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    Elurindel's Avatar

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    Default Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    I’d like to relieve a little of the stress I feel from GM’ing a Dark Heresy Campaign, the first session of which was not too long ago. To give it a little perspective, I’ll give you a short brief.
    There are five different players, a Guardsman who acts like a berserker in combat with his mono-edged cleaver, a Techpriest who isn’t actually that smart, an Assassin who insists on trailing away from the group to climb up buildings for sniping with his highly-modded rifle, a psyker whose player is near-incapable of roleplaying, thinking, or breathing without assistance and a Cleric (the loud priest type rather than the healing chest type) who has called himself Jesus, and occasionally tries to pass himself off as his namesake, to my chagrin.
    It’s set on a world that has quite high tech for the Imperium, where the Guard has settled the world after they have conquered it, which is to be the site of a zombie infestation later on. Before then, there are some light investigation scenes for the sake of having some more roleplay-heavy sessions, to find who might be dealing with xenos tech, mysterious murders/disappearing etc.. I warn you now that those of you not familiar with Dark Heresy may not get some of the terminology I am about to use, but I am sure many of you are painfully familiar with the towering idiocy some players are capable of. Which is what shocked me all the more, as my players are, for the most part, people of average or above-average intelligence. Read on, and be horrified.

    Once they had been briefed by their Inquisitor, and handed micro-beads, for ease of communication, the party was sent into a shuttle and sent to touch down on the city’s landing pad, the Inquisitor’s ship moving away from orbit, in order to attend to other matters, whilst the local authorities asked the party to stay where they were. The local authorities in this case having flak greatcoats similar to Commissars, and carrying shotguns. The party gave the Enforcers the spiel that they were on shore leave. The Enforcers, not quite buying their lie, taking a look at their full Guard-issue armour, array of guns, grenades, a massive cleaver and sniper rifle. They decide to feed the party a line, asking if they came from the Rogue Trader ship that just came down, to which the party Cleric, the most sociable of the bunch, replies yes.
    Now, I was feeling a little lenient at this point, and decided that, rather than arrest them, I would let them know that their presence would be carefully monitored in the city, which the Enforcers of this world have the power to do.
    So they decide to do what they set out to, which was to investigate the local populace for rumours about who might be dealing with forbidden Xenos technology. To this end, they intend to investigate the local church of the Emperor, under the cover of simply going to attend the daily service. In order to disguise themselves, they buy some robes to wear. Over their full battle gear. Which includes assault rifles, and in one case, a massive cleaver. And full Guard armour. With helmets! Let that sink in for a moment. The sniper finds a nearby tall building, to provide covering fire from, it not occurring to him that the windows are not only high up, but made of stained glass, thus very sharply reducing any kind of visibility he would have.
    Once again, I was still feeling lenient, so I decided to point out the fact that things like lasguns, shotguns etc would be noticed if they walked in with them under their robes. After some debate as to how easy it would be for them to stick the lasgun onto their leg and walk in time with it, I managed to get them to dispense of everything but their pistols, knives, a few grenades, and the Guardsman kept his cleaver, whose monomolecular edge was slicing little cuts through the robe as he walked. But here’s the kicker: They’re still wearing helmets! The Techpriest, his player apparently not feeling in a roleplay mood, decides to wander off somewhere else and contribute absolutely nothing to the session until later.
    As they try to walk in through the door, the priest at the front asks them for a donation, and confiscates the Guardsman’s cleaver until after the sermon is over. This little interaction done with, they go on in. The party Cleric joins in with the hymns, whilst looking out for anybody suspicious. The Guardsman does the same whilst the Psyker’s player stares off into space, his three second attention span having been lost due to the lack of killing things. I throw them a bone, and they find somebody with some non-standard augmentations in the back row, who the Cleric decides to talk to. The conversation on his end was so bumbling and awkward, that I basically ended up feeding him his lines. Eventually, they managed to introduce themselves as looking to get into the xenos tech business themselves, perhaps as hired muscle. The Guardsman touted his immense strength, and the Cleric his ability to slip through crowds and skill with people. When the Psyker’s player was asked what talents he had, he blanked. Knowing him, I specifically told him out of character not to start listing off the list of Talents on his character sheet. He starts listing off the Talents on his character sheet. After trying to choke down a small aneurysm, I manage to get him to say that he has psychic abilities which could come in handy (people in character not actually knowing what the names of his abilities mean).
    The shifty NPC gives them a small token, so they can identify themselves to his men when they come for the meeting tonight. At this point, the High Priest comes around with the collection plate, his grossly-muscled bodyguard touting a minigun on his back. Think the Heavy from Team Fortress 2 and you won’t go far wrong. The Guardsman, being the strongest in our party, decides to walk up to him, and challenges him to an arm-wrestling contest in the middle of the church. I’ll wait for you to find your brains after they imploded. I think at this point the madness was starting to touch me as well, because I decided to go along with it, once he began putting money down. Naturally, the bodyguard gives beats him with not very much effort, and the Guardsman is assigned to bedpan duty in the church’s hospital until nightfall.
    As they begin arranging their plans to go in, I decide to call it a night. Whilst the party’s characters hadn’t picked up any Insanity points, I sure as hell had. I mean, I know I promised them zombies, but I wanted some kind of investigation part beforehand, to set the scene, and provide some kind of insight as to how it all began, the better for them to combat the source of the infection later. Am I asking too much of my players to actually think with the slightest bit of logic? Am I asking too much for them to talk their way through one scene without saying something that makes them look like they should be wearing bicycle helmets rather than flak helmets? Or should I just give up all faith in humanity?

    Incidentally, I am looking to start a version of this campaign online, with actual intelligent, roleplaying people. There will be zombies of different types, investigation, mysterious figures, a wide range of NPC characters, and a city in which the choice is yours as to where you go and what you do, within reason. Please contact me on kid_in_blue@hotmail.com or PM me here.

    Yours in brain bleeding frustration

    Elurindel


    TL;DR? My players are acting like f*cking morons. Please help me.
    Last edited by Elurindel; 2009-08-15 at 05:29 AM.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    That sounds horrible. I would suggest killing their characters off as a form of revenge but that has it's obvious downsides. Maybe an inquisitorial prompting, a vision, a stern talking to? At least online RP seems to be better in general, and if someone is dropped out you can find a replacement relatively quickly...

    Tolerance is a sign of weakness

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    OH. OH GOD. I pity you very deeply... I'll trade you a powergamer for the Techpriest's player!
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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Jesus. And I don't mean the character in your game, either.
    I mean, like, Jesus dude. Your group sounds HORRID. I would really encourage you to tell them just how dumb they are, but possibly more nicely, if manageable. A question, though. Are any of these players 40k players? If so, it might make sense. "Hm, I like 40k. Why not do an RPG? I liked Dawn of War, must not be that different." I could ACTUALLY understand that reasoning, though I wouldn't like it that much.

    But what you SHOULD do is start inflicting massive IC penalties if they start jerking off like that again. Introducing yourselves as fresh off the Rogue Trader? Nuh uh. Sorry, I'd've arrested them. Challenging someone to an arm wrestling contest IN A CHURCH? Sorry, that's MAJOR offense to the people in it, and suddenly THEY WON'T TALK TO YOU. Mission over. The PCs get reassigned to latrine duty on Mierda VII. Player decides to walk off? His character stays exactly where it was when he left. When the player returns and wants to contribute, tell him that people have gathered around him due to his apparent narcolepsy, and has also been robbed. Etc, etc, etc.
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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by Crown of Thorns View Post
    That sounds horrible. I would suggest killing their characters off as a form of revenge but that has it's obvious downsides. Maybe an inquisitorial prompting, a vision, a stern talking to? At least online RP seems to be better in general, and if someone is dropped out you can find a replacement relatively quickly...

    Tolerance is a sign of weakness
    I am actually planning at least to horribly punish them. Ever seen the Maggots in The Meat campaign? I may be throwing them into something like that.
    Apart from that, some harsh telling off in character could be in order, and I do plan to have the xenos tech broker's guards joking loudly about their actions for some time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Deth Muncher View Post
    Jesus. And I don't mean the character in your game, either.
    I mean, like, Jesus dude. Your group sounds HORRID. I would really encourage you to tell them just how dumb they are, but possibly more nicely, if manageable. A question, though. Are any of these players 40k players? If so, it might make sense. "Hm, I like 40k. Why not do an RPG? I liked Dawn of War, must not be that different." I could ACTUALLY understand that reasoning, though I wouldn't like it that much.

    But what you SHOULD do is start inflicting massive IC penalties if they start jerking off like that again. Introducing yourselves as fresh off the Rogue Trader? Nuh uh. Sorry, I'd've arrested them. Challenging someone to an arm wrestling contest IN A CHURCH? Sorry, that's MAJOR offense to the people in it, and suddenly THEY WON'T TALK TO YOU. Mission over. The PCs get reassigned to latrine duty on Mierda VII. Player decides to walk off? His character stays exactly where it was when he left. When the player returns and wants to contribute, tell him that people have gathered around him due to his apparent narcolepsy, and has also been robbed. Etc, etc, etc.
    This also sounds like a good idea. Whilst some of them have dabbled in 40k, and have armies, we haven't played 40k in a while. Perhaps they are indeed thinking in the same mindset.
    Last edited by Elurindel; 2009-08-15 at 07:32 AM.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    I like 40k. I've also played DoW. I thought a 40k RP game would be fun. The closest I came to a proper game of DH was a demo session at Games Day last year. I'd like to think I was a better roleplayer than them, but really all I did was shoot at stuff and look for a helmet. On the plus side someone chucked a frag in a room full of promethium. Then closed the door. The door flew out and crushed them against the wall.

    But I digress: Humiliation near-death situations and reprimands but make sure you don't go too far over the line and cross to the other side...PsychoDMing

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by Crown of Thorns View Post
    I like 40k. I've also played DoW. I thought a 40k RP game would be fun. The closest I came to a proper game of DH was a demo session at Games Day last year. I'd like to think I was a better roleplayer than them, but really all I did was shoot at stuff and look for a helmet. On the plus side someone chucked a frag in a room full of promethium. Then closed the door. The door flew out and crushed them against the wall.

    But I digress: Humiliation near-death situations and reprimands but make sure you don't go too far over the line and cross to the other side...PsychoDMing
    Well, if you're a good roleplayer, I might end up trying to recruit you. It's a relatively simple system compared to D&D, and a lot of fun for the 40k fans, especially if they've read stuff like Eisenhorn

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    I actually know Elurindel offline, so I got the "while the iron is hot" version of this story on MSN.

    Reading this now, it seems if anything even more idiotic. I mean... Wow. That's AGGRESSIVELY stupid.

    I mean, I like to think of myself as a smart person, but I'm still only one person, and I can come up with a plan streaks ahead of that in... Well, I actually DID come up with a better plan, because Elurindel asked me. It took me about three minutes.

    Fortunately, this is Dark Heresy, so killing people off in amusing ways is all part of the experience. I highly recommend Elurindel to go for a hilarious TPK as soon as possible, then tell the group why it happened. EG: That they were aggressively, BLINDINGLY stupid.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    I've read Abnett mostly, but also CIAPHAS CAIN, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM! I know about all the roll under your stat stuff, but it was almost a year ago so I'll need more prompts. Sounds like fun though.

    But yes, hitting stuff until you get lucky is a very bad "plan".

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Hehehe...

    "Inquisitor, is there any hope of them succeeding?"
    "No. I trained them badly... as a joke!"
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    evisiron, that is the most awesome character idea I have ever heard of. I'm going to subscribe to this thread and look forward to updates.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by evisiron View Post
    Hehehe...

    "Inquisitor, is there any hope of them succeeding?"
    "No. I trained them badly... as a joke!"
    You know, I actually used that line in its original form.
    Last edited by Elurindel; 2009-08-15 at 11:47 AM.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by Elurindel View Post
    You know, I actually used that line in its original form.
    Awesome. High fives all round.
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    Referring to Pop Yule Ashun:
    Quote Originally Posted by CyberRebirth View Post
    evisiron, that is the most awesome character idea I have ever heard of. I'm going to subscribe to this thread and look forward to updates.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Oh you poor boy. Wow.

    I think... I think your players are the zombies.
    A long time ago, in a galaxy far,
    far away. . . .

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    In the players' defense, Dark Heresy has a somewhat deserved reputation of being highly lethal. They're probably aware of that, and expect you to drop hordes of mutant heretic Chaos genestealer exploding zombies with lascannons on them the moment they let their guard down. That's why they're trying to stay fully prepared for combat at any given second. Either tell them out of character that there's going to be a bit of investigation and they should go with RPing and calm, or drop the zombies on them and let the headsplosions begin.
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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by SurlySeraph View Post
    In the players' defense, Dark Heresy has a somewhat deserved reputation of being highly lethal. They're probably aware of that, and expect you to drop hordes of mutant heretic Chaos genestealer exploding zombies with lascannons on them the moment they let their guard down. That's why they're trying to stay fully prepared for combat at any given second. Either tell them out of character that there's going to be a bit of investigation and they should go with RPing and calm, or drop the zombies on them and let the headsplosions begin.

    Yeah...my players have played Illumination before, and that's hardly a meat grinder. I don't think common sense can be reliably applied to any of their actions. Can you explain the arm-wrestling contest, for instance?

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    An over-inflated sense of macho due to having a high strength score? Social deficiency? Pure, unadulterated stupidity? Or just bad judgment? You know them better than I do...
    Last edited by Etcetera; 2009-08-15 at 01:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by AstralFire View Post
    Oh you poor boy. Wow.

    I think... I think your players are the zombies.
    No John you are the demons.

    Or somesuch.
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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Dark Heresy Campaign
    having some more roleplay-heavy sessions
    That'd be your first problem right there.

    Your second problem would be the schizophrenic party assignment. They're characters built for combat on a diplomatic/investigatory mission. They're players expecting a combat-heavy RP-light game involved in an RP-heavy combat-light game.

    And I'm really confused how they could be sent to investigate people involved in Xenos technology without also having some kind of official clearance to be doing so. Half your post isn't complaining about how stupid they are, it's complaining about how you see the game world differently from the rest of your party.

    I.E. It's obvious to you that they shouldn't cooperate with the local authorities (Being WH40K I can see this) - but it's not at all obvious to the players why they (having an important mission given to them by... Someone, probably someone important, you never said) - think they should be able to do whatever they want based on that authority.

    It's obvious to you the... Logistic difficulties of hiding themselves under cloaks while still walking around with armor and guns, etc. That sounds, here, like a pretty stupid mistake to make, but I've seen D&D players make the same mistake. At which point, I just tell them there's a mechanical penalty to their disguise rolls, and it gets the point across in a couple seconds.

    Etc. etc. It sounds like they just started rebelling against you towards the end there. Start playing the same game they're playing, and things will go much better for you.
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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikeavelli View Post
    That'd be your first problem right there.

    Your second problem would be the schizophrenic party assignment. They're characters built for combat on a diplomatic/investigatory mission. They're players expecting a combat-heavy RP-light game involved in an RP-heavy combat-light game.

    And I'm really confused how they could be sent to investigate people involved in Xenos technology without also having some kind of official clearance to be doing so. Half your post isn't complaining about how stupid they are, it's complaining about how you see the game world differently from the rest of your party.

    I.E. It's obvious to you that they shouldn't cooperate with the local authorities (Being WH40K I can see this) - but it's not at all obvious to the players why they (having an important mission given to them by... Someone, probably someone important, you never said) - think they should be able to do whatever they want based on that authority.

    It's obvious to you the... Logistic difficulties of hiding themselves under cloaks while still walking around with armor and guns, etc. That sounds, here, like a pretty stupid mistake to make, but I've seen D&D players make the same mistake. At which point, I just tell them there's a mechanical penalty to their disguise rolls, and it gets the point across in a couple seconds.

    Etc. etc. It sounds like they just started rebelling against you towards the end there. Start playing the same game they're playing, and things will go much better for you.
    I can understand some of your points, but at the same time, not necessarily agree.
    The original roleplaying was not intended to take up as much time as it did. Thanks to the party's utter inability to actually interact with NPC's without first having to wind up their brains, or their total lack of common sense, the roleplaying went on for much longer than I or they wanted it to.
    The party assignment I had no control over. They chose what classes they wished, as they were previously their characters from Illumination, and they did not want to start over.

    Their authority to investigate people dealing in Xenos Technology comes from their Inquisitor. What an Inquisitor says is basically law, when it comes down to it.

    I never said that they could not cooperate with the local authorities. If they had mentioned that they were Inquisition, and shown the identities that they have at the very start, they could easily have rendezvoused with the local Enforcer Sergeant, and drawn up some sort of organised plan on how to root their targets out.

    I pointed out the difficulties of trying to hide their larger guns, but they attempted to justify their choices by taping them to their legs. Setting aside for a moment that that would stiffen their leg in much the same manner as a splint, taping your gun to your leg is just a plain awful idea to begin with.

    And believe me, I do intend to give them an action-heavy game, but I want to at leats have a couple of sessions where their eyes open and mouths move in concert with their brains. Is that so much to ask?

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Regarding the point about authority; An Inquisitors word is not only law, it's usually a quiet matter. It varies, but usually they'll attempt to investigate first, then reveal themselves to local law enforcement as the need arises- not before.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Or charge in bolters blazing, smashing all aside with a power fist. It's a matter of taste.

    But yes, a good inquisitor might send encoded messages to local law enforcement without revealing themselves...

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    I feel you pain mate but more then not a DM has to bend there game to the players mindset rather then trying to bend the players to his. I would say if there not into the subtle investigation thing make it a more in your face kind of investigation style game.
    Perhaps change it so something has gone horribly wrong with the xeno/illegal trade network and now the city is under martial law, a curfew has been installed blah blah and they have been sent in to sort things out using any means possible. It may not be the game you wanted but if your players arn't into it or up to it then they will get bored and you will end up bleeding from the ears with frustration.

    I find it best when starting a campaign is figure out what type of game your wanting to run then choose players who you know will be interested in playing that type of game, this can help you bypass these kind of situations.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    You should include tokens of combat to keep the players interested.
    Like have the church contain *something* that will kill them, and is merely waiting for the opportunity.

    You get both suspense, and assure the players dead things are a'comin' so sit tight.
    And if they continue to misbehave? Give them combat at severe penalty for not paying attention.

    Like when he goes to arm wrestle, and finds his hand dissolving. And then the floor! And oh my word, it's some kinda cult of chaos! Begin combat surrounded, one guy missing a hand, and in the warp.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by WristWatchMafia View Post
    You should include tokens of combat to keep the players interested.
    Like have the church contain *something* that will kill them, and is merely waiting for the opportunity.

    You get both suspense, and assure the players dead things are a'comin' so sit tight.
    And if they continue to misbehave? Give them combat at severe penalty for not paying attention.

    Like when he goes to arm wrestle, and finds his hand dissolving. And then the floor! And oh my word, it's some kinda cult of chaos! Begin combat surrounded, one guy missing a hand, and in the warp.
    Well, the thing was, I was expecting them to reach combat that session, but...well, you can see what happened.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by WristWatchMafia View Post
    Like when he goes to arm wrestle, and finds his hand dissolving. And then the floor! And oh my word, it's some kinda cult of chaos! Begin combat surrounded, one guy missing a hand, and in the warp.
    I agree in principle, but not with starting the action from that point. An act of aggressively intense stupidity should not be rewarded with what the players seem to want.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by chiasaur11 View Post
    No John you are the demons.

    Or somesuch.
    That's actually exactly the line I was going for.
    A long time ago, in a galaxy far,
    far away. . . .

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by Elurindel View Post
    Well, the thing was, I was expecting them to reach combat that session, but...well, you can see what happened.
    I really do think the best way to handle rogue players is to give them enough rope to hang themselves.
    Through in a few "Are you sure?" and a couple "I really don't recommend that, but it's your character" for extra effect.

    I don't think anyone likes dying repeatedly.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    Quote Originally Posted by WristWatchMafia View Post
    I really do think the best way to handle rogue players is to give them enough rope to hang themselves.
    Through in a few "Are you sure?" and a couple "I really don't recommend that, but it's your character" for extra effect.

    I don't think anyone likes dying repeatedly.
    To be fair, I've never actually killed my party completely. It will be a short, sharp shock, I think that will do them good.

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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    One, I envy you for being able to find a group to play Dark Heresy with.

    Two, I think maybe you should rethink how you want to play this as DM.

    In my personal experience, you can't fight city hall your player base. From the description, you don't have a single ally among the players in terms of game style, so rather than giving yourself a not-so-minor-anyeurism, you should join them in their nuttiness.

    Dark Heresy can easily be played for laughs and bloody, painstakingly described carnage. Unlike in D&D, declaring an entire town guilty of Heresy and exterminating them can be worked out as a plot point, rather than a game-stopper. Heck, they might even get a medal.

    If you don't feel like playing to your player's styles... then you are condemned to repeat the session, groundhog's day style.
    "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
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    Default Re: Idiocy in the Time of Zombies

    You may very well be right, Zincorium.

    In the meantime, feel free to take in this statement, regarding signing up:

    The Planet Ascalon, named after the Lieutenant who conquered the world in the name of the Imperium of Man, was a site of a Pre-Heresy colony that had, against all odds, been isolated from other events in the galaxy. It is a large, mostly flat world, rich in stable, mostly non-hostile life, it now serves as part agricultultural production, and part weapons testing and manufacture, owing to the built-up city and open lands, that serve to attract those interested in the mixture of high-tech living from captured pre-Heresy tech, ex-Guard tech from when the Lieutenant gained settling rights for the world to end his career on, and the proximity to the fringes of Imperial Space providing a safe haven for grey market xenos tech from Rogue Traders and suchlike.

    The local Enforcers, named Watchmen by themselves, are highly trained and well equipped, as you would expect ex-military and war survivors' descendants to be, and referred to as "Coats" by the majority of the public, due to their lengthy flak trenchcoats they wear.

    The Mechanicum has a substantial shrine upon the world, dominating the southwest corner of the city. On the fringes of known space, the Mechanicum feel it an excellent testing ground for tech that can go unnoticed, far from the eyes of the Emperor's more watchful servants.

    The Inquisition is being asked to investigate this world, as there have been tales that such technology is on the verge, if not over the precipise of, Tech-Heresy. There have also been sighting of mysterious figures at night that have been said to carry off people in the night, leaving only chewed bones, and there have been murmurs of a madness that grips those touched by the Warp that set foot upon this world.

    What you will investigate most is up to you. All you know is, you have little time to get to the bottom of this.

    Please submit character sheets to my email address, noted at the top of this thread. You are allowed 1000 xp, and your starting money, plus two months cash. All characters must be approved by myself, and storylines are appreciated.

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