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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    ChaosArchon's Avatar

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    Default Subtlety and PCs

    So its no big secret that generally PCs have the subtlety of a nuclear missile to the face, so does anybody know any game systems which encourage it? The reason I ask is because I know PvP campaigns are a thing sometimes but it seems to me it would devolve into my mage teleports behind your character and casts power word kill, save or die, and while thats great and all if I ever play a PvP campaign I'd want it to be something like Death Note in the sense that the characters never directly fight eachother, is this possible and has anyone ever been in a campaign like that cuz to me it sounds like something which would be a ton of fun.
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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Vampire games usually require a bit more subtlety on the part of the players, when it's been well GMed

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Phhh

    “They say destruction lacks subtlety, you know what? they’re dead.”

    -jaya Ballard, Task Mage

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    You're unlikely to see subtlety in PvP unless you give them a reason to. And by "reason" I mean "consequences." You set it up so that casting magic in front of onlookers causes your head to explode, and suddenly the PCs are going to be really sneaky about how they use magic.

    Set up PvP in a society where murder is punishable by crucification and death - and where the 'authorities' are powerful enough to enforce that - and suddenly you're going to see your PCs being REAAAAL careful.

    Otherwise, why would they bother? Being subtle is a lot more work than being direct in most cases.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Just a couple of thoughts about what PvP is and isn't:

    A PvP campaign doesn't, generally, mean that the PCs get to fight each other, to the exclusion of everything else in the world. There should be plenty of distractions - external tasks, pressures, threats - to make "co-operation" an attractive strategy, at least for a while - you'll need your teammates just to survive the session.

    Then it becomes a game of "who'll be the first to break the truce", which is always fun, for values of "fun". And the best "enforcers" of an agreement or truce are not NPCs, but other PCs. If you think someone's about to backstab you, but you know that if you strike at them first everyone else will turn on you...

    And you should definitely start it at low level. Power Word: Kill just sucks the fun out of anything.

    Another option: sometimes there's PvP, but a (tacit or explicit) agreement that it should be nonlethal. It's OK to rob other PCs, betray them or abandon them in sticky situations, but outright killing is beyond the pale.
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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Legend of the Five Rings. Combat is quick and deadly, and the game is set in a society where things are often implied instead of stated outright, and offending the wrong people can mean lost honor, a duel, or even a death sentence. Characters who don't exert at least some modicum of subtlety and caution tend not to survive very long.

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    I hear that Paranoia, when run in the 'proper' manner (Not the super silly stupid fun of "Zap!" mode) actually encourages this sort of thing, because everyone's secretly a Commie Mutant Traitor, need to conceal it from Friend Computer to avoid getting zapped, and reveal it in their companions for prestige and Not Getting Zapped if it gets discovered and they don't act on it.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Any setting where subtlety is valued?
    L5R and VtM are certainly intended to be run with an amount of restraint, but they can easily be run as crude and violent as any D&D game, and plenty of D&D games can be subtle as hell. Really, it's a matter of players rather than setting or system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sartharina View Post
    the super silly stupid fun of "Zap!" mode)
    Is there really any other way to run Paranoia?

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosArchon View Post
    So its no big secret that generally PCs have the subtlety of a nuclear missile to the face...
    Fun fact: when you get a group of "nuclear missile to the face" PCs, and stick one subtle PC in among them, Hilarity tends to Ensue.
    It is inevitable, of course, that persons of epicurean refinement will in the course of eternity engage in dealings with those of... unsavory character. Record well any transactions made, and repay all favors promptly.. (Thanks to Gnomish Wanderer for the Toreador avatar! )

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    The Dark Heresy 2nd ed. Beta has a subtlety rating mechanic.

    However I think the key, irrespective of game system, is for the GM to have appropriate consequences based on how subtle the group is.
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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosArchon View Post
    So its no big secret that generally PCs have the subtlety of a nuclear missile to the face, so does anybody know any game systems which encourage it? The reason I ask is because I know PvP campaigns are a thing sometimes but it seems to me it would devolve into my mage teleports behind your character and casts power word kill, save or die, and while thats great and all if I ever play a PvP campaign I'd want it to be something like Death Note in the sense that the characters never directly fight eachother, is this possible and has anyone ever been in a campaign like that cuz to me it sounds like something which would be a ton of fun.
    If you want subtlety and PVP you want the PCs trying to jockey for position while being within the same circles rather than active enemies. Killing a fellow PC should be a last resort. There are a number of games where the mechanics aid exactly that. The ones that spring to mind are Apocalypse World, Smallville, Hillfolk, and Monsterhearts. And for short play anything by Jason Morningstar (Fiasco being both his favourite and brilliant). Vampire: the Masquerade does little to actually encourage this style of play despite pointing at it.
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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by BWR View Post
    Is there really any other way to run Paranoia?
    Yes, there is - you can pay attention to the point where there are actually multiple types of infractions and punishments, making people have to watch their back to conserve pawns while still allowing them a little bit of room to stray out of line to get stuff done. Played "Right", it lives up to its name pretty well.

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Legend of the Five Rings is what I'd suggest as well. Especially since the books outline the society enough that the need for subtlety relies less on the arbitrary whims of powerful NPCs like my experiences with both Vampire: the Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem have been. You can run it completely bluntly, but it takes some work and a GM who is in on running it that way. Or playing Crabs on the Wall and ignoring the whole society thing, though that is supposed to be horror rather than adventure.

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    One of my favorite gaming experiences was getting to play a subtle social character who seemed anything but. It was in an Exalted game; for those who are unfamiliar with the setting, I'm sorry. I am about to use a lot of setting-specific terminology.

    I was playing a Fiend who was pretending to be a Slayer. He was a 15-year-old young man who had the Malfean Excellency and used it to the hilt. He was also sent by his Yozi masters to investigate the rest of the party, who were Infernals who had somehow Exalted without making the standard bargain(s) for their kind of Exalt. They didn't really know what they were, which helped my character fit in by claiming to be like them.

    He was not particularly loyal to the Yozis despite his position in their infernal hierarchy, and he didn't really want his insane masters freed from their demon prison. But, he needed their support and help for his own goals. So he did try to "corrupt" the party.

    This largely was done Socratic-style. And he took a lot of credit for the party's actions when he had little to do with encouraging them; this party had a tendency to serve the Yozis' ends rather accidentally. Still, he did manage to bring one to make a bargain for a Malfean Atlier-Manse. And he was, by the end, the party's moral compass.

    It's amazing what being nice and cheerful and helpful can allow one to do in a party that is made up of very strong personalities.

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    One of my favorite gaming experiences was getting to play a subtle social character who seemed anything but. It was in an Exalted game; for those who are unfamiliar with the setting, I'm sorry. I am about to use a lot of setting-specific terminology.

    I was playing a Fiend who was pretending to be a Slayer. He was a 15-year-old young man who had the Malfean Excellency and used it to the hilt. He was also sent by his Yozi masters to investigate the rest of the party, who were Infernals who had somehow Exalted without making the standard bargain(s) for their kind of Exalt. They didn't really know what they were, which helped my character fit in by claiming to be like them.

    He was not particularly loyal to the Yozis despite his position in their infernal hierarchy, and he didn't really want his insane masters freed from their demon prison. But, he needed their support and help for his own goals. So he did try to "corrupt" the party.

    This largely was done Socratic-style. And he took a lot of credit for the party's actions when he had little to do with encouraging them; this party had a tendency to serve the Yozis' ends rather accidentally. Still, he did manage to bring one to make a bargain for a Malfean Atlier-Manse. And he was, by the end, the party's moral compass.

    It's amazing what being nice and cheerful and helpful can allow one to do in a party that is made up of very strong personalities.
    Let me get this right, a fiend became a party's moral compass... amazing.
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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosArchon View Post
    Let me get this right, a fiend became a party's moral compass... amazing.
    Had a pretty upstanding Fiend in my group, too. The thing is, if you've got Ebby's Charmset, you're a sly bastard regardless of how nice you are.
    It is inevitable, of course, that persons of epicurean refinement will in the course of eternity engage in dealings with those of... unsavory character. Record well any transactions made, and repay all favors promptly.. (Thanks to Gnomish Wanderer for the Toreador avatar! )

    Wanna see what all this Exalted stuff is about? Here's a primer!

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    Default Re: Subtlety and PCs

    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosArchon View Post
    Let me get this right, a fiend became a party's moral compass... amazing.
    Quote Originally Posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
    Had a pretty upstanding Fiend in my group, too. The thing is, if you've got Ebby's Charmset, you're a sly bastard regardless of how nice you are.
    Yeah. He WAS reasonably nice (if a bit cowardly), and was also (fittingly) manipulative. Whenever his questioning of the ethics/morality of their actions worked, the party tended to credit him as a guiding light of virtue. When it didn't, the Yozis credited him for twisting the party down their path. Either way, he earned trust from both groups.

    The truth was, he wasn't entirely comfortable with some of the darker things they did, but was able to turn it towards his own ends (if not necessarily good ones). And he probably DID keep some of them from doing things they would have regretted by pointing out the obvious hindsight before hand.


    By the end of the campaign, he had been recruited to the Thousand Eyes by a DB who blackmailed him into joining because the DB knew what he really was, had danced a Malfean-aspected Manse into existence (I forget what caused the manse to grow in the first place, but he was definitely shaping it with his Excellency for...reasons I forget now), was the point-of-contact that a First Age civilization that had returned from a long sojourn in the Wyld trusted to broker arrangements with Halta, and had a fake identity as one of the most happening party-throwing gods in Yu Shan.
    Last edited by Segev; 2014-05-30 at 07:59 PM.

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