PCs do when just going about its daily business I imagine the world would be a graveyard with nothing for the PCs to fight except a handful of overhwelmingly deadly monsters.




Everyone in my group, myself included, is aware that they are a **** to DMs.

Hnoest question.

Why do you tolerate that kind of behavior in your OP?

If a player did that to me, it would be the last time he would play at my table.

Great Dragon
2019-05-26, 09:11 AM
@Malifice:

"I'd rather play a bad game with Friends, then not play at all".

At least this would be my guess.

Malifice
2019-05-26, 09:54 AM
@Malifice:

"I'd rather play a bad game with Friends, then not play at all".

At least this would be my guess.

How on earth can the player discussed in the OP be a 'friend?' I doubt (based on the behavior described) a person like that has any friends.

I'd sack them from the table, and frankly wouldn't speak to them again outside of it also.

I just cant imagine spending my free time with someone with that attitude and who behaves in such a manner.

OldTrees1
2019-05-26, 10:29 AM
How on earth can the player discussed in the OP be a 'friend?' I doubt (based on the behavior described) a person like that has any friends.

Remember, we only see 1 side of the story, and even then we see a breakdown in communication. That might explain why Talakeal is acting different than your expectations. Or it might not.

Segev
2019-05-26, 11:14 AM
I do recommend that Talekeal just not run games for these people.

Great Dragon
2019-05-26, 11:45 AM
How on earth can the player discussed in the OP be a 'friend?' I doubt (based on the behavior described) a person like that has any friends.

Well... I did have a friend who was on ok guy (if a little stubborn) but a really bad gamer. Always played the same Race, almost always the same class, and his attitude and behavior were the same both in and out of character.

Talakeal
2019-05-26, 11:53 AM
The reasons I still game with these people are:

1: I really love gaming. I know most people say no gaming is better than bad gaming, but for me it really isn't.
2: I am very shy and introverted, so finding new gamers is really a challenge. And for reason I have really bad luck as every knew player I do find is significantly more crazy than my old group.
3: Most of the time it goes ok. Keep in mind that I only post when something goes wrong, the vast majority of my gaming sessions go by without a hitch, you guys on the forum just don't see them because "Everything's fine, no help needed" doesn't exactly make for an interesting discussion starter.

In the case of this particular player he is normally fine, but he is on anti-depressants and one of the side effects is that he will get periodic flashes of unreasonable anger.

But the underlying hatred of legendary actions is a constant regardless of his mood, and it isn't just him. One constant I have found over many years with many different players in many different groups is that they are likely to pitch a fit if the rules for PCs and NPCs are asymmetrical, or symmetrical in a way that doesn't favor them.


In what way(s) are y'all ****s to GMs?

Different ways. Mostly just bitching at the GM or standard munchkin / murder hobo stuff.

I personally get too deeply into character and often wreck the campaigns rather than take OOC actions that are necessary for the plot.

Like the last campaign when I was playing a LG veteran with PTSD and was told by a much higher level evil character that I would work for him or he would have me killed, so I decided to attack him on the spot as I wasn't going to violate my alignment and I felt that as I was a knight and he was a rogue I would have better chances fighting him directly on my own terms. I was promptly killed and the campaign ended with everyone pissed off.

Segev
2019-05-26, 01:04 PM
The reasons I still game with these people are:

1: I really love gaming. I know most people say no gaming is better than bad gaming, but for me it really isn't.
2: I am very shy and introverted, so finding new gamers is really a challenge. And for reason I have really bad luck as every knew player I do find is significantly more crazy than my old group.
3: Most of the time it goes ok. Keep in mind that I only post when something goes wrong, the vast majority of my gaming sessions go by without a hitch, you guys on the forum just don't see them because "Everything's fine, no help needed" doesn't exactly make for an interesting discussion starter.Glad to hear they usually go okay. I still think you should look for other groups, not to DM for, but to play in.


In the case of this particular player he is normally fine, but he is on anti-depressants and one of the side effects is that he will get periodic flashes of unreasonable anger.

But the underlying hatred of legendary actions is a constant regardless of his mood, and it isn't just him. One constant I have found over many years with many different players in many different groups is that they are likely to pitch a fit if the rules for PCs and NPCs are asymmetrical, or symmetrical in a way that doesn't favor them.Ugh, psychoactive drugs. Those are always...complicated. Lo siento.

Do they whine and moan if things are too easy? Maybe just try a game where things always go their way, and see how they react. Don't tell them you're doing this. Pit them against foes who are no challenge. Have enemies cower before them. Make their plans go off without a hitch by letting their expected course of events play out. Try to be excited and thrilled about it the whole time. Don't let on that they can't fail.

They may really enjoy it. They may hate it; if they hate it, ask them to analyze why for you. Don't get defensive and tell them that you gave them everything they wanted, not yet. Just nod and agree that you'll try to do that better. And then do try, but never to the point that you actually challenge them.

After this experiment ends, you can see if they actually know what it is they want, or if they're just going to complain no matter what. If they're going to complain no matter what, run it how you wish, and just smile and nod, possibly with an evil grin. They're free to stop playing if they don't like it, after all. Given that they all refuse to DM for the group, and they all keep coming back, they must want to play at least as much as you want to run. So you be the one making them accommodate.




I personally get too deeply into character and often wreck the campaigns rather than take OOC actions that are necessary for the plot.

Like the last campaign when I was playing a LG veteran with PTSD and was told by a much higher level evil character that I would work for him or he would have me killed, so I decided to attack him on the spot as I wasn't going to violate my alignment and I felt that as I was a knight and he was a rogue I would have better chances fighting him directly on my own terms. I was promptly killed and the campaign ended with everyone pissed off.There's an article somewhere around this site on "choose differently," which encourages finding an excuse why your character would go along with things. That might help your personal proclivities.

Though why did everyone end mad? Why'd the campaign end? Just let the character die, and make a new one who's more in line with where the plot's going.

Quertus
2019-05-26, 04:51 PM
Different ways. Mostly just bitching at the GM or standard munchkin / murder hobo stuff.

I personally get too deeply into character and often wreck the campaigns rather than take OOC actions that are necessary for the plot.

Like the last campaign when I was playing a LG veteran with PTSD and was told by a much higher level evil character that I would work for him or he would have me killed, so I decided to attack him on the spot as I wasn't going to violate my alignment and I felt that as I was a knight and he was a rogue I would have better chances fighting him directly on my own terms. I was promptly killed and the campaign ended with everyone pissed off.


There's an article somewhere around this site on "choose differently," which encourages finding an excuse why your character would go along with things. That might help your personal proclivities.

Though why did everyone end mad? Why'd the campaign end? Just let the character die, and make a new one who's more in line with where the plot's going.

Well, of course everyone should have gotten mad - at the GM! They intentionally created a scenario with campaign-ending potential, which, if they'd had a lick of sense, they'd have known what the LG character's response would or could have been. Bad GM!

"Choose differently" cuts both ways. If the GM knows that this NPCs actions will cause the campaign to end - badly, at that - they should just choose differently. Bad GM!

That said, "choose differently" implies knowledge. It's completely reasonable to expect the GM in this scenario to know that ending the game badly was a bad plan. But it is nothing but hubris for anyone to think they will always accurately know what will be good or bad, what will be the most fun for everyone at the table. (EDIT: Incidentally, this one thing Illusionism, fudging, and linear games have in common - they all involve one player with the hubris of thinking that they know what's best for the game)

Further, the game is most fun when you are fully immersed in the character, asking WWQD-style questions. Anything that takes away from that reduces the joy that is pure role-playing. The Playground / internet has a name for that: my guy syndrome.

So, instead, you should reduce your fun, trying to second-guess what everyone else will find fun / trying to avoid things that you know that they won't enjoy.

But that's not enough. No, you've also got to metagame the bloody plot, and guess what will work with the GM's unknown plans? And, if the plot isn't boring and predictable, you're either just setting yourself up for failure, or, arguably worse, forcing a boring and predictable plot on an open game?

Yeah, no. Communicate. Be prepared to retcon. "If you attack the NPC, that's campaign over." "If he gives me that ultimatum, I'll have no choice but to attack him." "Really? You wouldn't <insert whatever stupid thing the GM thought was the only thing your character would ever think to do, and was hinging the campaign on>?" "No, that goes against everything my character stands for." Players and GM suggest alternative actions *for both parties*, and rewind the minimum necessary to have a good path moving forwards.

And, hopefully, the GM learns to never again hinge their campaign on a single course of action, let alone a stupid one.

I find this much better than the "there's no such thing as personality" advice given in "choose differently". :smallyuk:

MrSandman
2019-05-27, 01:58 AM
I find this much better than the "there's no such thing as personality" advice given in "choose differently". :smallyuk:

You do realise that this is a gross misrepresentation of what the advice "choose differently" means, right?

Quertus
2019-05-27, 04:04 AM
You do realise that this is a gross misrepresentation of what the advice "choose differently" means, right?

Depends on who is giving it.

My read of the article by the Giant (which was what was being referenced) was a big middle finger to role-playing and character personality.

Or, at least, that's my senile recollection. I reserve the right to be wrong. :smalltongue:

Earthwalker
2019-05-27, 04:22 AM
Depends on who is giving it.

My read of the article by the Giant (which was what was being referenced) was a big middle finger to role-playing and character personality.

Or, at least, that's my senile recollection. I reserve the right to be wrong. :smalltongue:

For me the idea was. When confronted with a situation there are multiple ways a character can react and still be in character.

If you believe that to be true then act in a way that is both in character and doesn't blow up the game.

Now... if you believe that in situations there is only one possible way for a character to act then the advice is pointless.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 07:49 AM
For me the idea was. When confronted with a situation there are multiple ways a character can react and still be in character.

If you believe that to be true then act in a way that is both in character and doesn't blow up the game.

Now... if you believe that in situations there is only one possible way for a character to act then the advice is pointless.

IME, there is a spectrum of meanings for the phrase, just as there is a (larger) spectrum of beliefs about role-playing, which covers a range of There is only one right answer (the style of role-playing that I was taught) There is one or more right answers, and there are wrong answers (my current stance) Anything can be a right answer, as you can rationalize how it makes sense for the character, or change your character as needed (commonly advocated on this forum) There is no character, it's only you, so choose differently (which is how I remember Giant's article reading)

Cluedrew
2019-05-27, 08:01 AM
Do they whine and moan if things are too easy? Maybe just try a game where things always go their way, and see how they react. Don't tell them you're doing this. Pit them against foes who are no challenge. Have enemies cower before them. Make their plans go off without a hitch by letting their expected course of events play out. Try to be excited and thrilled about it the whole time. Don't let on that they can't fail.

[...]Ah yes the true most evil of plans: Give them everything that they want.

I approve. Both seriously and kind of for the irony of it.


I reserve the right to be wrong. :smalltongue:And this is why I enjoy talking to you about things, despite disagreeing on many things. You are the only other person I know to utter that phrase. (Although just to be clear, it means "I accept the fact I will make mistakes" and not "I will hold to incorrect positions just because" right?)

Speaking of disagreeing, I think there are two things about The Giant's article I disagree with you on. First is the rate at which this out-of-character thinking has to be used and how far from the character you will get. Actually that may be two things bringing the total to three. But I digress. Generally you should only have to worry about this when it is going to clause very serious campaign level/out-of-character problems. Like the party not forming (which is not to say everyone has to be friends) or ending the campaign at a bad time/in a bad way. The second is... and I just say you sword-sage post and I would say - even at your current view - that of the possible in-character choices there is usually one in-character (if a bit unusual for them) choice that does not lead to problems. Speaking of which I believe that things start at 3 but than move towards 2 as the campaign progresses and the character is established. Or as I put it "nothing about anything is true until it has been shown in game".

So that is why I think the Giant's advice is not as extreme as you thought. Second is I believe it has a right to be extreme. If anything is getting in the way of the game, put it aside, give it the finger, kick it where it hurts or take it out back and shoot it. The point of the game is to have fun and a scene or two of you holding to your role-playing principles is not worth the rest of the group having a decidedly unfun experience during that time.

MrSandman
2019-05-27, 08:15 AM
IME, there is a spectrum of meanings for the phrase, just as there is a (larger) spectrum of beliefs about role-playing, which covers a range of There is only one right answer (the style of role-playing that I was taught) There is one or more right answers, and there are wrong answers (my current stance) Anything can be a right answer, as you can rationalize how it makes sense for the character, or change your character as needed (commonly advocated on this forum) There is no character, it's only you, so choose differently (which is how I remember Giant's article reading)

First of all, your last point has nothing to do with the first three. The last point is a true statement regardless of your approach. The fact is that your character is not a separate entity that exists outside of the game and you are one who decides your character's personality, drives, goals, et al. This is true regardless of whether you think that there's only right option, that there are some right and some wrong options or that anything can be a right option.

I have gone back and re-read the Giant's article and I would summarise his take on this issue as follows: "You are the one in control of your character. It is your responsibility to craft a personality that fits with the party and the campaign."

Interestingly, he gives an example of a character of his who would run recklessly into danger and have little concern for his personal safety. He says this:



A caveat, however: if you decide to play a character who takes risks or acts rashly, you should let yourself get talked out of it from time to time by the more level-headed characters. Isawa, for example, often suggested wildly inappropriate courses of action, which the far more cautious paladin Adhemar would convince me to not enact. Throwing caution to the wind is fun once in a while, but if done during every encounter, it gets annoying to the other players.

So the point isn't "make a character with no personality," but "realise that characters can have more than one dimension and make one that works in your group."

Quertus
2019-05-27, 08:24 AM
And this is why I enjoy talking to you about things, despite disagreeing on many things. You are the only other person I know to utter that phrase. (Although just to be clear, it means "I accept the fact I will make mistakes" and not "I will hold to incorrect positions just because" right?)

Correct. I recognize that I do not *always* speak with the infallible voice of God, and mark those rare few occasions with a corresponding disclaimer. :smalltongue:

Also, *enjoy*? :smallredface:


Speaking of disagreeing, I think there are two things about The Giant's article I disagree with you on. First is the rate at which this out-of-character thinking has to be used and how far from the character you will get. Actually that may be two things bringing the total to three. But I digress. Generally you should only have to worry about this when it is going to clause very serious campaign level/out-of-character problems. Like the party not forming (which is not to say everyone has to be friends) or ending the campaign at a bad time/in a bad way. The second is... and I just say you sword-sage post and I would say - even at your current view - that of the possible in-character choices there is usually one in-character (if a bit unusual for them) choice that does not lead to problems. Speaking of which I believe that things start at 3 but than move towards 2 as the campaign progresses and the character is established. Or as I put it "nothing about anything is true until it has been shown in game".

So that is why I think the Giant's advice is not as extreme as you thought. Second is I believe it has a right to be extreme. If anything is getting in the way of the game, put it aside, give it the finger, kick it where it hurts or take it out back and shoot it. The point of the game is to have fun and a scene or two of you holding to your role-playing principles is not worth the rest of the group having a decidedly unfun experience during that time.

Rate, level of divergence, odds of good, established character, sacrifice, principles - sound like good keywords for your stance?

Well, yes, we disagree on all 6 counts.

Actually, "sacrifice" is probably where we come closest to agreeing / have common ground.

"If anything is getting in the way of the game, put it aside, give it the finger, kick it where it hurts or take it out back and shoot it." - if your mom pestering you about taking the dog for a walk is getting in the way of gaming, you should not take her out back and shoot her. In other words, yes, the game has value, but other things have value, too. Some things - like people's lives or the oft-referenced spousal fidelity / trust - are things that are lost, catastrophically, in a single instance.

So, while you, personally, may not care, I would like you to recognize that some people do care. That, if you force me to play against character even once, the campaign and likely the character are done. This is not a recoverable state.

But, yes, the unimportant things, like the GM's plans, the needy dog, the social contract, or the particular players at the table, you absolutely should sacrifice to keep the game fun (color blue to taste).

I'll make separate posts for any of the other 5 (or so) points of disagreement I respond to.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-27, 08:41 AM
So the point isn't "make a character with no personality," but "realise that characters can have more than one dimension and make one that works in your group."

This is the key. If there's always one right answer to every question, then you've got a flat character. Real people are multidimensional and often contradict themselves. As Walt Whitman said:


Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Characters are not character studies. They're not fixed slates, not instruments to probe the universe. They're people, with all that that entails. Even the most resolute person will dither occasionally. Even the most devout will have a moment of doubt. Even the most craven will do something brave. And, most miraculously, people change. Someone who was craven can become bold and brave--this is not "breaking character", because no one has a character set in stone.

So out of the multitude of "right" answers, choose one that is party-friendly. If there isn't, then consider changing the character (either the character of the character or retiring the character). The party comes first--the characters are the protons and neutrons to the party's atom. And it ain't hydrogen here.

Edit: and if you made a character that routinely cannot make party-friendly decisions, the onus is on you. You can't blame the character, because it doesn't exist outside of your brain. You are solely responsible for its existence, its current state, and its behavior. Hiding behind "it's what my character would do" to justify party-unfriendly behavior is just trying to deflect the rightful ire of your friends. And that's behavior I'd expect of the OP's group, not a sane, healthy gaming group.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 09:07 AM
First of all, your last point has nothing to do with the first three. The last point is a true statement regardless of your approach. The fact is that your character is not a separate entity that exists outside of the game and you are one who decides your character's personality, drives, goals, et al. This is true regardless of whether you think that there's only right option, that there are some right and some wrong options or that anything can be a right option.

I have gone back and re-read the Giant's article and I would summarise his take on this issue as follows: "You are the one in control of your character. It is your responsibility to craft a personality that fits with the party and the campaign."

Interestingly, he gives an example of a character of his who would run recklessly into danger and have little concern for his personal safety. He says this:



So the point isn't "make a character with no personality," but "realise that characters can have more than one dimension and make one that works in your group."

Link? I should enjoy checking my assumptions, rather than just going by my increasingly fallible memory.

From what you quoted, the Giant makes some nasty assumptions there - primarily, that every group will always have more fun if your character can sometimes be talked out of their defining characteristic. This is demonstrably untrue. Some groups have had more fun with characters who are dependable in their idiosyncrasies.

Second, there's once again that hubris issue in assuming you'll know when to act in character, and when not to.

Lastly, Talakeal made a character who worked with the group - until they catastrophically didn't. Why is it not the GM's responsibility to craft a campaign that works with the PCs - or, better yet, that works with any PCs / that doesn't fall apart when a PC takes an utterly predictable action? Why is it the player's responsibility to sacrifice their character on the altar of "the story", rather than the GM's responsibility to keep the game running smoothly with the characters that he accepted into the game?

Personally, I believe in setting criteria in session 0. If there's a problem, refer to session 0. If the players made PCs that do not follow session 0 guidelines, it's their problem; otherwise, it's the GM's problem.

Lastly, yes, "the personality you choose to craft" is on you. But, having created that personality, it exists. Advocates of my 4th stance - including my memory of my read of the Giant - do not acknowledge that.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 09:36 AM
This is the key. If there's always one right answer to every question, then you've got a flat character. Real people are multidimensional and often contradict themselves. As Walt Whitman said:



Characters are not character studies. They're not fixed slates, not instruments to probe the universe. They're people, with all that that entails. Even the most resolute person will dither occasionally. Even the most devout will have a moment of doubt. Even the most craven will do something brave. And, most miraculously, people change. Someone who was craven can become bold and brave--this is not "breaking character", because no one has a character set in stone.

So out of the multitude of "right" answers, choose one that is party-friendly. If there isn't, then consider changing the character (either the character of the character or retiring the character). The party comes first--the characters are the protons and neutrons to the party's atom. And it ain't hydrogen here.

Edit: and if you made a character that routinely cannot make party-friendly decisions, the onus is on you. You can't blame the character, because it doesn't exist outside of your brain. You are solely responsible for its existence, its current state, and its behavior. Hiding behind "it's what my character would do" to justify party-unfriendly behavior is just trying to deflect the rightful ire of your friends. And that's behavior I'd expect of the OP's group, not a sane, healthy gaming group.

Perhaps I should clarify - when I say "one right answer", I'm not talking about flat characters. That's bad role-playing. I was taught that whatever the player thought that the character would do is correct. That includes all the nuance, all the inconsistency, all the personality of a "real" person.

Thing is, yes, sometimes, there are other things that would *also* have been in character. And, rarely but not never, there is a *huge* difference in the amount of fun to be had between those options.

Yes, people change. Yes, characters should be able to change, too. The problem comes (per my 4th point) when people not just want but *expect* characters to have those moments of change *when it is convenient for (or required by) the story*, rather than organically.

I am calling out those who (like Talakeal's GM) craft fragile stories that fall apart when the PCs don't dance to one specific tune *unless the GM explicitly got buy-in for that tune during session 0*.

As to routinely not making party-friendly decisions… understand, I come from a background of idiots, like GMs who expect paladins to be OK with assassinating the lawful king, who is good and just. So, IMO, the burden is primarily on session 0 to define what an acceptable character looks like. This is also related to why I like the idea of running multiple one-shots, and the group making an informed decision about a party that they believe will work well together. Otherwise, I largely agree with your edit.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 09:46 AM
@Cluedrew

Rate.

To paraphrase the Angry GM, you've got to metagame like a mother****ing dolphin.

Simply put, you never know when the unknown will strike - when you pull out a spider mini and discover that a fellow player is deathly afraid of spiders, when your clever plan steals another player's thunder or derails the game.

If all your players are caricatures, completely predictable with no significant personality, and the plot is trivial and known to all, then you can probably do all the work creating a personality up front, and spend the session "just role-playing".

But when taking the obviously right answer for the character kills the campaign? No, you've got to be walking on eggshells, assuming every 5' square may well hold a landmine.

It's surprisingly similar to living with an abusive partner.

Earthwalker
2019-05-27, 09:52 AM
[snip]
Thing is, yes, sometimes, there are other things that would *also* have been in character. And, rarely but not never, there is a *huge* difference in the amount of fun to be had between those options.
[snip]


I do remember reading the article a long while ago and the idea that their are other things you can do in character that wont ruin the game, for me being a revelation.

Its weird I know, but I would get into the mind set of but that one first thing I chose to do was what my character would do.

Many times it is what my character would do, in all those times there is also something else my character that would do that wont

Now I am not saying in Talakeal's example that his GM was doing the right thing (I don't know the full story but from what was posted it was just stupid)

What I am saying is I find the "Think Differently" article worth a read and some consideration. I think that "huge" difference in level of fun is there for you, it certainly isn't there for me.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 10:31 AM
I do remember reading the article a long while ago and the idea that their are other things you can do in character that wont ruin the game, for me being a revelation.

Its weird I know, but I would get into the mind set of but that one first thing I chose to do was what my character would do.

Many times it is what my character would do, in all those times there is also something else my character that would do that wont

Now I am not saying in Talakeal's example that his GM was doing the right thing (I don't know the full story but from what was posted it was just stupid)

What I am saying is I find the "Think Differently" article worth a read and some consideration. I think that "huge" difference in level of fun is there for you, it certainly isn't there for me.

Same!

That is, I came from the same "one first thing I chose to do was what my character would do <was the right thing>" background. I was introduced to the same "idea that their are other things you can do in character that wont ruin the game", and it was a revelation.

Awesome that someone else has shared that experience! Btw, do you ever miss the purity of "just role-playing"?

I agree that the (one-sided) description we get from Talakeal makes the GM sound stupid (and, hey, it's part of my character to kick GMs (and 4e) whenever possible).

I just think that the Giant's article - as I remember it (link please?) reads a bit… fanatical on the far side, and might actually turn some people away from our revelation, instead of guiding them towards the light.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 10:45 AM
The second is... and I just say you sword-sage post and I would say - even at your current view - that of the possible in-character choices there is usually one in-character (if a bit unusual for them) choice that does not lead to problems.


Edit: and if you made a character that routinely cannot make party-friendly decisions, the onus is on you.

So, Cluedrew, I think I missed (the importance of) this sentence when I was trying to summarize your points.

PhoenixPhyre, I wanted to come back to… hmmm… how much / the way that I agree with this point.

So, yes, I agree - usually, there exists some in character option that does not lead to problems.

There's a whole lot of fine print - like how aware (and socially adept) you need to be in order to successfully pick that option, and the fact that "usually" is not the same as "always" - but, at the highest level, we agree.

If, however, one particular character, when played with one particular group, *routinely* does not have good options, yes, that character is not a good fit, and a) the onus is on you to fix that, but b) the onus is on the GM (and the group) to facilitate that, and c) the onus is on everyone to evaluate how this came to be (ie, was there a failure in session 0, did the character grow badly, etc).

Further, if you *routinely* have characters who *routinely* don't have good answers, it's time for some serious evaluation.

MrSandman
2019-05-27, 12:39 PM
Link? I should enjoy checking my assumptions, rather than just going by my increasingly fallible memory.

Here (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) it is.


From what you quoted, the Giant makes some nasty assumptions there - primarily, that every group will always have more fun if your character can sometimes be talked out of their defining characteristic. This is demonstrably untrue. Some groups have had more fun with characters who are dependable in their idiosyncrasies.

How would your statement change or remain the same if instead of always it suggested that groups will generally have more fun if your character's whimsicality doesn't get in the way every scene?


Second, there's once again that hubris issue in assuming you'll know when to act in character, and when not to.

I don't think I quite follow what you're saying here. You should act in character when you're describing your characters actions and you shouldn't when you're asking your mate to pass the crisps (well, "shouldn't" is a strong word here, let's say "needn't")


Lastly, Talakeal made a character who worked with the group - until they catastrophically didn't. Why is it not the GM's responsibility to craft a campaign that works with the PCs - or, better yet, that works with any PCs / that doesn't fall apart when a PC takes an utterly predictable action? Why is it the player's responsibility to sacrifice their character on the altar of "the story", rather than the GM's responsibility to keep the game running smoothly with the characters that he accepted into the game?

I tend to favour the idea that scenes depend on input from both the GM and the players, unless railroading be present. This makes me stand against the notion that it is the GM's fault for not crafting a good enough campaign.

There are many things about Talakeal's tale that I don't understand, the main ones being why the campaign ended and why everyone was mad about it. From what I read, though, I can't see why the action was utterly predictable.

The player's responsibility is not to "sacrifice their character one the altar of 'the story'", it is to make a character that can work in that group.
Notice that I say group, not party. If your group is happy with intra-party conflict and characters being mean to each other and each one doing their own thing and all that, then there's no problem with creating a character who will be mean to the party. But if the group isn't, it is the player's responsibility to create a character that will be nice to the party. The reason is very simple: everyone is there to have fun.

From a more practical approach, you could say that it is so because if you make a whimsical, unyielding, uncompromising character, and I make a whimsical, unyielding, uncompromising character, and my cat makes a whimsical, unyielding, uncompromising character, your character will be trying to seduce every NPC we encounter, while my character stabs it, while my cat's character runs around setting off all the traps in the room.

Making the game run smoothly is not the GM's responsibility, it's everyone's responsibility.

I find that statement puzzling when it comes from someone who takes pride in using "not from here" as the whole backstory of his character. I thought you'd stated elsewhere that in your opinion a GM should know as little as possible about the PCs?
(This, by the way, is not a personal attack, I am genuinely trying to understand how these two things fit together)


Personally, I believe in setting criteria in session 0. If there's a problem, refer to session 0. If the players made PCs that do not follow session 0 guidelines, it's their problem; otherwise, it's the GM's problem.

I agree that setting criteria in session 0 is important. But I'm also aware that two people may have different understandings of what something means and, especially, that characters tend to evolve during gameplay. In my experience, most characters are played differently after a few months in the game, so whatever things one decided at character creation don't always hold true for the rest of the campaign.


Lastly, yes, "the personality you choose to craft" is on you. But, having created that personality, it exists. Advocates of my 4th stance - including my memory of my read of the Giant - do not acknowledge that.

I've never read or heard anyone suggesting that you shouldn't consider your character's personality when choosing what to do, so I wouldn't know.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 12:48 PM
The second is... and I just say you sword-sage post and I would say - even at your current view - that of the possible in-character choices there is usually one in-character (if a bit unusual for them) choice that does not lead to problems. Speaking of which I believe that things start at 3 but than move towards 2 as the campaign progresses and the character is established. Or as I put it "nothing about anything is true until it has been shown in game".

Established character.

This is probably where I disagree with you most strongly.

Everything has to come from "first principles" (yes, I've stolen and abused your phrase), otherwise, it risks incoherence. That is, how can you build a character backwards, having them ask, "how much is this", or taking any other action, if you don't know what it says about your character?

Similarly, if you don't think it through from first principles, you could take two actions that say contradictory things about your character.

Whereas, even if you don't know what that question says about your character, but you start with the personality, and roleplay them correctly, you'll say that phrase and take actions when appropriate (and not when it isn't).

Or you'll just default to your personality, always, on whether you ask that question, and that isn't part of your range.

-----

Babble babble babble. Sigh. I'm shooting all around my point, but somehow missing it.

Let me try a few more paths to "next to my point", to try to outline its shape.

Imagine a murder mystery where the GM doesn't plan "who done it" ahead of time, run by an incompetent GM. Imagine a game where "none of this actually happened - all the PCs are just insane"… when one of the players is a shrink, and knows the difference between delusions and how the PCs were ran. Imagine that I give the same level of cringe at trying to establish a *character* after the fact, from their actions.

I mean, sure, we do it all the time - ingesting media or interacting, we assign a personality to the actors. We register that they have "depth" somewhere between when we recognize that our simple personality model has failed / needed revision X times and when we start to see the underlying patterns, when we have had to assign more than Y traits understand them, etc.

From this, we may incorrectly assume that personalities can be constructed from random actions, but, for good media, the character already had that underlying cohesion that we are simply observing. And there's plenty of bad media with incoherent characters to point to that leaves its fans / detractors asking wtf the media's creator was thinking.

I want the characters to start with that depth, and to progress logically forward from that point.

Now, this may just be my own weakness, my own lack of skill, but I cannot see how to start with a random set of behavior, and work backwards to a consistent personality.

And, mind you, those behaviors aren't just the mega "killed the orcs", but the micro-acting - the word choice, the particular inflection in their tone, the facial expressions - everything that distinguishes a great actor from… everyone else.

Mind, I'm not saying that I do it right, but I certainly notice a lot of the ways that others do it wrong. For some players, when they finally "get" their characters is when my character should kill them, assuming them to be an imposter, since they clearly suddenly start behaving differently.

-----

I cannot perfectly predict what kind of plant will grow from a given seed. I have no interest in playing a character whose growth I have not witnessed, no interest in playing a character who is not established.

Thus, I greatly prefer groups with lots of one-shots, where characters come and go, to establish my characters. For anything long-term, I want to be able to choose one of my established characters, that I know will work with the premise.

-----

"I believe that things start at 3 but than move towards 2 as the campaign progresses and the character is established" - that may be one valid way to play the game, but it is not the only way. And certainly not my way.

MeimuHakurei
2019-05-27, 12:50 PM
This is the article (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) (swordsaged on the link >.>)

What I would agree on is that the "React Differently" segment seems to not take into account that there's also a responsibility for the DM to actually provide hooks that take the motivations of the characters into account. Also, people aren't perfect and can get emotional over game decisions (like the monk player he mentioned).

Then again, I always hold articles like that under scrutiny, so it's probably fine.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 01:35 PM
Here (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) it is.

This is the article (http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) (swordsaged on the link >.>)

Thanks!

EDIT: my apologies (especially to the Giant) for misrepresenting the article. There is a lot about it (especially but not exclusively its alignment-heavy subtext (alignment <> personality!)) that I dislike / disagree with, but it's generally pretty decent, and not at all as fanatically anti-personality as I remembered.


How would your statement change or remain the same if instead of always it suggested that groups will generally have more fun if your character's whimsicality doesn't get in the way every scene?

Erm, that's a lot of changes. Namely, generally, whimsy, get in the way, and every scene. I'm not about to address all 16 combinations of how my response changes.

One character's core personality trait that only comes up in certain scenes can *make* a game, even (and especially) when they don't deviate from it.

A watered down "eh, he's usually pretty honest" is unlikely to make a game.

Most groups will have more fun if you aren't running a character who gets in the way of the group's fun. That's almost tautologically true.

Some groups will prefer wishy-washy characters; others will prefer characters with more backbone, who will stand up for their principles. Shrug.


I don't think I quite follow what you're saying here. You should act in character when you're describing your characters actions and you shouldn't when you're asking your mate to pass the crisps (well, "shouldn't" is a strong word here, let's say "needn't")

"Choose differently" implies that you realize that your action is game-destroying dumb. I didn't know that Bob* was deathly afraid of spiders when I decided to play a Drow Summoner. Heck, Bob didn't know, either, until I put the huge spider mini on the table.

Talakeal didn't know that attacking this NPC would end the campaign. Heck, many of us are still scratching our collective heads over that one.

Not every decision is labeled with blindingly obvious "this is the right answer" and "you're an idiot" tags. This is one of those times when epimethian "fix it once you realize it is a problem" tactics are called for, even if only as a backup plan for when "metagame like a mother****ing dolphin" fails.

* EDIT (for clarity / compulsive honestly) - this is someone else's story, that I have blatantly stolen for illustrative purposes. "Bob" was just a name chosen "at random", and not indicative of the name of the player in the original story. I'm too senile to remember my own stories, and/or they weren't as good as this one. Although I think that something like this was part of the impetus for my own personal "choose differently" epiphany.


I tend to favour the idea that scenes depend on input from both the GM and the players, unless railroading be present.

Good answer.


This makes me stand against the notion that it is the GM's fault for not crafting a good enough campaign.

Agreed. But not everyone runs their games our way; for them, I call it the GM's fault.


There are many things about Talakeal's tale that I don't understand, the main ones being why the campaign ended and why everyone was mad about it. From what I read, though, I can't see why the action was utterly predictable.

It is - or should be - utterly predictable that someone might say "no". That it apparently never occurred to this GM is… telling.


The player's responsibility is not to "sacrifice their character one the altar of 'the story'", it is to make a character that can work in that group.
Notice that I say group, not party. If your group is happy with intra-party conflict and characters being mean to each other and each one doing their own thing and all that, then there's no problem with creating a character who will be mean to the party. But if the group isn't, it is the player's responsibility to create a character that will be nice to the party. The reason is very simple: everyone is there to have fun.

Agreed.


From a more practical approach, you could say that it is so because if you make a whimsical, unyielding, uncompromising character, and I make a whimsical, unyielding, uncompromising character, and my cat makes a whimsical, unyielding, uncompromising character, your character will be trying to seduce every NPC we encounter, while my character stabs it, while my cat's character runs around setting off all the traps in the room.

Again with the whimsy. I think "whimsy" is a red herring - and a bad one.

So, suppose that we all make characters of principle. My nature spirit follows the principles of nature, and maximizing reproduction, and AoE impregnates everything we meet… yeah, I think I'm going to stop right there.

I think that it is absolutely true that characters of principle are bad for party cohesion. This is why my evil characters are generally much more party-friendly: they have no "principles" to get in the way of working with their friends and allies.

So "all evil characters" / "no good / principled characters" is clearly the optimal session 0 statement to maximize party cohesion.


Making the game run smoothly is not the GM's responsibility, it's everyone's responsibility.

Agreed.


I find that statement puzzling when it comes from someone who takes pride in using "not from here" as the whole backstory of his character. I thought you'd stated elsewhere that in your opinion a GM should know as little as possible about the PCs?
(This, by the way, is not a personal attack, I am genuinely trying to understand how these two things fit together)

Brilliant. Kudos on catching that.

First, "not from around here" is the whole of the *public* backstory; I know a great deal more about the character.

For the most belligerent answer, you could read it as, "if you need to know anything about my character, you'd better ****ing take responsibility, and make a story that they'll work in. Otherwise, be smart, and make a story that *anyone* will work in - or define the types of characters who will/won't work, and let me choose my character accordingly". In other words, why do you need the information, if you aren't going to use it? (Hint: you don't need the information)

In other words, I'm not exclusively addressing my way of playing (despite it being obviously superior in every way :smallwink:), but also including comments that acknowledge other playstyles.

This was one of them.


I agree that setting criteria in session 0 is important. But I'm also aware that two people may have different understandings of what something means and, especially, that characters tend to evolve during gameplay. In my experience, most characters are played differently after a few months in the game, so whatever things one decided at character creation don't always hold true for the rest of the campaign.

Agreed, and agreed. This is why all those one-shots are useful, to establish what people mean by their words, and for characters to become established before being chosen for a campaign.

Really, this paragraph all but forms the core of my beliefs on this topic.


I've never read or heard anyone suggesting that you shouldn't consider your character's personality when choosing what to do, so I wouldn't know.

Really? I think I've read it several times, just in this thread.

Segev
2019-05-27, 02:29 PM
Depends on who is giving it.

My read of the article by the Giant (which was what was being referenced) was a big middle finger to role-playing and character personality.

Or, at least, that's my senile recollection. I reserve the right to be wrong. :smalltongue:

My read on it was that you should do your best, when confronted with a situation that will cause the game to fall apart if you make the "in character" choice, to find a choice or rationalization of a choice that will let you choose something that keeps the game moving. This isn't about violating your character. It does involve potentially stepping OOC and discussing it with the other players and the GM: "Okay, I don't know how to have my guy do anything but X and have it be in character. Can you guys help me identify what options there are that seem in character and are not problematic?"

Sometimes, you'll find the GM saying something like, "Well, yeah, X seems like exactly what you'd do. I was kind-of counting on it." This may surprise the players, but I've had DMs more than once who actually planned for PCs to do the seemingly-disruptive thing, with ideas on how that would progress. Half the time, the ultimatum-deliverer or whomever isn't nearly the threat the players thought, and the DM is surprised the players thought their PCs outmatched. As an ST in Exalted, I run into this fairly frequently, with NPCs who have their own agendas and my players thinking they're disrupting my plot (and apologizing for it) when they don't cooperate with the heavy-handed requests or admonishments of the NPCs. When in reality, I don't have plans for that stuff; that's just the NPCs being blowhards because they're not used to dealing with Exalts and/or are desperately trying to bluster their way through.

Other times, it's exactly as you see it: you doing X is going to, at best, get your PC out of the game while the others keep playing. So try to find reasons why he'd do something else. Perhaps the heroic PTSD guy will agree to work for the bad guy but quietly undermine his operations, for example.

That said, yes, the DM really should have thought his clever plans through, and been prepared for revolt from PCs who have issues with such strongarm tactics from such lowlife characters.

And I still don't get why the game ended. It's one PC. The others could keep on with the plot, and Talekeal could've made a new one that would work with/for them. Maybe even their "minder" appointed by the bad guy.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 03:38 PM
My read on it was that you should do your best, when confronted with a situation that will cause the game to fall apart if you make the "in character" choice, to find a choice or rationalization of a choice that will let you choose something that keeps the game moving. This isn't about violating your character. It does involve potentially stepping OOC and discussing it with the other players and the GM: "Okay, I don't know how to have my guy do anything but X and have it be in character. Can you guys help me identify what options there are that seem in character and are not problematic?"

Sometimes, you'll find the GM saying something like, "Well, yeah, X seems like exactly what you'd do. I was kind-of counting on it." This may surprise the players, but I've had DMs more than once who actually planned for PCs to do the seemingly-disruptive thing, with ideas on how that would progress. Half the time, the ultimatum-deliverer or whomever isn't nearly the threat the players thought, and the DM is surprised the players thought their PCs outmatched. As an ST in Exalted, I run into this fairly frequently, with NPCs who have their own agendas and my players thinking they're disrupting my plot (and apologizing for it) when they don't cooperate with the heavy-handed requests or admonishments of the NPCs. When in reality, I don't have plans for that stuff; that's just the NPCs being blowhards because they're not used to dealing with Exalts and/or are desperately trying to bluster their way through.

Other times, it's exactly as you see it: you doing X is going to, at best, get your PC out of the game while the others keep playing. So try to find reasons why he'd do something else. Perhaps the heroic PTSD guy will agree to work for the bad guy but quietly undermine his operations, for example.

That said, yes, the DM really should have thought his clever plans through, and been prepared for revolt from PCs who have issues with such strongarm tactics from such lowlife characters.

And I still don't get why the game ended. It's one PC. The others could keep on with the plot, and Talekeal could've made a new one that would work with/for them. Maybe even their "minder" appointed by the bad guy.

As I said, the article that is now linked, I agree, is not as reprehensible as I remembered. Perhaps I'm remembering one from the Angry GM or something?

Between your players apologizing for ruining the plot / fearing that X, the only thing that they can think would be in character to do would ruin the plot, when it's actually fine, and my comments about players ruining the fun of the game without realizing it, I'm amazed that more people aren't taking in terms of epimethian fixes and retcons after people have declared a game- or fun-destroying course of action.

It seems like "skill at fixing problems" would have come in handy at Talakeal's old table, too - "oops, you attacked the NPC, I never considered that*, I guess it's campaign over, all Talakeal's fault".

* Que "who would of thought a little water would ever fall on me?" reference

Cluedrew
2019-05-27, 07:15 PM
Also, *enjoy*? :smallredface:I mean I enjoy being on this forum, why would I be here otherwise? Just in this thread I counted 3 people I can remember having good conversations with, another that makes me feel happy for no reason when I see there name and another I feel said some good things but I can't remember what at all. And one I'm just blanking on.

Also the rest of your reply is kind of absurd because that wasn't even close to what I meant and I think you know that. Let me add a qualifier "anything that exists for the sake of the game", which excludes parents and dogs (hopefully). Why do you game? People say things like to build complex characters or get deep into a different mindset or whatever. But really that is skipping over the core reason to get to some details. People game to have fun. There are exceptions, as a learning exercise say, but I bet that is less than 1%.

So if something exists to help people have fun and it isn't doing that? Put it aside. Why stay in character if no-one is enjoying it? Trust? My friends can trust me to not make things unpleasant for them* and that seems good enough.

* Often, mistakes do happen. Which also gets to the comment about "How are you supposed to get it right every time?". You won't, I certainly can't. But I get it right more often if I am trying.

And those are the main points, I did not see get addressed since my last post. Actually one more, I'm not sure why the Giant's article is anti-personality since the assumption seems to be your character has a strong personality and it is some notes about how to make sure it works in a campaign. Then again I haven't read it in a while either.

Quertus
2019-05-27, 09:48 PM
I mean I enjoy being on this forum, why would I be here otherwise? Just in this thread I counted 3 people I can remember having good conversations with, another that makes me feel happy for no reason when I see there name and another I feel said some good things but I can't remember what at all. And one I'm just blanking on.

Also the rest of your reply is kind of absurd because that wasn't even close to what I meant and I think you know that. Let me add a qualifier "anything that exists for the sake of the game", which excludes parents and dogs (hopefully). Why do you game? People say things like to build complex characters or get deep into a different mindset or whatever. But really that is skipping over the core reason to get to some details. People game to have fun. There are exceptions, as a learning exercise say, but I bet that is less than 1%.

So if something exists to help people have fun and it isn't doing that? Put it aside. Why stay in character if no-one is enjoying it? Trust? My friends can trust me to not make things unpleasant for them* and that seems good enough.

* Often, mistakes do happen. Which also gets to the comment about "How are you supposed to get it right every time?". You won't, I certainly can't. But I get it right more often if I am trying.

And those are the main points, I did not see get addressed since my last post. Actually one more, I'm not sure why the Giant's article is anti-personality since the assumption seems to be your character has a strong personality and it is some notes about how to make sure it works in a campaign. Then again I haven't read it in a while either.

I'm… having trouble deciding which way to respond, as I've got so many possible responses.

Yes, most people game for fun. But I don't abandon my principles just because I'm playing an RPG, or at a water park, or whatever, even if doing so might increase my fun. That's… not how principles work.

Now, I'm not sure if "role-playing" is one of my principles, or one of the game's principles (it is 2/3 of the meaning of RPG, after all), or just a handy metaphor. But, in whichever case, it's not something I'll just abandon in order to optimize fun.

Were I ever to find myself in the bizarre scenario where "me role-playing" was an active detriment to the fun of those at the table - not just "me role-playing this character", but the actual act of role-playing itself - then I suppose I'd stop playing RPGs with that group. Because "RPG" without "role-playing" is just "game" - and not a particularly good one, at that.

… and, as I've said, the Giant's article that was eventually linked was not as fanatically anti-personality as I recalled. It mistook "alignment" for "personality" something fierce, and made numerous other mistakes, but it was either not the article that I associate with the phrase "choose differently", or my memory is getting even worse than I remember. Either way, I have already - and will continue to - apologize for misrepresenting the Giant's article.

RedWarlock
2019-05-27, 11:14 PM
Quertus, I mean this in the kindest way possible for such a statement, so please take it by the intent in which it was offered:

Your methods and strictures about gaming are not so strictly held by the majority of folks, and I am glad for that, because while I can appreciate your points, I would not enjoy playing with your style of player at my table. You do you just fine, but we would conflict too much for either of us to enjoy it.

Roleplaying is, in my book, for the purpose of fun. Roleplay is itself not a reward, it is an action. Roleplaying which divorces itself from enjoyment is work, labor, and it is at that point no longer a game. Both portions of the label are just as critical, roleplaying AND game, and neither can take supremacy without destroying the fundamental nature of the activity.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-27, 11:22 PM
… and, as I've said, the Giant's article that was eventually linked was not as fanatically anti-personality as I recalled. It mistook "alignment" for "personality" something fierce, and made numerous other mistakes, but it was either not the article that I associate with the phrase "choose differently", or my memory is getting even worse than I remember. Either way, I have already - and will continue to - apologize for misrepresenting the Giant's article.

If you're like me, it's the legion of people on these boards who read that article and then use it as an excuse to spout off a bunch of ridiculous nonsense.

NichG
2019-05-27, 11:45 PM
This kind of discussion really makes me feel that principles are an anti-pattern to successful group dynamics. They're basically the equivalent to making an ultimatum - fully accept and endorse this behavior, or kick me out/I will leave.

One of the points to 'choose differently' for me is to recognize that when someone is saying 'it's what my character would do', that's not just an explanation of their behavior, it's a request that it be excused or that blame be attributed to someone else - and that, regardless of what explanation they offer for why they behaved that way, it's fundamentally the case that they could have chosen to behave differently (and, in fact, often they could have behaved differently in a way that doesn't fully compromise the factors underlying their explanation). So rather than dealing with that situation the way you'd deal with an accident or mistake, it makes sense to deal with it the way you'd handle something deliberate. They're not just saying 'oops', they're asking for a concession. Combining that with naming it a matter of principle, they're asking for a concession while simultaneously refusing to give a concession in return.

That doesn't seem like a good social dynamic to me, regardless of what anyone might say about the nature of roleplaying.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 12:12 AM
Quertus, I mean this in the kindest way possible for such a statement, so please take it by the intent in which it was offered:

Your methods and strictures about gaming are not so strictly held by the majority of folks, and I am glad for that, because while I can appreciate your points, I would not enjoy playing with your style of player at my table. You do you just fine, but we would conflict too much for either of us to enjoy it.

Roleplaying is, in my book, for the purpose of fun. Roleplay is itself not a reward, it is an action. Roleplaying which divorces itself from enjoyment is work, labor, and it is at that point no longer a game. Both portions of the label are just as critical, roleplaying AND game, and neither can take supremacy without destroying the fundamental nature of the activity.

Confusion. Which part - the role-playing in an RPG, the willingness to metagame like a mother****ing dolphin and choose differently, the willingness to retcon a failed game back to a functional game state, or demanding that "choose differently" be applied to the GM's NPCs too - do you feel would cause constant conflict at your table?


This kind of discussion really makes me feel that principles are an anti-pattern to successful group dynamics.

I mean, I already pointed out how characters with principles are a detriment to party group dynamics, so I cannot help but agree with you. It's kinda a tautology that anything that gets in the way of the group dynamic gets in the way of the group dynamic, and principles definitely can get in the way of the group dynamic.

Segev
2019-05-28, 12:49 AM
Principles only cause conflict when they are opposed by other, contrary principles. Generally, it’s the person whose principles are in the minority who gets credited or blamed for sticking by them and “causing conflict,” though it can also be the more honest one who didn’t poison the well and pass his principles off as “just how things are,” such that anybody with differing principles is automatically the bad guy opposing what’s “natural.”

But usually, it’s the former.

Great Dragon
2019-05-28, 01:48 AM
This kind of discussion really makes me feel that principles are an anti-pattern to successful group dynamics. They're basically the equivalent to making an ultimatum - fully accept and endorse this behavior, or kick me out/ I will leave.

From what I understand of the original complaint Talakeal made, the ultimatum was more on the DMs side of that "Encounter".

Talakeal's PC had clear motivations, with behavior patterns backed by the "principals" of his LG Alignment - already fully established in the game.

The GM caused the Encounter With Powerful NPC, and made it where the "villain" in question made the "Join or Die" ultimatum.

To me, this encounter shouldn't have happened unless (A) the rest of the party was also there and (B) the DM planned it to be the Final Encounter. With the DM planning for the campaign to end, either way. Talakeal's response shouldn't have surprised the DM.

Reminds me entirely too much of the old "Paladin Trap" - where the PC either Turned Evil, Fell From Grace, and/or Permanently Died: with no escape or rescue possible.
*******
As far as the "PC/NPC and Monster" abilities being different, that's a Session Zero World Building problem, and I'd say that unless the Players were willing to sit down and hash out everything dealing with this, don't bother.
******
As for "Wounded Monsters", it's not really needed in most of the Editions I've played/DMed.

It's why all the non-PCs always have Average HPs in their stat blocks. Shows that they don't have maximum "resources" and saves the DM time rolling HD +Con times Level for every monster in every Encounter.
Which most likely wasn't planned, because - you know - Random Encounter.
*********

Talakeal
The best suggestion I can offer is:
To run the game for your Group for maybe a month (4-6 sessions) without Legendary Actions (maybe keep Lair Actions for flavor during Boss fights) and see if that makes them happy - or at least complain less.

Then ask how they feel, as well as do analysis on your feelings about it.

Earthwalker
2019-05-28, 03:21 AM
Yes, most people game for fun. But I don't abandon my principles just because I'm playing an RPG, or at a water park, or whatever, even if doing so might increase my fun. That's… not how principles work.

Now, I'm not sure if "role-playing" is one of my principles, or one of the game's principles (it is 2/3 of the meaning of RPG, after all), or just a handy metaphor. But, in whichever case, it's not something I'll just abandon in order to optimize fun.



This reads like...

If I am in a campaign that has lasted for 200 hours. If for 10 mins I have to not role play, then the entire experience is ruined and I have broken my core principles.
The entire experience is ruined and pointless. I have wasted 200 hours.

Which seems in conflict with your tales of meta-gaming dolphins.

So my question is, are their times when you would back off the role playing just to move forward ?

NichG
2019-05-28, 05:50 AM
From what I understand of the original complaint Talakeal made, the ultimatum was more on the DMs side of that "Encounter".

Talakeal's PC had clear motivations, with behavior patterns backed by the "principals" of his LG Alignment - already fully established in the game.

The GM caused the Encounter With Powerful NPC, and made it where the "villain" in question made the "Join or Die" ultimatum.

To me, this encounter shouldn't have happened unless (A) the rest of the party was also there and (B) the DM planned it to be the Final Encounter. With the DM planning for the campaign to end, either way. Talakeal's response shouldn't have surprised the DM.

Reminds me entirely too much of the old "Paladin Trap" - where the PC either Turned Evil, Fell From Grace, and/or Permanently Died: with no escape or rescue possible.

'Principles' on either side don't justify or excuse behavior that damages the group dynamic. So in this case, the DM should have 'chosen differently' once the join or die thing was likely to have ended the campaign. And if Talakeal felt that in that situation their character would have been so driven to stop the villain that even if it was futile they would kill themselves trying, then in that case Talakeal should 'choose differently' upon recognizing that that course of action would likely cause the game to fall apart.

But if the DM says 'well, realistically the NPC should just kill you if you say no' that doesn't excuse the DM from having responsibility over what happened. Neither would Talakeal saying 'my guy wouldn't compromise at all or do anything other then charge headlong into death' excuse Talakeal from having responsibility over what happened.

The point is, everyone involved has a responsibility for what happens. The only people who don't have responsibility? Fictional entities such as 'Talakeal's character' or 'the DM's NPC'. They don't exist, can't make choices, and don't get to be used as excuses to hide behind when something goes wrong. That's the point.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 06:06 AM
This reads like...

If I am in a campaign that has lasted for 200 hours. If for 10 mins I have to not role play, then the entire experience is ruined and I have broken my core principles.
The entire experience is ruined and pointless. I have wasted 200 hours.

Which seems in conflict with your tales of meta-gaming dolphins.

So my question is, are their times when you would back off the role playing just to move forward ?

Two Three several things:

1) you are at a water park. There is an elderly couple struggling in front of you, slowing things down. Would you push them out of the way / murder them just to move forward?

2) per my falling into category #2 on my list of 4, metagaming like a mother****ing dolphin, for me, equals "evaluating what I know the scenario, the players, and their expressions, and making my best guess whether my intended action would be massively detrimental to their fun. If so, ask myself, 'is there another course of action that would also be in character, but would not negatively impact the group's fun?'. If not, return error."

3) it is foolhardy hubris to believe that one will always know best what will produce maximal fun for everyone at the table, and laughably overconfident faith to believe everyone else at the table will do so, too. Thus, one should expect that, even if everyone at the table is metagaming like a mother****ing dolphin, someone (especially the GM) may still declare a fun-destroying action while role-playing their characters.

4) in the event that role-playing and fun have reached an impasse, ask the GM to just "choose differently".

5) in the event that all participants in the scenario respond that there is no in-character different choice that will allow the game to move forward in a fun fashion,

5a) some would advocate that the player ignore role-playing, and have their PC take an uncharacteristic action, murdering the elderly couple to allow fun to move forward.

5b) instead, why not have the elderly couple move out of the way; ie, have the GM choose differently with these troublesome bit player NPCs, to allow the game to move forward without sacrificing the character of the more important (and generally more established) PCs?

5c) or (IMO, better yet), why not rewind the scenario until you reach a point where everyone can move forward, in character, in a way that produces rather than destroys fun, by just "choosing differently" at that point?

In other words, it takes two to argue. If you hold everyone to the same standards of choosing differently, there is no reason for the (established) PCs to make out of character choices, when the (generally unestablished) NPCs could just do the same.

If you come along with us, and murder that elderly couple at the water park so that we can just move forward, I guarantee it will ruin the whole day. Sacrificing the *character* of the character - much like the GM fudging or otherwise giving unearned results - will have much the same effect.

So, to directly answer your question, no, I see no reason to ever sacrifice role-playing a PC, as there are better alternatives. (EDIT: or, alternately, yes, I might do so as GM)

Earthwalker
2019-05-28, 06:21 AM
Two Three

[snip]



Sorry for the snip too many other discussions in there.
No I will not murder people to move a live forward. Hope that clears that up.

I think my issue is. I don't equate spending 10 mins of not having fun out of a 100 hour experience to be the same as murdering people.

So when situations arise then I am willing to spend those 10 mins not having fun. equally I would expect if the solution to the problem was another player (or GM) not having fun for 10 mins to be fine as well.

It still seems your point of view is.

Its ok for the GM to have 10 mins of not fun.
Its ok for another player to have 10 mins of not fun.
Its ok for the whole group apart from me to have not fun.

What is not ok, is for 10 mins for me to have not fun. If that happens then the whole 100 hour experience is ruined for me.

I just don't get that.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 06:22 AM
'Principles' on either side don't justify or excuse behavior that damages the group dynamic. So in this case, the DM should have 'chosen differently' once the join or die thing was likely to have ended the campaign. And if Talakeal felt that in that situation their character would have been so driven to stop the villain that even if it was futile they would kill themselves trying, then in that case Talakeal should 'choose differently' upon recognizing that that course of action would likely cause the game to fall apart.

But if the DM says 'well, realistically the NPC should just kill you if you say no' that doesn't excuse the DM from having responsibility over what happened. Neither would Talakeal saying 'my guy wouldn't compromise at all or do anything other then charge headlong into death' excuse Talakeal from having responsibility over what happened.

The point is, everyone involved has a responsibility for what happens. The only people who don't have responsibility? Fictional entities such as 'Talakeal's character' or 'the DM's NPC'. They don't exist, can't make choices, and don't get to be used as excuses to hide behind when something goes wrong. That's the point.

Bloody awesome post!

I would like to point out, however, that, in this scenario, it seemed that the point at which Talakeal knew that his action was problematic was the point at which the GM declared, "campaign over, Talakeal's fault".

So, while I don't disagree, I still hold the GM 100% accountable / at fault for neither moving the discussion OOC once they recognized the problem, nor retconning to a valid state from which to move forward by "choosing differently".

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-28, 06:40 AM
I think it's important to note that blame is not conserved. Multiple people can be 100% to blame. Anyone who chooses to be inflexible in a game-destroying fashion is at fault when the game gets destroyed. Everyone has the obligation to compromise* if they want the game to continue.

* Or leave the game, if compromise is impossible.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 06:49 AM
Sorry for the snip too many other discussions in there.
No I will not murder people to move a live forward. Hope that clears that up.

I think my issue is. I don't equate spending 10 mins of not having fun out of a 100 hour experience to be the same as murdering people.

So when situations arise then I am willing to spend those 10 mins not having fun. equally I would expect if the solution to the problem was another player (or GM) not having fun for 10 mins to be fine as well.

It still seems your point of view is.

Its ok for the GM to have 10 mins of not fun.
Its ok for another player to have 10 mins of not fun.
Its ok for the whole group apart from me to have not fun.

What is not ok, is for 10 mins for me to have not fun. If that happens then the whole 100 hour experience is ruined for me.

I just don't get that.

OK, so we've established that you get the concept of sticking to your principles, even if you might have more fun in the moment if you didn't. Great.

Now, why don't you get the rest? Hmmm… So, I think your problem is your definition of "fun". So, let me try to reword that into something more clear.

Everyone gets to choose how important things (like role-playing) are to them. Admittedly, the guy who has no separation of IC vs OOC knowledge is kinda a pain, but whatever.

Each player is responsible for moving their playing piece. They - and only they - have final authority over what its valid moves are. (See "the players run the PCs, the GM runs everything else").

If these playing pieces would be moved into an error state (here - and only here - we get to use the word "fun", where an error state is defined as something massively detrimental to the table's fun), then check for resolution.

Each playing piece involved is checked for alternate valid moves that resolve the error state. If none are found, rewind until a board position with valid moves is found.

There was a comment earlier in the thread about how "nothing is real until it is established". Cribbing on that, and on the fact that the PCs are the "main characters", whom the spotlight follows, with NPCs generally playing "bit parts" in support of the PCs, I posited that the onus was stronger on the GM to "choose differently" with their NPCs.

So, no, the goal is to optimize everyone's fun. And I have outlined my technique for doing so.

Forcing me to either "not roleplay", or to "act against character" (two different things, btw) would be catastrophically detrimental to my fun. Choose differently. Or do you not care about the fun of others at the table? Do you, contrary to your statement, actually get "only your fun matters"?

NichG
2019-05-28, 06:50 AM
The utility of blame is recognizing that the outcome can be controlled, so that in the future it can be different.

Earthwalker
2019-05-28, 07:01 AM
OK, so we've established that you get the concept of sticking to your principles, even if you might have more fun in the moment if you didn't. Great.

Now, why don't you get the rest? Hmmm… So, I think your problem is your definition of "fun". So, let me try to reword that into something more clear.

Everyone gets to choose how important things (like role-playing) are to them. Admittedly, the guy who has no separation of IC vs OOC knowledge is kinda a pain, but whatever.

Each player is responsible for moving their playing piece. They - and only they - have final authority over what its valid moves are. (See "the players run the PCs, the GM runs everything else").

If these playing pieces would be moved into an error state (here - and only here - we get to use the word "fun", where an error state is defined as something massively detrimental to the table's fun), then check for resolution.

Each playing piece involved is checked for alternate valid moves that resolve the error state. If none are found, rewind until a board position with valid moves is found.

There was a comment earlier in the thread about how "nothing is real until it is established". Cribbing on that, and on the fact that the PCs are the "main characters", whom the spotlight follows, with NPCs generally playing "bit parts" in support of the PCs, I posited that the onus was stronger on the GM to "choose differently" with their NPCs.

So, no, the goal is to optimize everyone's fun. And I have outlined my technique for doing so.

Forcing me to either "not roleplay", or to "act against character" (two different things, btw) would be catastrophically detrimental to my fun. Choose differently. Or do you not care about the fun of others at the table? Do you, contrary to your statement, actually get "only your fun matters"?

I know you do GM.

So when GMing and you encounter a player who says.

Look this situation we are in, and the actions your NPC has taken are causing me problems as I can't think of what to do that wont break the game. Can you choose differently for the NPC.

Then in your head changing the NPCs action goes against their character, or is not role playing. Do you choose again or make the PC change their action ?

Cluedrew
2019-05-28, 07:04 AM
Yes, most people game for fun. But I don't abandon my principles just because I'm playing an RPG, or at a water park, or whatever, even if doing so might increase my fun. That's… not how principles work.You have entirely overblown the issue. If we are going to use the word principle for staying in character, it must be in the sense of "principles of game design" (or in this case of game-playing) not as a moral principle.

Staying in character is not an inherently moral decision because it doesn't effect good or evil. And it also has nothing to do with being at a waterpark so I would "abandon" that principle of game-play at a waterpark simply because it does not apply.

Now I did say inherently, staying in character can become a moral decision at the table if it has a noticeable effect on how much fun everyone is having. If breaking character means a better outcome, than you should do it. Not because of any game-play ideal, but because we live in a community and should look after our friends. If it is neutral or better to stay in character, then yes stay in character. And no I still don't expect you to get it right every time, but I will be disappointed if you don't try. And if you are unsure than maybe ask the rest of the table.

Or put a different way if I was forced to pick between the principle of "stay in character" and "make sure my friends are enjoying themselves" (although they don't often conflict) than I know which one I will stick to.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 07:05 AM
I think it's important to note that blame is not conserved. Multiple people can be 100% to blame. Anyone who chooses to be inflexible in a game-destroying fashion is at fault when the game gets destroyed. Everyone has the obligation to compromise* if they want the game to continue.

* Or leave the game, if compromise is impossible.


The utility of blame is recognizing that the outcome can be controlled, so that in the future it can be different.

Suppose I have the plague. I shake your hand. I am physically responsible for you catching the plague.

But if I didn't know that I had the plague, it's different from if I knew.

Did Talakeal know that his actions would cause a catastrophic game failure? No.

Should he have known? Probably not - there are numerous things other Playgrounders have put forth as ways it could have gone differently after he attacked, or even after he died, than the GM declaring the campaign over.

Could he have known? … maybe? Honestly, I suspect that GM was too "Bizarro World" for predicting their insanity to be a reasonable assumption, but, as we only have Talakeal's side of the story, we'll never know for sure.

So, in general, yes, Talakeal could have chosen differently, and the onus is on all players to get better at looking for opportunities to "choose differently" in ways that maximize fun for all.

In practice, information is imperfect, mistakes will be made, and people need to be prepared for when that happens.

The GM in question was not prepared.

By the time that the problem was brought up, there was nothing Talakeal could do. Thus, there is nothing for Talakeal to learn about "choose differently" to better resolve "GM throws up his hands, declares 'campaign over, Talakeal's fault'.".

Earthwalker
2019-05-28, 07:13 AM
You have entirely overblown the issue. If we are going to use the word principle for staying in character, it must be in the sense of "principles of game design" (or in this case of game-playing) not as a moral principle.

Staying in character is not an inherently moral decision because it doesn't effect good or evil. And it also has nothing to do with being at a waterpark so I would "abandon" that principle of game-play at a waterpark simply because it does not apply.

Now I did say inherently, staying in character can become a moral decision at the table if it has a noticeable effect on how much fun everyone is having. If breaking character means a better outcome, than you should do it. Not because of any game-play ideal, but because we live in a community and should look after our friends. If it is neutral or better to stay in character, then yes stay in character. And no I still don't expect you to get it right every time, but I will be disappointed if you don't try. And if you are unsure than maybe ask the rest of the table.

Or put a different way if I was forced to pick between the principle of "stay in character" and "make sure my friends are enjoying themselves" (although they don't often conflict) than I know which one I will stick to.

As is the norm Cluedrew has said something I wanted to say far better than I could.

Also summed up my misunderstanding and what was the itch at the back of my brain.

Its basically I don't have a role playing principal strong enough to override the fun of the group.

NichG
2019-05-28, 07:27 AM
Suppose I have the plague. I shake your hand. I am physically responsible for you catching the plague.

But if I didn't know that I had the plague, it's different from if I knew.

If you shake someone's hand, and they catch the plague, and I see this interaction, and after all that your reaction is 'well, I couldn't have known, oh well', then I will never in the future shake your hand. It's not a matter of whether you're a 'bad person' or something - I know that your behavior makes you more likely to subject me to risk than someone who takes responsibility and e.g. sees a doctor after they visit a plague zone, or limits exposure to other people when they were themselves potentially exposed to sick people, or things like that.

The utility of blame is that, by understanding your role as a vector for the plague, I can reduce the chance that I will get it in the future. By blaming you, I know how to get a better outcome for myself. But also, if you accept the blame, you can change your behavior in such a way that we can still shake hands in the future without me putting myself in undue risk. If I see you accepting the blame and changing your behavior, then even if you make a mistake once I can trust you in the future.

Blame can be used to figure out a better future course of action in two ways - someone to blame can act to change their own behavior, or the people around them can act to limit the ability of the person who is to blame to have influence that could cause problems in the future. The value of responsibility is that by taking it seriously, there's a pathway to fixing the problem that doesn't involve isolating people after they make an error.

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-28, 07:37 AM
Suppose I have the plague. I shake your hand. I am physically responsible for you catching the plague.

But if I didn't know that I had the plague, it's different from if I knew.

Did Talakeal know that his actions would cause a catastrophic game failure? No.

Should he have known? Probably not - there are numerous things other Playgrounders have put forth as ways it could have gone differently after he attacked, or even after he died, than the GM declaring the campaign over.

Could he have known? … maybe? Honestly, I suspect that GM was too "Bizarro World" for predicting their insanity to be a reasonable assumption, but, as we only have Talakeal's side of the story, we'll never know for sure.

So, in general, yes, Talakeal could have chosen differently, and the onus is on all players to get better at looking for opportunities to "choose differently" in ways that maximize fun for all.

In practice, information is imperfect, mistakes will be made, and people need to be prepared for when that happens.

The GM in question was not prepared.

By the time that the problem was brought up, there was nothing Talakeal could do. Thus, there is nothing for Talakeal to learn about "choose differently" to better resolve "GM throws up his hands, declares 'campaign over, Talakeal's fault'.".

No. Making an inflexible character, one whose "core principles" are so firmly held that any deviation is character-breaking, is an error (on the player's part). Making a situation that requires a certain action or the game ends is an error (on the DM's part). Choosing not to retcon/change/adjust is an error on both parts. It is never too late unless the game has already ended and no one's speaking. As soon as someone realizes that things are heading down, they need to step up and say something. It's not only the DM's responsibility OR the player's responsibility. It's everyone's responsibility, including the other players.

You seem to only, ever, exclusively blame DMs for problems and take player decisions as sacrosanct. That kind of one-sided bias (or the reverse, in fact) is the entire problem here, both with the OP's group and with many other similar ones. When a game ends badly, multiple people have made bad decisions. Everyone has something to learn, whether they were principally responsible or not. Even if that thing to learn is "he's a jerk, better not play with him again." Putting blame on one person or another solves nothing and generally makes people defensive. Diagnosing the root of the problem is what matters. And inflexibility and refusal to compromise (in characterization or in situation development), along with an unwillingness to communicate openly and honestly[1] are obvious sources of pending problems.

[1] The whole thing (and many others) can be avoided if people have the common courtesy to talk through their actions and consequences before committing. Eg:
* Hey DM, I'm planning to make a character who won't work with criminals. Is that a problem?
* Uh, yeah. Might want to rethink that.

or

* DM: If you take that action, I don't see any way to avoid a Game Over because ... What if you instead did ...
* Player: I can't do ..., what if ...

Yes, it's totally meta-game discussion. But it's necessary meta-game discussion. The only sacred principle is the fun of the group. Any impediment to that should be removed. If that means that one person can no longer play due to irreconcilable differences, so be it.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 07:46 AM
I know you do GM.

So when GMing and you encounter a player who says.

Look this situation we are in, and the actions your NPC has taken are causing me problems as I can't think of what to do that wont break the game. Can you choose differently for the NPC.

Then in your head changing the NPCs action goes against their character, or is not role playing. Do you choose again or make the PC change their action ?

False dichotomy. I've already outlined my technique, but let's step though it with more of a GM-side flavor.

Yes, you've followed it correctly from the player happens to be the one to recognize the issue, trying to choose differently, and even intelligently explaining the current game state to the GM / me. Awesome!

So. At this point, I would… OK, I would add in a few extra steps as GM. Hopefully, this won't confuse the issue. I'll mark those extra steps off for ease of… reading, I suppose.

-----

So (per another poster from this thread), I would want to verify that their intended action would *actually* break the game. I've been focusing on "metagaming like a mother****ing dolphin" returning false negatives, but it can return false positives, as well. Which is especially true for players who come from a "story" background, and aren't accustomed to my "sandbox" style.

-----

Then I evaluate if the NPC can "choose differently" and be in character (elderly couple decides to take a break). I *also* evaluate if any *other* NPCs could "choose differently" and intervene (water park staff come along and help the elderly couple, for example). I *also* sanity check "is murdering the elderly couple being the only possible response really sane?", and, if "no", file it away for further investigation.

If, with the entire world at my disposal, I cannot see any way for anyone to choose differently and still be in character to resolve this situation?

-----

Then I ask, "what happens if this NPC breaks character?". See, I don't just write "surely guard" in my notes, I know (some of) what's going on in his head, how he's connected to the other NPCs, why he's acting the way he is. Breaking character with the NPC could have catastrophic repercussions that would be difficult to impossible to fix.

So, if it's easy to rewrite this portion of the NPC's personality (and the player seems sane and not unduly needy (see Talakeal's players)), sure, I'll rewrite the bit NPC for the sake of the game.

However, if this check throws an error? What do I do then?

Well, I open it to the floor. I ask if anyone has any suggestions for how we could resolve this.

Each player is still the final arbiter of what are valid moves for their playing piece(s), of course, but the other players may have ideas that we never considered that are still in character.

If this fails to produce results, we rewind to the last known good state (right before the elderly couple got in line, right before Talakeal was told "join me or die"), and repeat the "choose differently" process from there. Or intelligently skip to a spot where we agree we can move forward.


Or put a different way if I was forced to pick between the principle of "stay in character" and "make sure my friends are enjoying themselves" (although they don't often conflict) than I know which one I will stick to.

And if "staying in character" is necessary for my enjoyment of an RPG?

I'm safeguarding the fun of *everyone* at the table, not just *everyone else*.

The *one thing* I get to do in an RPG is roleplay my character. Being forced to take an "opposed to character" action invalidates the entire experience (much like GM fudging does).

So, at a table with me, you'd want to make sure I was enjoying myself, and work hard to ensure that I don't have to take that action, right?

-----

If two players' fun come into conflict (two players have mutually exclusive cool ideas how to move forward), you have a problem.

If "me role-playing this character this way at this moment" is an issue, I'll see if I can "choose differently". If me role-playing this character in general is an issue, I'll bring someone else. In the all but inconceivable event that me role-playing, period, is an issue in an RPG? Then there's no point to playing an RPG - there are much better games.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 07:57 AM
Its basically I don't have a role playing principal strong enough to override the fun of the group.

Every person gets to choose how much they roleplay, and what they enjoy.

If I enjoy rolling dice, that is independent of whether you enjoy rolling dice.

No one (but you?) is talking about overriding the fun of the group. *I* am talking about maximizing and safeguarding the fun of the group.

I'm honestly not sure where your disconnect is.

Cluedrew
2019-05-28, 08:16 AM
As is the norm Cluedrew has said something I wanted to say far better than I could.That's the norm?


And if "staying in character" is necessary for my enjoyment of an RPG?
[...]
So, at a table with me, you'd want to make sure I was enjoying myself, and work hard to ensure that I don't have to take that action, right?These is this whole optimization problem in making sure everyone is having as much fun as possible, that the problem and moment of un-fun are evenly distributed. It is nearly impossible to solve perfectly because we can't see any of the numbers and even if we could there are hosts of other issues.

But we should try anyways. And yes I will keep in mind everyone's characters and what they (the players) enjoy in this came. My threshold for "work hard" is such that no, I'm not going to work that hard for a game, sorry, I want to be able to show up and enjoy myself too. And someone that difficult is not worth playing with (but I have never seen it require that much work in the past, so it may be fine).

And then there is the advantage of numbers, most of the time sticking to your character makes the game fun for everyone and that is good. Other times it will just cause someone (me for example) a moment of annoyance and in that case its fine. If it ends the campaign in a bad way and leave a bad taste in everybody (else's?) mouth... mistakes were made we have put you in a bad position and I would be sorry if that happened but there is a right choice there. That is assuming it is a simple stay-in-character/break-character choice, if we stop and talk it out maybe we can make things work a bit better.


No one (but you?) is talking about overriding the fun of the group.But that is what you and I are talking about, you just haven't realized it yet. Does what we have said make more sense in that light?

Quertus
2019-05-28, 08:19 AM
If you shake someone's hand, and they catch the plague, and I see this interaction, and after all that your reaction is 'well, I couldn't have known, oh well', then I will never in the future shake your hand. It's not a matter of whether you're a 'bad person' or something - I know that your behavior makes you more likely to subject me to risk than someone who takes responsibility and e.g. sees a doctor after they visit a plague zone, or limits exposure to other people when they were themselves potentially exposed to sick people, or things like that.

The utility of blame is that, by understanding your role as a vector for the plague, I can reduce the chance that I will get it in the future. By blaming you, I know how to get a better outcome for myself. But also, if you accept the blame, you can change your behavior in such a way that we can still shake hands in the future without me putting myself in undue risk. If I see you accepting the blame and changing your behavior, then even if you make a mistake once I can trust you in the future.

Blame can be used to figure out a better future course of action in two ways - someone to blame can act to change their own behavior, or the people around them can act to limit the ability of the person who is to blame to have influence that could cause problems in the future. The value of responsibility is that by taking it seriously, there's a pathway to fixing the problem that doesn't involve isolating people after they make an error.

More awesome - you're on a roll!

I have the same stance regarding blame. So kudos!

However, humans are idiots. Look at all the dumb things that they've thought throughout history.

Then look at how much confusion the Playground (generally a bit above the general population, IMO) has had trying to make sense of Talakeal's GM's actions.

Honestly, I suspect that it's entirely possible that the GM had the NPC make this ultimatum on purpose, knowing how Talakeal would roleplay his character, just to end the campaign and/or to blame Talakeal. We've all heard similar stories before.

Under that potential scenario, there is no blame to be given to Talakeal, IMO, as there is nothing (that isn't dysfunction) for him to learn from the experience.

Under the, uh, "default" scenario, well, it's still a head scratcher, and we'd likely all give Talakeal different (and possibly contradictory) advice.

So, I agree, Talakeal was involved in that scenario. But I think that the only thing that we can agree that he has to learn from the experience… is that he has something to learn.

If I didn't come from a plague zone, how could I have known to be checked out? OK, that juxtaposition of metaphors is poor, as the claim is that Talakeal games in Bizarro World (which he has recently narrowed down to two players, so kudos Talakeal!), but hopefully you get the point. Which is: sometimes, the most you can learn from a scenario is that you have something to learn.

Yes, it is incumbent upon the individual to then perform due diligence in attempting to educate themselves. Which may or may not be fruitful. See again all the silly things humans have believed.

In short, I agree, but want to make sure that we don't edge into "blame the victim" territory.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-28, 08:20 AM
I've always thought people are weirdly hung up on keeping the game running at all costs. If a character sticks to their principles to the bitter end and dies for it, as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. What more satisfying end could you possibly want? That's not necessarily the end of the game, people do have the ability to make a new character, shift situations, do something new. Or if it is the end of the game, that's a good end to the game.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 08:29 AM
You seem to only, ever, exclusively blame DMs for problems and take player decisions as sacrosanct.

That is the character I'm role-playing :smallwink:

Otherwise, your post is saying almost exactly what I'm saying. So… I agree?


These is this whole optimization problem in making sure everyone is having as much fun as possible,

But that is what you and I are talking about, you just haven't realized it yet. Does what we have said make more sense in that light?

Um, no? Maximizing fun and overriding fun seem different in my book. Or, rather, equating "looking for ways not to seriously jeopardize people's fun" with "killing people's fun" seems fundamentally wrong.

(EDIT - unless y'all both mean the trivial "my intended action would kill / override your fun"… but then I'm still missing a point somewhere, as we are discussing "choose differently" / "metagame…”; ie, techniques to *not* do that.)

(EDIT 2 - unless y'all have somehow equated "choose differently" / "metagame…” with "role-playing", when, really, it applies equally to any action, regardless of the level of role-playing behind it)

PhoenixPhyre
2019-05-28, 08:43 AM
I've always thought people are weirdly hung up on keeping the game running at all costs. If a character sticks to their principles to the bitter end and dies for it, as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing. What more satisfying end could you possibly want? That's not necessarily the end of the game, people do have the ability to make a new character, shift situations, do something new. Or if it is the end of the game, that's a good end to the game.

If one character does so, that's fine. Kill them off and bring someone more suited to the game that everyone else wants to play. Or if everyone agrees, then it's fine. But if 4/5 people want the game to continue and one destroys it, that's a problem in my book. Because one guy who refuses to bend (or change), and does so with acrimony, can certainly ruin a whole gaming group. I've seen it happen.

The fun of the group is paramount in my eyes, and everyone should be willing to actively seek out acceptable compromises. "I have to play this <mega-ultra-OP> character" is not an acceptable compromise for most people. "I have to play <lawful stupid>" is not an acceptable compromise in a morally-grey game. "I have to play <murder-hobo supreme>" is not an acceptable compromise in a shining-hero game. Etc. I don't care what you decided your character was going to be like before play started--if the personality or mechanics you built makes others have less fun, you have a few options:
1. Change the character. Whether as "moral growth/decay" in-play or as a retcon, I don't care.
2. Change characters. Whether the ill-fitting character rides off into the sunset, becomes an NPC, or dies doesn't matter to me. But your next one better fit better.
3. Leave the group. The last-resort option. I've actually done this, when it was obvious that the rest of the table wanted to play in a style (blatant sex scenes and drugging kids) that I could not stomach.

In no case does "my character would do X" serve as an adequate justification for bad player behavior.


That is the character I'm role-playing :smallwink:

Otherwise, your post is saying almost exactly what I'm saying. So… I agree?


Honestly, I'm totally confused as to what you're trying to say. You've been all over the map and your stance now seems to conflict heavily with your expressed stances elsewhere.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 08:56 AM
Honestly, I'm totally confused as to what you're trying to say. You've been all over the map and your stance now seems to conflict heavily with your expressed stances elsewhere.

No you're not - you just said it.

For the most part, I've less been "all over the map", and more been "all over the elephant", if I may coin a phrase. That is, I've been describing small parts of the same thing in different contexts, as encountered by different groups. Or small pieces of a complex thing, each easier to grasp than the whole.

When what I've said sounds like one thing rather than many, you've seen the elephant! (Assuming my sanity held, of course)

EDIT: Towards that end, allow me to repeat / rephrase a high-level overview:

Metagame like a mother****ing dolphin

On error: can I solve this myself?

Can we solve this together?

When was this not broken?

Tally error. Evaluate. What can we learn?

Character should change?

Character should retire?

Player should change?

Player should retire?

EDIT 2: if anything seems contradictory, please, bring it to my attention. I may be communicating poorly, or (heaven forbid!) I may have grown. (I hit my head too often already!)

NichG
2019-05-28, 08:57 AM
More awesome - you're on a roll!

I have the same stance regarding blame. So kudos!

However, humans are idiots. Look at all the dumb things that they've thought throughout history.

Honestly, I suspect that it's entirely possible that the GM had the NPC make this ultimatum on purpose, knowing how Talakeal would roleplay his character, just to end the campaign and/or to blame Talakeal. We've all heard similar stories before.

Under that potential scenario, there is no blame to be given to Talakeal, IMO, as there is nothing (that isn't dysfunction) for him to learn from the experience.

Well, one lesson has been mentioned already - when there's an apparent disconnect and someone else at the table says the equivalent of 'hey, wanna play chicken with that cliff?', drop OOC and make sure everyone is explicitly aware of how it's going to go.

Another, along the lines of 'choose differently': you are allowed to lie (and you're allowed not to care if the GM then says that your alignment changes)

There are harder lessons too, but this example isn't there yet (such as: when should you cheat?)

Should Talakeal be censured for not doing these things? No. But it's good to be aware that options existed, even if imperfect ones.

Segev
2019-05-28, 09:30 AM
I still don't get why Talekeal's PC dying from attacking the superNPC of Evil ended the campaign. :smallconfused:

Talakeal
2019-05-28, 09:31 AM
Wow, lots of activity while I was on the road.

To clarify, this was a solo game. It was early last year, while I was still in New Mexico but after I had left my crazy bizarro land GMs group, and I was desperate for DMing so I was trying to teach my roommate to do it. He is a longtime player, but has very little experiance running the game.

I made a thread about it at the time, if someone wants a mre detailed recollection they could look it up.

But yeah, I was the only PC, not that it really mattered, that guy and his goons would nave TPKed a whole party more likely than not.

Basically the DM expected me to either accept his offer, in which case he would send me on a series of appropriate CR jobs, or I would refuse and he would send a series of appropriate CR mooks at me one at a time.

My logic was that if I have a high level rogue out to kill me my best odds were to attack him on my terms rather than letting him get the drop on me, as I was currently armed and armored and ne was, you lnow, a rogue.

I blame us both equally, I was too stubborn to comrpomise my character and he was too stubborn to compromise his villain. We had both put a ton of prep work into the campaign and were both really frustrated nothi g came of it.

kyoryu
2019-05-28, 09:35 AM
I remember that thread!!

Segev
2019-05-28, 09:54 AM
Ah, it being a solo game makes sense. Yeah, the advice I'd give were "save that game" still a goal would be to have both you choose to refuse, and the villain choose to laugh at any pathetic attempts your PC made to fight him.

Alternatively, the villain wasn't the villain, but was a simulacrum or other disposable patsy that your character could slaughter. Which angers the real villain and sends the CR-appropriate mooks after you.

But, as you said, inexperienced DM.

kyoryu
2019-05-28, 10:32 AM
Part of the answer here is to remember that it’s the job of the GM to inform the player of things the character would know. If the player is working off of bad assumptions, it’s up to the GM to correct them. Especially if the character is acting in a way that illustrates the assumptions.

GM: “Bad guy says you either join him or die.”
Player: “Okay, I go stabby.”
GM: “Whoa hold up. You do that you’ll definitely die. What’s up?”
Player: “There’s no way is work for him, and I figure if I lie he’ll just send our assassins to kill me with overwhelming force. Better to take my chances here.”
GM: “That’s not likely. You know his forces, and he doesn’t really have a lot of extra tough guys to send you - you figure that if you renege on his deal, he’ll probably send whatever low level goons he can spare at you, but he’s got bigger fish to fry. That said, he’ll obviously be an enemy then and there’ll be no help from him or his allies. But you doubt that he’ll waste too many valuable resources on you, unless you walk into his office.”

You can even get more explicit and out of game if you want.

Great Dragon
2019-05-28, 10:42 AM
The point is, everyone involved has a responsibility for what happens. The only people who don't have responsibility? Fictional entities such as 'Talakeal's character' or 'the DM's NPC'. They don't exist, can't make choices, and don't get to be used as excuses to hide behind when something goes wrong. That's the point.

I agree.

By both of them making a Character that "won't budge" - the event would still end like it did, or be a standoff at best.
Either way, the campaign is likely to end.

I'd just chalk it up to "Experience" and try to improve in the future.

The Glyphstone
2019-05-28, 11:05 AM
Since it definitely got lost in the noise, have you ever considered introducing a GM-less system like Fiasco or Capes to your group? If one of the biggest points of friction is the GM/player relationship, going GM-free might be a new experience you'd like better.

Morgaln
2019-05-28, 11:08 AM
No you're not - you just said it.

For the most part, I've less been "all over the map", and more been "all over the elephant", if I may coin a phrase. That is, I've been describing small parts of the same thing in different contexts, as encountered by different groups. Or small pieces of a complex thing, each easier to grasp than the whole.

When what I've said sounds like one thing rather than many, you've seen the elephant! (Assuming my sanity held, of course)

EDIT: Towards that end, allow me to repeat / rephrase a high-level overview:

Metagame like a mother****ing dolphin

On error: can I solve this myself?

Can we solve this together?

When was this not broken?

Tally error. Evaluate. What can we learn?

Character should change?

Character should retire?

Player should change?

Player should retire?

EDIT 2: if anything seems contradictory, please, bring it to my attention. I may be communicating poorly, or (heaven forbid!) I may have grown. (I hit my head too often already!)


I have found one thing that absolutely contradicts your stance as expressed in various other threads:


5b) instead, why not have the elderly couple move out of the way; ie, have the GM choose differently with these troublesome bit player NPCs, to allow the game to move forward without sacrificing the character of the more important (and generally more established) PCs? (emphasis mine)

In previous threads, you have been very adamant that GMs who change the game world in response to their players' actions are the worst kind of people imaginable, completely untrustworthy jerks who shouldn't be let anywhere near players, ever. Now you suddenly advocate that if the players clash with part of the game world, the GM should change the world to accommodate them.
Those stances are mutually exclusive; either the GM has to stick with the world as it was created, or the world is malleable and the GM may change parts at their discretion. You can't have it both ways.
Also, this might be me reading to much into it, but phrasing it as "have the GM choose differently" makes it sound like it is not the GM choosing differently but someone else (the player?) telling the GM to choose differently. If this is not what you meant and just phrased it poorly, I apologise, but if I'm interpreting this right, that is a no-go. The GM is not the players' servant or employee;they are a member of the gaming group, with equal rights, and absolutely allowed to make their own choices. Players cannot order the GM to do anything, just as the GM can't force the players to do anything.

Talakeal
2019-05-28, 11:13 AM
Since it definitely got lost in the noise, have you ever considered introducing a GM-less system like Fiasco or Capes to your group? If one of the biggest points of friction is the GM/player relationship, going GM-free might be a new experience you'd like better.

Nobody in my group, myself included, has any interest in running that style of game, we are all fairly set in our ways.

I have tried "rules light" or "story games" in the past and they have never quite scratched the itch that traditional gaming does.

Quertus
2019-05-28, 11:49 AM
I have found one thing that absolutely contradicts your stance as expressed in various other threads:

(emphasis mine)

In previous threads, you have been very adamant that GMs who change the game world in response to their players' actions are the worst kind of people imaginable, completely untrustworthy jerks who shouldn't be let anywhere near players, ever. Now you suddenly advocate that if the players clash with part of the game world, the GM should change the world to accommodate them.
Those stances are mutually exclusive; either the GM has to stick with the world as it was created, or the world is malleable and the GM may change parts at their discretion. You can't have it both ways.
Also, this might be me reading to much into it, but phrasing it as "have the GM choose differently" makes it sound like it is not the GM choosing differently but someone else (the player?) telling the GM to choose differently. If this is not what you meant and just phrased it poorly, I apologise, but if I'm interpreting this right, that is a no-go. The GM is not the players' servant or employee;they are a member of the gaming group, with equal rights, and absolutely allowed to make their own choices. Players cannot order the GM to do anything, just as the GM can't force the players to do anything.

Ah, wording. :smallamused:

"GMs who change the game world in response to their players' actions are the worst kind of people imaginable, completely untrustworthy jerks who shouldn't be let anywhere near players, ever" - lol. a bit harsh, but close enough. you'll note that my more recent versions phrase it as "game physics or facts". "Choose differently" involves changing neither of those. (EDIT - well, from a certain point of view. I guess it depends on when you consider an action to be "real". I'm accustomed to MtG interrupts, and RPG "wait, what?", So, to me, declared actions can trivially be subjected to, "are you sure?" and its ilk)

"Now you suddenly advocate that if the players clash with part of the game world, the GM should change the world to accommodate them.
Those stances are mutually exclusive; " - I can see your confusion. Note that, in my "flow chart", this occurs after "consult the group", or after "being consulted by the group". So, this is not "the GM" changing anything - this is "the group" changing things. Subtle difference. The stances are compatible. (That said, I'll agree, it rubs me the wrong way to have to do so, but I've seen other GMs handle it smoothly, so I know that it can be the right thing for the group to do. Thus its inclusion in my toolkit / flowchart / whatever. Also, I don't… do extemporaneous well (contrary to my players' beliefs), so it's easier for me to "choose differently" or retcon or "choose differently with another playing piece" than to mold a piece on the fly.)

"makes it sound like it is not the GM choosing differently but someone else (the player?) telling the GM to choose differently. If this is not what you meant and just phrased it poorly, I apologise" - no apology necessary. It's… complicated. I was trying to say several things together. So, let's say I'm just *watching* Talakeal's game, and I realize that the GM's / Talakeal's actions will lead to disaster. I interject, explain the snafu, and nudge them to "choose differently". Only the player can choose what valid moves are for their pieces, but *anyone* can point out that something is not a valid move for fun (see shopkeeps banning R- and X-rated comments in games run in their stores, even if they aren't playing). So, it's less domination and more informative: "the house is on fire". It's a problem with the "choose differently" nomenclature, I'll grant that, that it is worded as an imperative. (EDIT: also, mixed in there is me *telling* the Playground that "choose differently" can and should applied to the GM at least as much as (and probably moreso than) to the players. For some people, this difference in prioritizing the GM to "choose differently" would be because the PCs are more established; for others, it is because the PCs are more important. Shrug.)

"Players cannot order the GM to do anything, just as the GM can't force the players to do anything." - if you have to be *forced* to care about and act to preserve the fun of others…

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Does it seem consistent now? Or is further clarification required?

Morgaln
2019-05-28, 01:11 PM
Ah, wording. :smallamused:

"GMs who change the game world in response to their players' actions are the worst kind of people imaginable, completely untrustworthy jerks who shouldn't be let anywhere near players, ever" - lol. a bit harsh, but close enough. you'll note that my more recent versions phrase it as "game physics or facts". "Choose differently" involves changing neither of those. (EDIT - well, from a certain point of view. I guess it depends on when you consider an action to be "real". I'm accustomed to MtG interrupts, and RPG "wait, what?", So, to me, declared actions can trivially be subjected to, "are you sure?" and its ilk)



I fully admit the hyperbole here was all mine :smalltongue:



"Now you suddenly advocate that if the players clash with part of the game world, the GM should change the world to accommodate them.
Those stances are mutually exclusive; " - I can see your confusion. Note that, in my "flow chart", this occurs after "consult the group", or after "being consulted by the group". So, this is not "the GM" changing anything - this is "the group" changing things. Subtle difference. The stances are compatible. (That said, I'll agree, it rubs me the wrong way to have to do so, but I've seen other GMs handle it smoothly, so I know that it can be the right thing for the group to do. Thus its inclusion in my toolkit / flowchart / whatever. Also, I don't… do extemporaneous well (contrary to my players' beliefs), so it's easier for me to "choose differently" or retcon or "choose differently with another playing piece" than to mold a piece on the fly.)

"makes it sound like it is not the GM choosing differently but someone else (the player?) telling the GM to choose differently. If this is not what you meant and just phrased it poorly, I apologise" - no apology necessary. It's… complicated. I was trying to say several things together. So, let's say I'm just *watching* Talakeal's game, and I realize that the GM's / Talakeal's actions will lead to disaster. I interject, explain the snafu, and nudge them to "choose differently". Only the player can choose what valid moves are for their pieces, but *anyone* can point out that something is not a valid move for fun (see shopkeeps banning R- and X-rated comments in games run in their stores, even if they aren't playing). So, it's less domination and more informative: "the house is on fire". It's a problem with the "choose differently" nomenclature, I'll grant that, that is worded as an imperative.

"Players cannot order the GM to do anything, just as the GM can't force the players to do anything." - if you have to be *forced* to care about and act to preserve the fun of others…

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Does it seem consistent now? Or is further clarification required?

That does seem consistent now, thanks for clarifying.


You also said that it is preferable to change the NPC's behavior over the PC, since the PC is likely to be fleshed out far better than the NPC. (Paraphrasing from memory, since I can't find the exact quote right now, correct me if I misunderstood you please.). I agree with that in general. But out of curiousity, let's assume a theoretical situation where the NPC is a recurring character, maybe even a recurring character from several campaigns that is well known to the players (but not necessarily to the characters). Would you still consider it okay to change the behaviour of that NPC to something that the players know is incongruous with their previous behavior, for the sake of one player's actions?

Quertus
2019-05-28, 02:32 PM
That does seem consistent now, thanks for clarifying.


You also said that it is preferable to change the NPC's behavior over the PC, since the PC is likely to be fleshed out far better than the NPC. (Paraphrasing from memory, since I can't find the exact quote right now, correct me if I misunderstood you please.). I agree with that in general. But out of curiousity, let's assume a theoretical situation where the NPC is a recurring character, maybe even a recurring character from several campaigns that is well known to the players (but not necessarily to the characters). Would you still consider it okay to change the behaviour of that NPC to something that the players know is incongruous with their previous behavior, for the sake of one player's actions?

No problem.

For the record, the list of reasons to prioritize having NPCs "choose differently" is neither mine, not exhaustive.

That out of the way, I would risk assuming that those who weigh it based exclusively on how "established" a character is might well give an established NPC equal weight to an established PC, and treat them equally.

Now, as I've said in describing my own stance, I fall into category 2 - look for alternatives that are in character. I don't expect me to (knowingly) pick options that are out of character.

Hmmm… you have made me see what is probably an actual inconsistency in my stance. Or, rather, in true Smallville style*, forced me to weigh my convictions against one another.

So, there are times - especially at a time skip! - where you've got some wibbly wobbly wiggle room. So, if I bring Quertus to a new world, there's a little wibbly wobbly between "the last time I played him" and "when the adventure starts". To facilitate fun, I'm willing to be flexible with how we fill that in. Or, alternately, I'm a needy **** about wanting that filled in with something that will get the party together. "So, I met your character on the road into town, and you offered Quertus lodging? Works for me. Magic is outlawed? ****. Do we want this drama? We don't? OK. Would your character have mentioned it? What about if Quertus did magic - would your character have turned him in, or could Quertus have learned about this that way?"

That's fairly normal, I suppose. Where you've let me see that my convictions oppose one another, in a way related to the above, is with this NPC question. And it's complicated.

So, if this NPC has been "out of circulation" for a while, and (somehow unexpectedly) their (known) personality causes problems at the table? I can actually see me checking if they couldn't have had a life-changing event between their last appearance and now. And then evaluating how much more or less fun I think that this change might make them for the group (where the act of them changing - off camera no less! - is itself likely to add to or detract from the group's enjoyment).

So, if push came to shove, there are ways I might sacrifice "pregenerated data purity" for "fun".

Huh.

So, I guess my hierarchy** is role-playing / physics, fun, facts? Because any fun that violates role-playing or physics (which I cannot find a way to put in opposition to one another) isn't worth having (in an RPG context). Whereas my senility makes me less partial to facts? Maybe. Don't hold me to any of this, I'm still working through it all.

For those who believe that "fun" is primary - what if someone wanted to ignore turns, or how chess pieces moved? What if they told you that "fun" should take priority over such silly things, and they should be allowed to add checkers and bits of string to your chess game, and move them whenever and however they want?

At what point do you say, "that may be fun, but Chess clearly isn't the game we are or should be playing"?

Note: as a rule, when I ask something as a question, it's a question. I myself have several answers, based on my knowledge of child psychology, my experiences in numerous games, and my own stance on RPGs.

Much like with how I hold that the ends justify the means, but only if you realize that the means are part of the ends, I hold that, while fun may be the goal, there are things that are still required for the fun, that take priority over making more fun, because they come at too high of a cost. Or something.

* I can only assume, having never (knowingly) played the game
** I feel like I'm building a VtM "hierarchy of sins" for a new "roleplayer" clan

Earthwalker
2019-05-29, 03:31 AM
Every person gets to choose how much they roleplay, and what they enjoy.

If I enjoy rolling dice, that is independent of whether you enjoy rolling dice.

No one (but you?) is talking about overriding the fun of the group. *I* am talking about maximizing and safeguarding the fun of the group.

I'm honestly not sure where your disconnect is.

I owe you an apology, I have re-read how I posted my comments and it was coming off very much as an attack on you and that was not my intent.

I was trying to get where you are coming from and I do have a much better idea now.

Once again confirming I really couldn't run a game you would be happy with, but that's all good. We all have different tastes.

Morgaln
2019-05-29, 05:57 AM
No problem.

For the record, the list of reasons to prioritize having NPCs "choose differently" is neither mine, not exhaustive.

That out of the way, I would risk assuming that those who weigh it based exclusively on how "established" a character is might well give an established NPC equal weight to an established PC, and treat them equally.

Now, as I've said in describing my own stance, I fall into category 2 - look for alternatives that are in character. I don't expect me to (knowingly) pick options that are out of character.

Hmmm… you have made me see what is probably an actual inconsistency in my stance. Or, rather, in true Smallville style*, forced me to weigh my convictions against one another.

So, there are times - especially at a time skip! - where you've got some wibbly wobbly wiggle room. So, if I bring Quertus to a new world, there's a little wibbly wobbly between "the last time I played him" and "when the adventure starts". To facilitate fun, I'm willing to be flexible with how we fill that in. Or, alternately, I'm a needy **** about wanting that filled in with something that will get the party together. "So, I met your character on the road into town, and you offered Quertus lodging? Works for me. Magic is outlawed? ****. Do we want this drama? We don't? OK. Would your character have mentioned it? What about if Quertus did magic - would your character have turned him in, or could Quertus have learned about this that way?"

That's fairly normal, I suppose. Where you've let me see that my convictions oppose one another, in a way related to the above, is with this NPC question. And it's complicated.

So, if this NPC has been "out of circulation" for a while, and (somehow unexpectedly) their (known) personality causes problems at the table? I can actually see me checking if they couldn't have had a life-changing event between their last appearance and now. And then evaluating how much more or less fun I think that this change might make them for the group (where the act of them changing - off camera no less! - is itself likely to add to or detract from the group's enjoyment).

So, if push came to shove, there are ways I might sacrifice "pregenerated data purity" for "fun".

Huh.

So, I guess my hierarchy** is role-playing / physics, fun, facts? Because any fun that violates role-playing or physics (which I cannot find a way to put in opposition to one another) isn't worth having (in an RPG context). Whereas my senility makes me less partial to facts? Maybe. Don't hold me to any of this, I'm still working through it all.

For those who believe that "fun" is primary - what if someone wanted to ignore turns, or how chess pieces moved? What if they told you that "fun" should take priority over such silly things, and they should be allowed to add checkers and bits of string to your chess game, and move them whenever and however they want?

At what point do you say, "that may be fun, but Chess clearly isn't the game we are or should be playing"?

Note: as a rule, when I ask something as a question, it's a question. I myself have several answers, based on my knowledge of child psychology, my experiences in numerous games, and my own stance on RPGs.

Much like with how I hold that the ends justify the means, but only if you realize that the means are part of the ends, I hold that, while fun may be the goal, there are things that are still required for the fun, that take priority over making more fun, because they come at too high of a cost. Or something.

* I can only assume, having never (knowingly) played the game
** I feel like I'm building a VtM "hierarchy of sins" for a new "roleplayer" clan

Can you actually separate roleplaying/physics from fun? Or would you rather say that violating roleplaying/physics destroys your fun? Semantics, I know, but might be relevant for the discussion.
In general, I'd say that if a game isn't fun, it's not worth playing. That's also what I tell my players; don't be afraid to tell me that you don't want to play on a particular day or a particular group. If you don't want to, it's not worth forcing yourself. It's a hobby, not a chore. That doesn't mean you can just throw rules overboard, because playing within the rules is part of what is fun for me. As such, I wouldn't allow anyone to move a chess piece illegally even once.

However, chess is a different kind of beast than RPG; it is competitive and it is a game that is intentionally symmetrical. But even in an assymetrical competitive or cooperative board game, there are rules that make sure the game is balanced in a certain way (how well it is balanced depends on the game in question). Staying within those rules, again, is part of the fun. Sure, I can go and make up rules for Arkham Horror that will make it easier for me to win; but then I can just declare myself the winner right from the start and do something else with my time.

But RPGs are different. In an RPG there is an expectation that one side will hold back by design. The GM will always hold the power to just delete the PCs off the board with overwhelming forces that they have no hope of competing against. And most RPGs have no rule that says the GM is not allowed to do that. But then, that's no fun for the players; not for me as a GM, either, but there are probably (terrible) GMs out there that would get enjoyment out of doing that. So there are parts of an RPG that go above and beyond the rules. One reason for that is that a RPG doesn't have a win condition; there isn't a defined end point that the people involved work towards by default. As such, winning isn't the goal, or at least not the only possible one; there have to be other goals, and everyone has to decide on their personal goal for themselves. Clashes happen when two or more people involved have incompatible goals. If the GM's goal is to explore political intrigue while the players goal is to measure their optimization skills against whatever the Monster Manual has to offer, neither side will be happy. If the players want to explore the psyche of their characters while the GM wants to do a dungeon crawler, no one will get the experience they are looking for. If one player wants to have intra-party comflict while the others want to be harmonious, there will be OOC conflict.

That's where fun again comes into it. Fun is not one of the factors that makes up a game; fun is the ultimate goal of the game; it even transcends winning in a competitive game, for I can lose a game and still have fun, or reversely win a game but have no fun doing so. And all those factors, like rules, physics, facts, even controversial topics like illusionism, railroading, fudging and so on should be measured by whether they contribute to or detract from the fun. And if there's one point that we all should agree on it is that the answer to that is not the same for every one of us, and that answering this differently doesn't make anyone a better or worse person at RPG, just a possibly incompatible one.

Interestingly, this is similar to the M:tG theory of various player archetypes (Johnny/Timmy/Spike), who all have different reasons for playing and want different things from it. It's just much more pronounced and diverse in RPGs, because those provide a far broader spectrum of possible experiences and ways to play.

Quertus
2019-05-29, 11:19 PM
Continuing our probably mostly off-topic conversation…


Can you actually separate roleplaying/physics from fun? Or would you rather say that violating roleplaying/physics destroys your fun? Semantics, I know, but might be relevant for the discussion.

Oh, even more semantics - by "fun", I *probably* mean "maximizing the fun had by the group". No guarantees that I consistently use or used it that way. Or even ever use it accurately that way.


In general, I'd say that if a game isn't fun, it's not worth playing.

Agreed. To continue the above, an RPG without role-playing is… too suboptimal, and should be replaced with a more optimized experience.

Thus, as I said before, in the all but incomprehensible event that I were in an RPG where I couldn't roleplay / where my role-playing (not just of one particular character, but role-playing in general) was a detriment to the group's fun, I would simply not play RPGs with that group.

Now, as to my own fun, I can play a war game with no role-playing, and have fun. But my RPG fun mandates (me) role-playing, and (the GM) following physics, the rules, etc. Technically, if another *player* cheats, it doesn't completely kill the fun, and I'll just assume that it probably increases their fun more than it is a detriment to mine.


That's also what I tell my players; don't be afraid to tell me that you don't want to play on a particular day or a particular group. If you don't want to, it's not worth forcing yourself. It's a hobby, not a chore.




That doesn't mean you can just throw rules overboard, because playing within the rules is part of what is fun for me. As such, I wouldn't allow anyone to move a chess piece illegally even once.

See above. I agree for GM, but shrug when other players feel the need to make illegal moves.


However, chess is a different kind of beast than RPG; it is competitive and it is a game that is intentionally symmetrical. But even in an assymetrical competitive or cooperative board game, there are rules that make sure the game is balanced in a certain way (how well it is balanced depends on the game in question). Staying within those rules, again, is part of the fun. Sure, I can go and make up rules for Arkham Horror that will make it easier for me to win; but then I can just declare myself the winner right from the start and do something else with my time.





But RPGs are different. In an RPG there is an expectation that one side will hold back by design. The GM will always hold the power to just delete the PCs off the board with overwhelming forces that they have no hope of competing against. And most RPGs have no rule that says the GM is not allowed to do that. But then, that's no fun for the players; not for me as a GM, either, but there are probably (terrible) GMs out there that would get enjoyment out of doing that. So there are parts of an RPG that go above and beyond the rules. One reason for that is that a RPG doesn't have a win condition; there isn't a defined end point that the people involved work towards by default. As such, winning isn't the goal, or at least not the only possible one; there have to be other goals, and everyone has to decide on their personal goal for themselves. Clashes happen when two or more people involved have incompatible goals.



If the GM's goal is to explore political intrigue while the players goal is to measure their optimization skills against whatever the Monster Manual has to offer, neither side will be happy.

Eh, it's no more incompatible than "me having the spotlight" and "you having the spotlight". That is, it's simply a matter of the group's ability to blend these competing needs. IME, it's actually easier to "share" the spotlight when the players are after different things. It's like an orchestra, where different instruments are playing different parts of the song. Done right, I find it much richer than a simple melody.


If the players want to explore the psyche of their characters while the GM wants to do a dungeon crawler, no one will get the experience they are looking for.

Absolutely disagree, from experience.


If one player wants to have intra-party comflict while the others want to be harmonious, there will be OOC conflict.

Well, yes. That's one I cannot combine.


That's where fun again comes into it. Fun is not one of the factors that makes up a game; fun is the ultimate goal of the game; it even transcends winning in a competitive game, for I can lose a game and still have fun, or reversely win a game but have no fun doing so.

Yup, totally agree. From experience. Ennui wins MtG, but Cosmic Larva is bloody fun.


And all those factors, like rules, physics, facts, even controversial topics like illusionism, railroading, fudging and so on should be measured by whether they contribute to or detract from the fun. And if there's one point that we all should agree on it is that the answer to that is not the same for every one of us, and that answering this differently doesn't make anyone a better or worse person at RPG, just a possibly incompatible one.

Mostly agree. There's also some morality questions involved.


Interestingly, this is similar to the M:tG theory of various player archetypes (Johnny/Timmy/Spike), who all have different reasons for playing and want different things from it. It's just much more pronounced and diverse in RPGs, because those provide a far broader spectrum of possible experiences and ways to play.

Which one wants pretty pictures again?

Building decks for others, I've learned that MtG is also quite vast in its spectrum of likes. I'm… still working on finding vocabulary to describe the "experience" several people were after.

Talakeal
2019-05-30, 07:42 PM
So I have been thinking a lot about the topic this last week.

Firstly, to those of you who say I should just play the game without Legendary Actions (or whatever other things they bitch about); that could work, but I don't really think so. My prediction is they will just find something else to whine about, and I will have hurt the narrative credulity of my campaign world in the process.

To those who are saying I should just make the campaign easier and always let the PCs get their way, I have a theory about that. I think that people are much better at knowing they are upset when things are too hard than when they are too easy. Currently they are frustrated, but they don't know why and are looking for scapegoats. If I make the game too easy I think it will just be them not having fun because they are bored, but not knowing why and not being able to articulate it, if that makes sense?


Ok, so I really think my players are just kind of whiny. I don't think my campaign actually is that hard; my current game has ben running for just over a year now and the party has had one TPK (brought on by an unlucky random encounter roll) and two close calls. They have not "failed" a single mission that they set out to accomplish, although they have let a few opportunities escape them by playing overly cautiously. Going back through my records of previous campaigns, significantly less than 10% of all adventures end in defeat, and in those cases its almost always the PCs coming up with a crazy scheme that backfired and caused negative consequences like hostages being killed rather than traditional loss because of high difficulty / poor dice roles / poor planning.

One of my players likes to create min/maxed characters that go all offense, and anytime his offense doesn't work or something dares to attack him, he whines up a storm and finds whatever excuse he can. A few months ago it was "railroading" for giving a monster a breath attack, one really egregious example from a few years ago involved him being unable to teleport away from an evil demigod who had "space" as his portfolio and he went on a rant about how I was "punishing him for not caring about the stupid lore of my world", and just last session he was bitching about how large monsters who grapple are unfair to mages because when he puts a six in strength and dex he has no chance of resisting their grapple without a nat 20.

My other player, the one who bitches about legendary actions, and lair actions, and size categories, always bitches when he feels the rules are "asymmetrical". Like when I ran the "Complex of Zombies" and he was playing a vampire, and he bitched up a storm that the zombies had a life leech aura that functioned "better" than his health draining ability, and it was just unfair because all undead life-stealers should follow the same rules, or how in my Heart of Darkness campaign NPCs receive half health, yet don't receive half healing meaning that the same healing effect does a higher percentage of their life.


Also, on a related anecdote; a few months ago one of my players mentioned that he always finishes the adventure without any spell slots left and that most of the party is fairly wounded. I think he was trying to tell me that I needed to town it down, but that is exactly the level of difficulty I am aiming for, so that the PCs always win by the skin of their teeth, and I responded with "Huh. I guess I must be doing a really good job of balancing the encounters then," not really knowing what to say, and he took it that I was dismissing his concerns / making fun of him and has grumbled about it several times since.

Koo Rehtorb
2019-05-30, 07:46 PM
Play with better people.

The Glyphstone
2019-05-31, 12:53 AM
Ok, so I really think my players are just kind of whiny.

Isn't that what we've been trying to tell you for the better part of a year now, if not longer?:smallconfused:


Play with better people.

The sad thing is that this is what counts as 'better people' for Talakeal. If you don't recall, his earliest threads were truly the gaming groups from hell.

OldTrees1
2019-05-31, 01:35 AM
Also, on a related anecdote; a few months ago one of my players mentioned that he always finishes the adventure without any spell slots left and that most of the party is fairly wounded. I think he was trying to tell me that I needed to town it down, but that is exactly the level of difficulty I am aiming for, so that the PCs always win by the skin of their teeth, and I responded with "Huh. I guess I must be doing a really good job of balancing the encounters then," not really knowing what to say, and he took it that I was dismissing his concerns / making fun of him and has grumbled about it several times since.

Talakeal, I think you missed something fundamental here.

A player cited for you details of the difficulty of the current state of the game. You think the player was stating that the current state of the game was more difficult than their preference. You replied that those details matched the difficulty you aimed for. Unspoken you said that the player's differing preference has no relevance to what difficulty you aim for. The player took that as dismissing their concerns / making fun of them and has been unsatisfied by that DM behavior every since.

I think it goes without saying that the preferences of each member of the group matter. However I don't think your player knows whether you know that or not. You left the player with the impression that the only balance preference that matters was your own.

Satinavian
2019-05-31, 02:18 AM
Talakeal, I think you missed something fundamental here.

A player cited for you details of the difficulty of the current state of the game. You think the player was stating that the current state of the game was more difficult than their preference. You replied that those details matched the difficulty you aimed for. Unspoken you said that the player's differing preference has no relevance to what difficulty you aim for. The player took that as dismissing their concerns / making fun of them and has been unsatisfied by that DM behavior every since.

I think it goes without saying that the preferences of each member of the group matter. However I don't think your player knows whether you know that or not. You left the player with the impression that the only balance preference that matters was your own.
Yes, that is something that i already mentioned a couple of times. But Talakeal usually ignores it.

kyoryu
2019-05-31, 09:32 AM
Yes, that is something that i already mentioned a couple of times. But Talakeal usually ignores it.

It’s always good to take what people say in good faith, and not from a stance of “I am correct and will show you why you’re wrong.”

If people are upset, they’re upset. Listening to that is critical.

Talakeal
2019-05-31, 10:37 AM
I have a question for people.

Earlier we were talking about PCs acting differently based on the needs of the game.

Do you think it is bad for DM's to do the same? Because I have said that when designing an adventure I try and keep the relevant NPCs as close to the PCs level as is plausible without breaking the setting, and that I tend to play my NPCs "smarter" if the PCs are doing well and "dumber" if the PCs are struggling, although obviously within the bounds of what is reasonable for their character.

Anytime I have tried to explain this to one of my PCs they have reacted with horror at the notion. Thoughts?



Isn't that what we've been trying to tell you for the better part of a year now, if not longer?:smallconfused:

The sad thing is that this is what counts as 'better people' for Talakeal. If you don't recall, his earliest threads were truly the gaming groups from hell.

Yeah, this group is actually pretty good. I just have two players who like to complain and bicker a lot. But that is absolutely nothing compared to groups I have been in in the past, where threats of physical violence spiraling out of inconsequential game issues were not terribly uncommon.


Talakeal, I think you missed something fundamental here.

A player cited for you details of the difficulty of the current state of the game. You think the player was stating that the current state of the game was more difficult than their preference. You replied that those details matched the difficulty you aimed for. Unspoken you said that the player's differing preference has no relevance to what difficulty you aim for. The player took that as dismissing their concerns / making fun of them and has been unsatisfied by that DM behavior every since.

I think it goes without saying that the preferences of each member of the group matter. However I don't think your player knows whether you know that or not. You left the player with the impression that the only balance preference that matters was your own.


Yes, that is something that i already mentioned a couple of times. But Talakeal usually ignores it.

Maybe the reason that I am ignoring it is that I am not seeing whatever it is that I am not seeing.

From my perspective the player feels the game is too hard, presented evidence, I said that his evidence showed that the difficulty was not too hard but rather where I had intended it, and he took that as me dismissing his opinions.

Basically, I am already running the game as "easy mode" as I can without breaking it. The players almost never fail, and if I make it any easier I am going to have a run-away Monty Haul effect where the players resources start to spiral out of control exponentially as they are going to be able to take out foes (and gain rewards) far above their level which will result in being even more OP. And I am speaking from experience here. And it is really hard to run such a campaign as anything but an over the top power fantasy and, imo, most of the players didn't sign up for that, and even the one player who did would probably get bored pretty quickly.

Note that the opposite can also be true if the game is too hard.

MrSandman
2019-05-31, 10:59 AM
I have a question for people.

Earlier we were talking about PCs acting differently based on the needs of the game.

Do you think it is bad for DM's to do the same? Because I have said that when designing an adventure I try and keep the relevant NPCs as close to the PCs level as is plausible without breaking the setting, and that I tend to play my NPCs "smarter" if the PCs are doing well and "dumber" if the PCs are struggling, although obviously within the bounds of what is reasonable for their character.

Anytime I have tried to explain this to one of my PCs they have reacted with horror at the notion. Thoughts?


Did they say where their horror came from?




Maybe the reason that I am ignoring it is that I am not seeing whatever it is that I am not seeing.

From my perspective the player feels the game is too hard, presented evidence, I said that his evidence showed that the difficulty was not too hard but rather where I had intended it, and he took that as me dismissing his opinions.

Basically, I am already running the game as "easy mode" as I can without breaking it. The players almost never fail, and if I make it any easier I am going to have a run-away Monty Haul effect where the players resources start to spiral out of control exponentially as they are going to be able to take out foes (and gain rewards) far above their level which will result in being even more OP. And I am speaking from experience here. And it is really hard to run such a campaign as anything but an over the top power fantasy and, imo, most of the players didn't sign up for that, and even the one player who did would probably get bored pretty quickly.

Note that the opposite can also be true if the game is too hard.

The bolded part is pretty much the issue. It seems that you're only taking in your own preferences for the game's difficulty. The difficulty may be exactly where you intend it to be, but the thing is that this players seems to think that where you want the difficulty to be is too difficult.

Maybe instead of just saying that that's exactly how difficult you want it to be, you could ask "so how difficult would you like it to be?" And have a conversation about it. It may well be that they're okay with hard encounters for BBEGs and such but would prefer an easier time with less prominent antagonists.

Talakeal
2019-05-31, 11:06 AM
Did they say where their horror came from?

Basically that doing so is meta-gaming and therefore cheating.

Morgaln
2019-05-31, 11:32 AM
So I have been thinking a lot about the topic this last week.

Firstly, to those of you who say I should just play the game without Legendary Actions (or whatever other things they bitch about); that could work, but I don't really think so. My prediction is they will just find something else to whine about, and I will have hurt the narrative credulity of my campaign world in the process.

To those who are saying I should just make the campaign easier and always let the PCs get their way, I have a theory about that. I think that people are much better at knowing they are upset when things are too hard than when they are too easy. Currently they are frustrated, but they don't know why and are looking for scapegoats. If I make the game too easy I think it will just be them not having fun because they are bored, but not knowing why and not being able to articulate it, if that makes sense?


Ok, so I really think my players are just kind of whiny. I don't think my campaign actually is that hard; my current game has ben running for just over a year now and the party has had one TPK (brought on by an unlucky random encounter roll) and two close calls. They have not "failed" a single mission that they set out to accomplish, although they have let a few opportunities escape them by playing overly cautiously. Going back through my records of previous campaigns, significantly less than 10% of all adventures end in defeat, and in those cases its almost always the PCs coming up with a crazy scheme that backfired and caused negative consequences like hostages being killed rather than traditional loss because of high difficulty / poor dice roles / poor planning.

One of my players likes to create min/maxed characters that go all offense, and anytime his offense doesn't work or something dares to attack him, he whines up a storm and finds whatever excuse he can. A few months ago it was "railroading" for giving a monster a breath attack, one really egregious example from a few years ago involved him being unable to teleport away from an evil demigod who had "space" as his portfolio and he went on a rant about how I was "punishing him for not caring about the stupid lore of my world", and just last session he was bitching about how large monsters who grapple are unfair to mages because when he puts a six in strength and dex he has no chance of resisting their grapple without a nat 20.

My other player, the one who bitches about legendary actions, and lair actions, and size categories, always bitches when he feels the rules are "asymmetrical". Like when I ran the "Complex of Zombies" and he was playing a vampire, and he bitched up a storm that the zombies had a life leech aura that functioned "better" than his health draining ability, and it was just unfair because all undead life-stealers should follow the same rules, or how in my Heart of Darkness campaign NPCs receive half health, yet don't receive half healing meaning that the same healing effect does a higher percentage of their life.


Also, on a related anecdote; a few months ago one of my players mentioned that he always finishes the adventure without any spell slots left and that most of the party is fairly wounded. I think he was trying to tell me that I needed to town it down, but that is exactly the level of difficulty I am aiming for, so that the PCs always win by the skin of their teeth, and I responded with "Huh. I guess I must be doing a really good job of balancing the encounters then," not really knowing what to say, and he took it that I was dismissing his concerns / making fun of him and has grumbled about it several times since.

About the player who complains about "asymmetrical" rules; have you ever explained to him what it would truly mean to have symmetrical rules? As an example, do you allow players to roll social stats (Charisma, bluff, and the like) to convince NPCs of something? Now propose to that player that NPC's should be allowed to do the same: roll Charisma to convince his character to do something, and his character would then be forced to do whatever the NPC suggested, assuming the roll succeeded. If the player balks at the idea (as he rightfully should), you can tell him that if he's not willing to give up the advantages of asymmetrical rules, he has no right to demand the removal of disadvantages.

Talakeal
2019-05-31, 11:34 AM
About the player who complains about "asymmetrical" rules; have you ever explained to him what it would truly mean to have symmetrical rules? As an example, do you allow players to roll social stats (Charisma, bluff, and the like) to convince NPCs of something? Now propose to that player that NPC's should be allowed to do the same: roll Charisma to convince his character to do something, and his character would then be forced to do whatever the NPC suggested, assuming the roll succeeded. If the player balks at the idea (as he rightfully should), you can tell him that if he's not willing to give up the advantages of asymmetrical rules, he has no right to demand the removal of disadvantages.

Actually, that is one area where I DO use symmetrical rules.

I let the controlling player (the DM in the case of NPCs) set the difficulty of all social rolls used against their character.


Edit: Not that I don't totally agree with the overall point of your post, I am just commenting on that one example.

Great Dragon
2019-05-31, 12:33 PM
I have a question for people.

Earlier we were talking about PCs acting differently based on the needs of the game.

Do you think it is bad for DM's to do the same?
Because I have said that when designing an adventure I try and keep the relevant NPCs as close to the PCs level as is plausible without breaking the setting, and that I tend to play my NPCs "smarter" if the PCs are doing well and "dumber" if the PCs are struggling, although obviously within the bounds of what is reasonable for their character.

For my answer, it's "No".

I think I understand, since I try to run a "Living World", where there are things (NPCs and Monsters) already in place, that have "pre-determined" attitudes/behavior.

I won't change what is in the Area/Region.

(Adult Dragon in "Favorite Terrain"; Beholder in Temple Ruins; Giant/s in stronghold, etc)

But, I will "adjust" what Creatures (ie: Wyrmling Dragon) and/or resources that are available, or change their behavior (within reason) to match the Tier (so, maybe the 3rd Level Party does meet the Adult Dragon, but it thinks they are amusing) as well as the Players and their Style/s.


Anytime I have tried to explain this to one of my PCs they have reacted with horror at the notion. Thoughts?

Yeah, my "no Legendary Actions" suggestion was meant to maybe show your Player/s that without them, the game would be "too easy" and become boring.

But, your note saying that they would just find something else to complain about, shot that down.

Sometimes you just can't win.


**Edit**

I let the controlling player (the DM in the case of NPCs) set the difficulty of all social rolls used against their character.

That really didn't work for me.
Most times I'll just do the normal "opposed Roll".
Deception or Persuasion versus Insight.

But sometimes to speed things;
I will let them choose either:
Roll Deception or Persuasion verses the Target's Insight + 10

Or
the 3x "passive" rules:
Roll Deception or Persuasion versus DC 10 + HD/Lv + Wis.

Whichever is chosen applies to all sides.
This makes it more "fair" since the Player can't suddenly say that the DC to "convince" or "trick" them is (suddenly) much higher. (Or argue that them doing those should be easier - if they rolled low)

Morgaln
2019-05-31, 12:39 PM
Actually, that is one area where I DO use symmetrical rules.

I let the controlling player (the DM in the case of NPCs) set the difficulty of all social rolls used against their character.


Edit: Not that I don't totally agree with the overall point of your post, I am just commenting on that one example.

That is interesting; I've never met anyone doing that. I guess your players are not complaining about that (or do they?) because being allowed to set the difficulty gives them a certain control over the situation. Now I'm tempted to try that in a group once just to see how works in practice.

Segev
2019-05-31, 01:23 PM
"Choose differently" isn't about mechanics, or even about playing dumb. It's about figuring out a valid excuse OOC for the IC actions you need to happen to keep the game running to be performed. It doesn't always work, but it works far more often than those who cling too tightly to "it's what my guy would do" tend to think.

GrayDeath
2019-05-31, 01:23 PM
I have a question for people.

Earlier we were talking about PCs acting differently based on the needs of the game.

Do you think it is bad for DM's to do the same? Because I have said that when designing an adventure I try and keep the relevant NPCs as close to the PCs level as is plausible without breaking the setting, and that I tend to play my NPCs "smarter" if the PCs are doing well and "dumber" if the PCs are struggling, although obviously within the bounds of what is reasonable for their character.

Anytime I have tried to explain this to one of my PCs they have reacted with horror at the notion. Thoughts?



That can be taken in a few ways. Assuming I udnerstand you correctly and you are talking about more than simply adjusting CR if you feel they fail too often/steamroll your encounters, which is normal, then yes, this is bad.

Why? because if it goes further you are actually punishing your players for acting smart/being succesful. Where you should be doing the opposite.

This seems to fall into the same vein as increasing DC`s for actions high level palyer CHaracters do to keep it interesting" or "not ahve them auto succeed" (the epitomal CLimb check that suddenly went from a 12 for a level 1 Character to a 25 for a level 8 for example).

Now, I dont know your palyers personally, so what I am going by are your posts and the only argumentative/whiny player I have had longer than 2 sessions, so please take it as wanting to help:

You should never "adjust" the World to the Players more than the world logically would do itself, especially if youa re running anything remotely sandboxy.

Why? Because people enjoying sandboxy play also usually enjoy Versimilitude.

Lets say your Level 5 party breezed through a Troll Encounter easily. After that, their next enemies (random or planned9 should in no way ever change to more difficult ones because of that. Or the raiding orcs suddenly acting like Ghengis Khan was leading them.
Or a BLack Dragon appearing "just to make it harder"....etc.

Now, if after they continue destroying Trolls easily, a few weeks later, a large band of Trolls led by a Hag decide to go on the offensive against them, thats internally consistent and "realistic".


Edit: I would not call it cheating, but yes, it is metagaming, and a type of metagaming that is done against the palyers and has no even remotely positive effect I can think of unless your group sucks balls as hard as Spaceballs Space Sucker ^^






Maybe the reason that I am ignoring it is that I am not seeing whatever it is that I am not seeing.

From my perspective the player feels the game is too hard, presented evidence, I said that his evidence showed that the difficulty was not too hard but rather where I had intended it, and he took that as me dismissing his opinions.

Basically, I am already running the game as "easy mode" as I can without breaking it. The players almost never fail, and if I make it any easier I am going to have a run-away Monty Haul effect where the players resources start to spiral out of control exponentially as they are going to be able to take out foes (and gain rewards) far above their level which will result in being even more OP. And I am speaking from experience here. And it is really hard to run such a campaign as anything but an over the top power fantasy and, imo, most of the players didn't sign up for that, and even the one player who did would probably get bored pretty quickly.

Note that the opposite can also be true if the game is too hard.


Now I am the last GM who would advocate to design the whole Campaign "just as the Players would do it themselves", as Iw ant to ahve fun as well, and the main pull on DMing for me is to be able to let others play in my world.

THat said, a Palyer said that he thought your Game was too hard.

You said "I dont care, I think it fits" and went on doing it that way.

And you dont see the problem there?

Let me suggest improving your Communication as well, because, as I tend to say in all my games, Communication is EVERYTHING.
If y player comes up to you as DM and posts valid Feedback of ANY kind, you listen, you remember, and you act accordingly.

One of the main things that has nothing to do with DM preference being more impoertant is Difficulty.
Unless your palyers signed up for "hard Mode, no take backs" and like it, ALWAYS listen if they have valid feedback about difficulty.
Even if you dont see your description as difficult, thats only your opinion. For me, outside hardcore D&D ANYTHING with a TPK thats not caused by sheer stupidity is out of the ordinary, and every death matters.

Again, unless youa re running Rappan Athuk or similar stuff, or all your palyers are new and or etc...^^

(Disclaimer: WHining alà "but I wanted that sword" or Why cant my Wizard grapple better than the barb?" or "But I should be able to fly because...." is something altogheter different ^^).

Quertus
2019-05-31, 06:03 PM
So, there's a lot going on here. I've tried to pull out what I hope are some of the more important bits.


Maybe the reason that I am ignoring it is that I am not seeing whatever it is that I am not seeing.

If you learn nothing else, learn this simple life lesson: if you are in a situation where you do not see what's wrong, that is when it is the *most* important for you to be creating a dialog.


Also, on a related anecdote; a few months ago one of my players mentioned that he always finishes the adventure without any spell slots left and that most of the party is fairly wounded. I think he was trying to tell me that I needed to town it down, but that is exactly the level of difficulty I am aiming for, so that the PCs always win by the skin of their teeth, and I responded with "Huh. I guess I must be doing a really good job of balancing the encounters then," not really knowing what to say, and he took it that I was dismissing his concerns / making fun of him and has grumbled about it several times since.


From my perspective the player feels the game is too hard, presented evidence, I said that his evidence showed that the difficulty was not too hard but rather where I had intended it, and he took that as me dismissing his opinions.


Now I am the last GM who would advocate to design the whole Campaign "just as the Players would do it themselves", as Iw ant to ahve fun as well, and the main pull on DMing for me is to be able to let others play in my world.

THat said, a Palyer said that he thought your Game was too hard.

You said "I dont care, I think it fits" and went on doing it that way.

And you dont see the problem there?

Let me suggest improving your Communication as well, because, as I tend to say in all my games, Communication is EVERYTHING.
If y player comes up to you as DM and posts valid Feedback of ANY kind, you listen, you remember, and you act accordingly.

One of the main things that has nothing to do with DM preference being more impoertant is Difficulty.
Unless your palyers signed up for "hard Mode, no take backs" and like it, ALWAYS listen if they have valid feedback about difficulty.
Even if you dont see your description as difficult, thats only your opinion. For me, outside hardcore D&D ANYTHING with a TPK thats not caused by sheer stupidity is out of the ordinary, and every death matters.

So, I'm mildly torn here. On the one hand, I think that it is important for the GM to set the tone of their POV events: that sounds like I did a great job making RPG CaS to me; yeah, I really need to simultaneously boost the offense & lower the defense of the encounters, so that you still barely scrape by, but finish the fights faster, and so still have a few spells left; yeah, y'all keep winning - I really need to make the fights tougher, so that my "dead PC" folder can grow.

However, as tempting as a witty quip to explain that PoV may be, it should also leave room for the conversation to continue, rather than shutting them down. So maybe continue with something like: "why? What do you think it should look like?"

A big issue of CaS, for me, is that it doesn't matter what PC I bring, the adventure will be X challenging. You're removing the players' agency to affect the challenge level, promising that, anything that they do, the world will compensate. And you've even made rather related comments in this thread, asking if the world should be adapted to the PCs. My answer is a firm "no" on that front (but, then, I hate CaS in an RPG (but love it in a war game), so I'm biased).

I think you and your players need to have a good Session 0, where you discuss RPG theory and design accordingly, and the inclusion of a good communicator, who will catch when things like this happen, and force y'all to deal with it appropriately.


this is bad. Why? because if it goes further you are actually punishing your players for acting smart/being succesful. Where you should be doing the opposite.

Just wanted to say that I agree with this.


Actually, that is one area where I DO use symmetrical rules.

I let the controlling player (the DM in the case of NPCs) set the difficulty of all social rolls used against their character.

Now, some might disagree with me in calling this out as "important", but hear me out.

First, kudos for this. I do something similar, in that I "just roleplay" the NPCs, same as the players "just roleplay" the PCs.

Now, that said, I will still use skills to determine *how well* you offer a steak to the vegetarian, to know how you come off, but it doesn't change whether they'll eat it.

Other than my applauding you for doing this, the reason that this is important is that it can come off as you removing their agency to affect the game.


So I have been thinking a lot about the topic this last week.

So have I. My thought was this: your players won't run the game? Fine. But they have to make the system / make the house rules. Then you play a short (4-5 session) game 100% by those rules. Then y'all discuss. Repeat until y'all have come to an agreement. Or, at the very least, you've got more information to work with.

Talakeal
2019-05-31, 06:44 PM
That can be taken in a few ways. Assuming I udnerstand you correctly and you are talking about more than simply adjusting CR if you feel they fail too often/steamroll your encounters, which is normal, then yes, this is bad.

Why? because if it goes further you are actually punishing your players for acting smart/being succesful. Where you should be doing the opposite.

This seems to fall into the same vein as increasing DC`s for actions high level palyer CHaracters do to keep it interesting" or "not ahve them auto succeed" (the epitomal CLimb check that suddenly went from a 12 for a level 1 Character to a 25 for a level 8 for example).

Now, I dont know your palyers personally, so what I am going by are your posts and the only argumentative/whiny player I have had longer than 2 sessions, so please take it as wanting to help:

You should never "adjust" the World to the Players more than the world logically would do itself, especially if youa re running anything remotely sandboxy.

Why? Because people enjoying sandboxy play also usually enjoy Versimilitude.

Lets say your Level 5 party breezed through a Troll Encounter easily. After that, their next enemies (random or planned9 should in no way ever change to more difficult ones because of that. Or the raiding orcs suddenly acting like Ghengis Khan was leading them.
Or a BLack Dragon appearing "just to make it harder"....etc.

Now, if after they continue destroying Trolls easily, a few weeks later, a large band of Trolls led by a Hag decide to go on the offensive against them, thats internally consistent and "realistic".


Edit: I would not call it cheating, but yes, it is metagaming, and a type of metagaming that is done against the palyers and has no even remotely positive effect I can think of unless your group sucks balls as hard as Spaceballs Space Sucker ^^


One of the main things that has nothing to do with DM preference being more impoertant is Difficulty.
Unless your palyers signed up for "hard Mode, no take backs" and like it, ALWAYS listen if they have valid feedback about difficulty.
Even if you dont see your description as difficult, thats only your opinion. For me, outside hardcore D&D ANYTHING with a TPK thats not caused by sheer stupidity is out of the ordinary, and every death matters.

To clarify, I am talking when you are building the world, not retroactively changing it on the fly.

For example, if a level 4 brawler says "I am feeling bored and need some practice, I am going to go down to the local tavern and see if I can pick a fight with the toughest guy there," I am probably going to have the toughest guy there, who I am creating on the sport for the sole purpose of this encounter, be about level 4. I am not just going to have the brawler go stomp on level zero commoners, nor am I going to whip there as with a 17th level monk who is slumming it tonight.

Likewise, I am not talking about monsters being played super dumb or super smart, just if there is a point where the monster can choose from two valid options I will generally pick the one that will make for a more fun encounter, which usually means a closer fight.

My understanding is that, for example, most every video game lies to their players and adjusts difficulty on the fly. (Here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJj9nI_T5VQ)is a video I saw recently on the subject).

As for whether it is punishing the players or not, that is a deep philosophical issue. In my opinion I feel that such games are punishing me for being bad as they are denying me all the content the game has to offer and rewarding me for doing will for letting me take on the biggest challenges it has to offer. One could also argue that you are punishing players by denying them the joy of actually playing the game; for example if the player wants to slay dragons with a sword and shield but the clearly optimal strategy is to simply poison the dragons food and wait for it to die it could be argued that you are punishing them for being smart as they never actually get to slay the dragon like they signed up for.


One of the main things that has nothing to do with DM preference being more impoertant is Difficulty.
Unless your palyers signed up for "hard Mode, no take backs" and like it, ALWAYS listen if they have valid feedback about difficulty.
Even if you dont see your description as difficult, thats only your opinion. For me, outside hardcore D&D ANYTHING with a TPK thats not caused by sheer stupidity is out of the ordinary, and every death matters.

Yeah, I agree, I probably only have one TPK every five years or so, and when it is it is almost always caused by freakishly bad luck or sheer stupidity (usually both).


That said, a Player said that he thought your Game was too hard.

You said "I don't care, I think it fits" and went on doing it that way.

In retrospect that is certainly how I believe he perceived it.

The player in question complains that every single game he has ever played is too hard regardless of DM or system. A 100% win ratio is not good enough for him. If his character is ever injured or taken out of action he will bitch up a storm. In this particular case what he wanted was to have a bunch of spells left over at the end of every mission (instead of just most missions) so that he could sell them and break ahead of WBL.

He came to me with "proof" that the game was too hard by showing me that the average mission used almost 100% of the party's resources to complete, which I told him was exactly what I was aiming for because anything else leads to a snowball reflect that results in a Monte Haul cake walk or a hopeless death spiral.

Basically, it comes down to a fundamental mismatch of playstyles. He wants to play the tabletop equivalent of Diablo where he just grinds on waves of trivial monsters to power up his character. He isn't interested in the tactical combat, storyline, exploration, or social interaction, pillars of the game.

Or, in short, I don't know how I could make the game any easier without de-emphasizing combat (which he doesn't want) or making a game that is fundamentally boring and devoid of conflict.

OldTrees1
2019-05-31, 07:13 PM
Maybe the reason that I am ignoring it is that I am not seeing whatever it is that I am not seeing.
Well, I will say it blunter then. This will result in losing some nuance. I do not mean to come across quite as the text of this post does. That is the cost of being blunt.

Edit: Looks like you ninja'd this post a bit with your reply to GrayDeath. I will leave it here in case it helps.


From my perspective the player feels the game is too hard, presented evidence, I said that his evidence showed that the difficulty was not too hard but rather where I had intended it, and he took that as me dismissing his opinions.
From everything they could hear, you did dismiss their opinions. You were aware enough to realize they prefered an easier game than the difficulty you are targeting. However everything after that is solely referencing your preference for difficulty. It is at difficulty X because Talakeal prefers that difficulty. When a player has a different preference, you ignored it. The only thing you demonstrated caring about was whether the actual difficulty matched YOUR preference. Of course the player is going to feel like you dismissed their opinion. Of course the player is going to feel like you don't care about their preferences. I would not be surprised if the player had their own horror story thread. This is what you communicated to the player. Did you mean all of it, probably not. Did they walk away with that message, yes. Do you consider it a problem that you give the player that impression?


Basically, I am already running the game as "easy mode" as I can without breaking it. The players almost never fail, and if I make it any easier I am going to have a run-away Monty Haul effect where the players resources start to spiral out of control exponentially as they are going to be able to take out foes (and gain rewards) far above their level which will result in being even more OP. And I am speaking from experience here. And it is really hard to run such a campaign as anything but an over the top power fantasy and, imo, most of the players didn't sign up for that, and even the one player who did would probably get bored pretty quickly.

Note that the opposite can also be true if the game is too hard.

Already you have shown the player more respect behind their back than in front of it. You have reached a conclusion about the optimal difficulty for the group you are running for. You have considered some of their preferences, and imagined their other preferences. In an ideal world, if you were right, then no player would ever come to you asking for it to be easier/harder. Hmm. But a player did just that. They came to you stating that the difficulty you aimed for did not match their prefered difficulty. In the face of that evidence, you ignored it and focused on the evidence that your aim was precise.


In summary:
1) You are telling your players their opinions don't matter. This is an issue (especially if you don't mean it).
2) You are forgetting to reevaluate your conclusions when faced with new conflicting data. This is an issue.

My advice to you:
Improve Communication. Both in listening to the players and in demonstrating that you are listening.

Talakeal
2019-05-31, 07:49 PM
Well, I will say it blunter then. This will result in losing some nuance. I do not mean to come across quite as the text of this post does. That is the cost of being blunt.

Edit: Looks like you ninja'd this post a bit with your reply to GrayDeath. I will leave it here in case it helps.


From everything they could hear, you did dismiss their opinions. You were aware enough to realize they prefered an easier game than the difficulty you are targeting. However everything after that is solely referencing your preference for difficulty. It is at difficulty X because Talakeal prefers that difficulty. When a player has a different preference, you ignored it. The only thing you demonstrated caring about was whether the actual difficulty matched YOUR preference. Of course the player is going to feel like you dismissed their opinion. Of course the player is going to feel like you don't care about their preferences. I would not be surprised if the player had their own horror story thread. This is what you communicated to the player. Did you mean all of it, probably not. Did they walk away with that message, yes. Do you consider it a problem that you give the player that impression?



Already you have shown the player more respect behind their back than in front of it. You have reached a conclusion about the optimal difficulty for the group you are running for. You have considered some of their preferences, and imagined their other preferences. In an ideal world, if you were right, then no player would ever come to you asking for it to be easier/harder. Hmm. But a player did just that. They came to you stating that the difficulty you aimed for did not match their prefered difficulty. In the face of that evidence, you ignored it and focused on the evidence that your aim was precise.


In summary:
1) You are telling your players their opinions don't matter. This is an issue (especially if you don't mean it).
2) You are forgetting to reevaluate your conclusions when faced with new conflicting data. This is an issue.

My advice to you:
Improve Communication. Both in listening to the players and in demonstrating that you are listening.

You are making an awful lot of assumptions here.

I have told the player in question everything I have posted above.

I am making the game as easy as I can without it collapsing into a Monty Haul success spiral, and he knows this. He is trying to give me mathematical evidence that the game is harder than I intended, and I told him that his mathematical proof only shows that the game is at the known and intended balancing point. Which actually has very little to do with difficulty now that I think about it.

For example, if we were talking about D&D 3.5, and someone made a "horror story" thread about how their DM was too hard, and then they had math proving it because he was throwing three encounters a day at them with monsters that were almost equal to the parties CR, and they were only at double the DMG's recommended WBL guidelines, how would respond to him?*



You have reached a conclusion about the optimal difficulty for the group you are running for. You have considered some of their preferences, and imagined their other preferences. In an ideal world, if you were right, then no player would ever come to you asking for it to be easier/harder. Hmm. But a player did just that. They came to you stating that the difficulty you aimed for did not match their preferred difficulty. In the face of that evidence, you ignored it and focused on the evidence that your aim was precise..

I don't get what you are saying here. You seem to be implying that all complaints are equally valid, which is obviously ridiculous. The world is not perfect, we can't always get what we want, even if everyone is hearing our complaints and doing our best to correct them because there are always costs and tradeoffs, and often time people do not even know what they really want.


*Edit: I just realized that actually did happen once back on the old WoTC forum. I can't find an archive of it, but basically my players (who constantly complained that the game was too hard because I played my monsters too smart) posted a thread asking for help, and the forum basically laughed at how OP their characters were and how Monty Haul the campaign looked from the outside and told them not to worry, that I was obviously such a pushover DM I would never let anything bad happen to them.

OldTrees1
2019-05-31, 08:23 PM
You are making an awful lot of assumptions here.
I did say that post would be blunter at the cost of losing a lot of nuance. I also was replying based only off of what you had told us about what you had told the player. At the time of the post, that information had some omissions.

And, again, I am being blunter & less nuanced than normal because you expressed trouble seeing the problems. Being flashing inaccurate depictions might be easier to see than gentle nuanced depictions. Please keep in mind the tone is not intended.


I am making the game as easy as I can without it collapsing into a Monty Haul success spiral, and he knows this. He is trying to give me mathematical evidence that the game is harder than I intended, and I told him that his mathematical proof only shows that the game is at the known and intended balancing point. Which actually has very little to do with difficulty now that I think about it.

You believe the player was asking you to tone down the difficulty.
You responded to them only in terms of how the data matched the difficulty you had chosen to aim at.
The player, reasonably, heard you communicate a disregard for their statement of a differing preference.
Perhaps that player, reasonably, now believes you don't care or consider their preferences. DM horror stories have been written over less.
Regardless of whether that was intended, and especially since it was not intended, that is an issue you could improve upon.


I don't get what you are saying here. You seem to be implying that all complaints are equally valid, which is obviously ridiculous. The world is not perfect, we can't always get what we want, even if everyone is hearing our complaints and doing our best to correct them because there are always costs and tradeoffs, and often time people do not even know what they really want.

If you conclude X is the optimal way to satisfy the preferences of all involved. Then every time someone complains it is evidence against your conclusion. I am not implying all evidence is equal strength. When you get evidence that supports refuting your conclusion (say when a player is brave enough to mention the difficulty not matching their preferences), it is wise to reevaluate your conclusion. However you did not (according to what information you have provided). If that is accurate, then that too is an issue you can work upon.

NichG
2019-05-31, 11:20 PM
Talakeal, have you tried running an easy- mode Monty Haul Diablo-like campaign where the party trivially steam rolls everything without ever taking damage? Are you sure these players wouldn't enjoy that, or are you just assuming that because you couldn't see yourself enjoying it?

Talakeal
2019-05-31, 11:55 PM
Talakeal, have you tried running an easy- mode Monty Haul Diablo-like campaign where the party trivially steam rolls everything without ever taking damage? Are you sure these players wouldn't enjoy that, or are you just assuming that because you couldn't see yourself enjoying it?

I have run a lot of Monty Haul games over the years, when I first started DMing I often tried to buy players enjoyment in an ultimately unsustainable manner.

Nowdays I fell that I still run a bit on the easy side, but Imhave never tried to go intentionally over the top easy. I wouldn't enjoy it, and while some of my players might enjoy it I feel it likely that they would more likely feel patronized or just plain bored. Still, maybe once I am at a point in my life where I have more time and opportunity to game I will try something more experimental.

NichG
2019-06-01, 02:50 AM
I have run a lot of Monty Haul games over the years, when I first started DMing I often tried to buy players enjoyment in an ultimately unsustainable manner.

Nowdays I fell that I still run a bit on the easy side, but Imhave never tried to go intentionally over the top easy. I wouldn't enjoy it, and while some of my players might enjoy it I feel it likely that they would more likely feel patronized or just plain bored. Still, maybe once I am at a point in my life where I have more time and opportunity to game I will try something more experimental.

Normally I'd say 'it's important that you enjoy what you run' and therefore, if you have players who cannot enjoy the kind of gaming you need in order to have fun, you should not play with them. As simple as that.

However, you've previously said that for you bad gaming is preferable to no gaming, then there's a bit more leeway there. That leeway is likely going to involve compromising your own enjoyment (thus, the 'bad' in 'bad gaming').

Even if you know that you wouldn't enjoy a zero-challenge Monty Haul game - either playing in it or running it - you're ignoring what the player in your group is saying about what they would enjoy. They're saying, effectively, 'yes, I want a Monty Haul game where I can have power fantasies without having to work for them'. You're telling them that, no matter what they say, you refuse to believe that that's actually what they want.

It might be that they have played such games and do actually enjoy that more than actually being challenged. Or it might be that they haven't played such games and might eventually become bored with them, but until they've actually experienced it for themselves they still would rather try and become bored than having a challenging game that doesn't give them what they want. Or they could just be wrong about what they want. However, if you don't actually take what they said seriously (especially if you make it clear through being patronizing or ignoring them that you aren't taking it seriously), they're going to try to solve their discontent by acting out instead of by talking to you, because talking to you won't ever solve anything for them. And so you're going to get them whining, or attempting to sabotage your ability to GM, or things like that.

These players (or this particular player perhaps) don't sound like people I would bother to GM for. I would say to them 'we want incompatible things, find another table'. But, if you're not going to simply tell them that what you want is incompatible, then your choices are either to just live with this kind of constant level of acting out and learn to ignore it, or make compromises that will diminish your own enjoyment.

MeimuHakurei
2019-06-01, 06:05 AM
A big issue of CaS, for me, is that it doesn't matter what PC I bring, the adventure will be X challenging. You're removing the players' agency to affect the challenge level, promising that, anything that they do, the world will compensate. And you've even made rather related comments in this thread, asking if the world should be adapted to the PCs. My answer is a firm "no" on that front (but, then, I hate CaS in an RPG (but love it in a war game), so I'm biased).

Quoting this because I feel it could make for an interesting discussion, albeit in a seperate thread - on one hand, I disagree with the implication that equal challenge will play or feel the same on different power levels - a Fighter and a Wizard will perform significantly different even if the challenge matches their power (this holds true whether or not one is stronger than the other btw).

On the other hand, I do agree that a lot of adjusting to the party is a little overdone - while I'm fine with it on a story level (plot hooks that engage the particular characters et al), you do not need to pump enemy HP on a highly offense-oriented group or remove all traps and locks from the game because nobody took the relevant skills. Let the players figure out how to handle an unorthodox group composition.

Satinavian
2019-06-01, 06:20 AM
Maybe the reason that I am ignoring it is that I am not seeing whatever it is that I am not seeing.

From my perspective the player feels the game is too hard, presented evidence, I said that his evidence showed that the difficulty was not too hard but rather where I had intended it, and he took that as me dismissing his opinions.

Basically, I am already running the game as "easy mode" as I can without breaking it. The players almost never fail, and if I make it any easier I am going to have a run-away Monty Haul effect where the players resources start to spiral out of control exponentially as they are going to be able to take out foes (and gain rewards) far above their level which will result in being even more OP. And I am speaking from experience here. And it is really hard to run such a campaign as anything but an over the top power fantasy and, imo, most of the players didn't sign up for that, and even the one player who did would probably get bored pretty quickly.

Note that the opposite can also be true if the game is too hard.Ok, let's try it again.

You tend to include ressourse management as a major aspect of the game. That is fine. And your players usually don't complain about it.

You include a lot of "Risk vs Reward" structures. That is also fine. Letting your players choose how risky they want to act should lead to them being more happy.


But then you always complain that it doesn't work. They tend to choose "wrong". They play it safe. They don't engage the fun encounters you prepared. Or are not willing to do so after you have their ressources depleted due to dangerous journeys. Or they just complain that your rule system makes the fight too difficult. Or they try to game the rules for an easy win.

And you react by making the low risk options even lower on reward, including "no reward". You tweak the rules or adjucate until they are as powerful in comparison to encounters as you would think is right. You adjust the system until they more or less have to take risky options.


All of that is counterproductive. Your players don't like as much risk as you would like as a player or as a DM. The encounters you think are challanging and fun are not fun for your players. The encounters you think are boring because too weak are what your players think feels right.


There is no such thing as an objective optimal difficulty. You try to prove that your game is "not too hard" but that is an excersize in futility. What was it ? One wipe and 2 near wipes in one year ? You might think that is low. But others might find that rather high and they are not wrong. It is all subjective. The victory on knifes edge that you so like might not feel that good for your players. It seems to feel more like "That was a close call. We shouldn't have gotten ourself in that much danger"


That alone is bad enough of a mismatch. But then you also like randomness. You use random encounters, random crafting, random trading, random events ... Randomness makes things even more difficult because it makes planning harder and a group loosing is usually more detrimental than a group winning is beneficial. If your players are kinda risk averse, more randomness is a bad thing.




Your players want an easier time. Even if that nearly kills progression, they choose this way as you have experienced.

Talakeal
2019-06-01, 08:28 AM
Normally I'd say 'it's important that you enjoy what you run' and therefore, if you have players who cannot enjoy the kind of gaming you need in order to have fun, you should not play with them. As simple as that.

However, you've previously said that for you bad gaming is preferable to no gaming, then there's a bit more leeway there. That leeway is likely going to involve compromising your own enjoyment (thus, the 'bad' in 'bad gaming').

Even if you know that you wouldn't enjoy a zero-challenge Monty Haul game - either playing in it or running it - you're ignoring what the player in your group is saying about what they would enjoy. They're saying, effectively, 'yes, I want a Monty Haul game where I can have power fantasies without having to work for them'. You're telling them that, no matter what they say, you refuse to believe that that's actually what they want.

It might be that they have played such games and do actually enjoy that more than actually being challenged. Or it might be that they haven't played such games and might eventually become bored with them, but until they've actually experienced it for themselves they still would rather try and become bored than having a challenging game that doesn't give them what they want. Or they could just be wrong about what they want. However, if you don't actually take what they said seriously (especially if you make it clear through being patronizing or ignoring them that you aren't taking it seriously), they're going to try to solve their discontent by acting out instead of by talking to you, because talking to you won't ever solve anything for them. And so you're going to get them whining, or attempting to sabotage your ability to GM, or things like that.

These players (or this particular player perhaps) don't sound like people I would bother to GM for. I would say to them 'we want incompatible things, find another table'. But, if you're not going to simply tell them that what you want is incompatible, then your choices are either to just live with this kind of constant level of acting out and learn to ignore it, or make compromises that will diminish your own enjoyment.

If the players were unanimous in this I would tend to agree, but they really aren't.

I have one guy who complains when he sees asymmetrical rules.

And one guy who is a classic munchkin who can't handle losing or being told no, and complains any time he suffers a set back no matter how minor; if he has to expend a resource, if an enemy hurts his character, or if his plan fails.

The rest of the group is pretty drama free.

The first guy wouldn't care if the game were easier because there is still asymmetry.

I don't think I can run a game that is easy enough for the second guy, and certainly not one that the rest of the table (let alone myself) would enjoy.


Ok, let's try it again.

You tend to include ressourse management as a major aspect of the game. That is fine. And your players usually don't complain about it.

You include a lot of "Risk vs Reward" structures. That is also fine. Letting your players choose how risky they want to act should lead to them being more happy.


But then you always complain that it doesn't work. They tend to choose "wrong". They play it safe. They don't engage the fun encounters you prepared. Or are not willing to do so after you have their ressources depleted due to dangerous journeys. Or they just complain that your rule system makes the fight too difficult. Or they try to game the rules for an easy win.

And you react by making the low risk options even lower on reward, including "no reward". You tweak the rules or adjucate until they are as powerful in comparison to encounters as you would think is right. You adjust the system until they more or less have to take risky options.


All of that is counterproductive. Your players don't like as much risk as you would like as a player or as a DM. The encounters you think are challanging and fun are not fun for your players. The encounters you think are boring because too weak are what your players think feels right.


There is no such thing as an objective optimal difficulty. You try to prove that your game is "not too hard" but that is an excersize in futility. What was it ? One wipe and 2 near wipes in one year ? You might think that is low. But others might find that rather high and they are not wrong. It is all subjective. The victory on knifes edge that you so like might not feel that good for your players. It seems to feel more like "That was a close call. We shouldn't have gotten ourself in that much danger"


That alone is bad enough of a mismatch. But then you also like randomness. You use random encounters, random crafting, random trading, random events ... Randomness makes things even more difficult because it makes planning harder and a group loosing is usually more detrimental than a group winning is beneficial. If your players are kinda risk averse, more randomness is a bad thing.




Your players want an easier time. Even if that nearly kills progression, they choose this way as you have experienced.

Wow. I have to say, I am impressed at how well you have been following my threads!

I actually have responded to a lot of my player criticism and forum feedback, for example I have removed random encounters and the penalty for losing.

I honestly don't know if I have made the low risk options no reward, is that a specific reference to something I said?

My current campaign was a bit of an experiment because I was trying to run a hex-crawl style campaign in a game system that wasn't really designed for it and it got off to a shaky start, but I think that the players (and my house rules) have more or less gotten into a good spot and we haven't really been having any trouble with the game recently; we booted the one problem player in the group, and the two complainers have just been doing the same grumbling that they have since high school.

Segev
2019-06-01, 09:23 AM
How big is this group? Are “the two complainers” half the table, a third? Why not invite them to leave if they don’t enjoy what is clearly fun for everyone else?

Talakeal
2019-06-01, 09:29 AM
How big is this group? Are “the two complainers” half the table, a third? Why not invite them to leave if they don’t enjoy what is clearly fun for everyone else?

Its currently a 4 person group, we gave our 5th the boot.


Due to social dynamics we can't really change up the membership at the moment.


Honestly though, when they aren't complaining (which is 99% of the time) I genuinely do enjoy having both of these players at the table, I guess am just looking for some magic bullet to smooth over that last 1%.

Great Dragon
2019-06-01, 09:35 AM
@Talakeal
To me, it looks like you have achieved as much "balance" in your group as is possible.


****
The "asymmetrical" guy isn't going to be able to find very many games that aren't that way.

Most RPGs have Villains/BBEGs (and lots of Monsters) with abilities/powers that the PCs never get, usually based on something from the media/genre they are based on. (SW's Emperor, Marvel's Thanos, DC's Darkseid, D&D = Acererak, Etc)


****
As for all the other Players, there must be something in your game (and style) that they like, or they would just stop coming.

Quertus
2019-06-01, 11:10 AM
Quoting this because I feel it could make for an interesting discussion, albeit in a seperate thread - on one hand, I disagree with the implication that equal challenge will play or feel the same on different power levels - a Fighter and a Wizard will perform significantly different even if the challenge matches their power (this holds true whether or not one is stronger than the other btw).

On the other hand, I do agree that a lot of adjusting to the party is a little overdone - while I'm fine with it on a story level (plot hooks that engage the particular characters et al), you do not need to pump enemy HP on a highly offense-oriented group or remove all traps and locks from the game because nobody took the relevant skills. Let the players figure out how to handle an unorthodox group composition.

It's video game pallet shifted enemies with bigger numbers: a foo set to 20 and a bar set to 20 against a sna set to 20 play the same as a foo set to 50 and a bar set to 50 against a sna set to 50.

Instead, set your sna to 20, and let the *players* choose if their foo and bar will be set to 20, or 19, or 21 - or possibly even something further afield, if that's what they enjoy.

And I think that that advice is appropriate to this thread.

I agree with that last paragraph. In fact, I think it was what I was trying to get across.

NichG
2019-06-01, 11:48 AM
It's video game pallet shifted enemies with bigger numbers: a foo set to 20 and a bar set to 20 against a sna set to 20 play the same as a foo set to 50 and a bar set to 50 against a sna set to 50.

Instead, set your sna to 20, and let the *players* choose if their foo and bar will be set to 20, or 19, or 21 - or possibly even something further afield, if that's what they enjoy.

And I think that that advice is appropriate to this thread.

I agree with that last paragraph. In fact, I think it was what I was trying to get across.

Generally (in CRPGs) the actual gameplay curve (palette shift or not) has to do with a segue from straight up damage races to dealing with various complications: status conditions, area attacks, timing sequences, etc. Characters have numbers go up, but they also have the set of available options go up. The curve is there to avoid players having to simultaneously grasp multiple systems at once, but rather lets them learn mechanics one at a time. So we could talk about scaling the numbers, or scaling the complexity, and it's actually two (different) kinds of difficulty rubber-banding.

An example would be, you could have a campaign where the enemies are always the same level as the party, but the world has some areas populated by things with RHD, some with NPC class levels, some with fighter levels, some with bard/etc levels, and some with multiclass builds with T1 caster shenanigans going on. The level is rubber-banded, but the difficulty definitely still varies, in terms of the complexity of the encounters that the party needs to be able to deal with. Or you could rubber-band the class composition but have the levels vary freely - a really savvy group in that DM's campaign might find themselves at Lv9 facing a squad of Lv3 wizards arrayed behind murderholes and equipped with nearly-empty Wands of CL7 Magic Missile or worse, whereas as less savvy group at Lv9 finds a bunch of Lv3 fighters instead. Both are scaling difficulty, and both block the players from having agency over a particular element of their gameplay experience - but not the same element in both cases.

kyoryu
2019-06-01, 12:52 PM
I'd also say that in a hex-crawly type situation, it's not your job to create the encounters and tailor them. It's your job to run the world, let the players have a reasonable idea of what they might encounter, and make their own decisions about what seems like a good thing to tackle or not.

If they know the ogre mountains are to the north and the kobold forest is to the south, and have a rough idea of what might be there (yay random monster tables tailored to the environment), then they can choose to take the easy way or the hard way, and when they want to head back to safety. Take that job out of your hands entirely.

If they want the Ogre Mountains, they can go there. Their problem, not yours. If they wanna wimp out with the Kobold Forest, also not your problem.

Talakeal
2019-06-01, 11:45 PM
Just finished a session.

Too tired to write up a full post right now, but oh holy crap guys, things really came to a head.

Will be back with the details in the morning.

Talakeal
2019-06-02, 11:11 AM
So, yeah, things might be a bit worse than I thought.

First off, I realized that my power-gamer player has a sort of self destructive miserly streak. His evidence that his adventures are too hard is that he barely has any spell slots left to sell for profit at the end of the mission (and boy did he go on a rant about how unfair it was that PCs sell things for half price last night). Furthermore, he refuses to actually spend money on anything that is not a permanent upgrade to his character. In last nights situation they were going after a dungeon that was above their level (sandbox game remember) and I told them that it would be more difficulty than usual but also have better rewards, and that they might want to bring on a few extra henchmen and stock up on consumables first, but he put his foot down and insisted it was a waste of money.

So then they get there and are doing ok. Then the get to what is the biggest single fight in the dungeon, which I describe as a regiment of very well trained and equipped guards who are practicing with incredible discipline. The party comes in without buffing or anything, and the enemies are willing to talk, but the PCs just go all "no monologuing" and attack as a disorganized mob with no communication. The unengaged enemies then focus fire on the party's mages and the power-gamer's character is brought down (but not killed).

The player then decides to go into the next room and take a nap.

He is healed soon after, but refuses to come back out, and thus, down a man (remember he goes ballistic if anyone else plays his character) comes within a hair's breath of a TPK.

We then get an almost two hour delay where the party is unable to make a decision as to how to proceed, as they are so low on resources that they don't think they can either proceed or safely return to town.* The napping player comes out about half way through this, but doesn't really contribute.

Eventually the party figures a way out of their jam and are able to complete the adventure.

One of the rewards is a magic item that grants its user some construct traits, including the "automatically makes all fortitude saves except for those that also affect objects." And then the power gamer, we will call him Bob, said the following:

Bob: Ok, make sure you protect yourself against fortitude saves that effect objects, because a lot of those will be coming at you now.
Me: Its a pretty rare form of attack, and its never been an issue before, the odds that it will be the most optimal strategy against you are pretty low.
Bob: Oh, normally yes. But Talakeal always ensures that if you have a weakness enemies will magically start appearing who do nothing but exploit that weakness.
Me: When does that happen?
Bob: All the time!
Me: What are you talking about? Your "shape-change into an incorporeal creature" trick has reliably made you immune to almost every attack, there have been like what, three times something was able to get through it in the entire 13 month campaign?**
Bob: No. It happens all the time. Anytime I find a perfect defense you tailor make an NPC just to screw me over and then laugh in my face about it!

And then I realized something, this player is still nursing an eight year old grudge and apparently it has permanently shattered his trust in me.


Now, I know I have told this story before, maybe earlier in this very thread, but to reiterate:

This occurred eight years ago, in June of 2011. The party was fighting an evil demigod whose portfolio was "Space." Bob was playing his usual character, a min-maxxed glass cannon mage, and the demigod, being a supra genius, was ignoring the melee to go after her. She teleported away, and then the demigod followed and I, in full ham villain voice said "Mwa-ha-ha. You think you can use conjuration to escape me? I was born of this!" and proceeds to kill the character.
The rest of the party continues on, and at one point during the fight I realized I made a bad call, and reversed my decision. The call had nothing to do with Bob's character being killed, but Bob made a bitter statement about how I was clearly playing favorites and am willing to cheat to save the rest of the party but not him.
Now, this is a fairly high level game, and the rest of the party was able to defeat the demigod and then resurrect bobs character. We continue playing for a while, and Bob doesn't say anything. I figure he is upset that he character died and give him some space, and we continue the game. A while later they meet with an NPC (Bob's character's mentor) and talks to Bob's character about something at length, and then at one point asks her a direct question. Bob doesn't say a word, either in or out of character. After a long awkward silence I break character and ask if why he is just ignoring the NPC to which he replies "Because I just don't care about your stupid world or its stupid lore and I don't give a crap what your stupid NPCs have to say. And you know I don't care, and that is why you are punishing me and then laughing in my face about it!" and then gets up and leaves the room.

Later I tried to explain to him that it wasn't anything personal, I wasn't trying to punish him or laugh at him, I was merely role-playing an NPC villain as an intelligent, arrogant, and evil son of a bitch. I tried to explain that sometimes players (and DM's) make mistakes and sometimes dice just don't go your way, and sometimes to make the PCs really care about the game you have to make them hate the villains, and used comparisons to several video games I know he likes. He then said that he doesn't play games which mock you for dying or have cheap deaths, and if he encounters either of those in a video game he immediately turns the game off and probably never turns it on again.


Now, in my opinion this was pretty much the worst behavior I have ever seen from a player. I figured he was having a bad day and just let it go. This was eight years ago, and in my opinion he had really gotten a lot better at playing with others, and a couple of years ago I actually told him how proud I was of him because he was now the stable player holding the group together. But it seems like the last six months or so he has started to rapidly regress back to his old grumpy munckin self.


At this point I literally can't kick him from the game due to the social dynamics of the group, so that isn't an option even if I were to concede that it was necessary. Apparently he has a lot of unresolved issues with me, and I have invited him out to lunch today where I am going to try and have an open talk about trust and his expectations for the game, and I am going to try and make it about me rather than about him so he can open up and tell me what is going on without feeling attacked.

But yeah, that's where we are.






*The adventure is taking place on an island. There are pirates on the island which they decided to bluff their way past, but they sabotaged the pirate's ship while they were there and burned it down. Now the harbor is full of pissed off and ship-less pirates.
**: This is a sandbox campaign. 90% of it was designed before I knew who would be playing in it, let alone what character they are playing, so the idea that I am tailoring encounters to screw over one specific player's strategy is kind of ridiculous. It has actually kind of been an ongoing problem for me as the mage has been shapeshifting into an incorporeal creature and then wand-ing the enemies to death meaning that he can solo 90% of the encounters without any risk or resource expenditure.

GrayDeath
2019-06-02, 11:57 AM
If thats how he is, there really seems nothing you can do but kick him, no matter how problematic that might be for the group dynamic.

Players with such a lack of trust for (and kind of a vendetta against) the GM simply destroy groups.

No matter who was to blame to begin with, if you cant work it out by talking to him (and people saying "I dont care about your stupid lore and you are punishing me for it" dont seem very ... communicative to me^^) there is nothing else left to do.

Also, just saying, you determine the world and its (re)actions. Until you accept an action of a player, it has not happened. if your players (or Player) say "no stupid monologueing" and aim to attack in a "stupid" way, you can put your foot down, explain there is NO monologing, and expectr them to act like they have more than 2 brain cells.

Talking to them is necessary in many ways it seems.

Sigh....

kyoryu
2019-06-02, 12:16 PM
Can you explain the “can’t sell items at full price” thing?

If selling to a shop, it would seem to make sense that you’d sell for less than list price because the shopkeeper would want to make a profit.

Again, there seems to be a lot of presuming that you will and should tailor the difficulty of things to the group (thus never buying consumables, hiring henchmen, etc.)

I’d really recommend going full sandbox. Let them choose what they do and where they go. Get out of that business entirely.