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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Titan in the Playground
     
    J-H's Avatar

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    Default Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Party not taking the king seriously? Tired of showrooms full of tittering nobles and grandstanding for the public? Scare your players with a very small cup of wine.

    Currently watching this show with my wife.


    Should start at 11 min 5 sec, but I can't seem to get that to work correctly. Watch through 19:19. Poor guy.
    Last edited by J-H; 2020-01-19 at 11:06 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    I don't think he was unusually intimidating, it's more that the magistrate showed up already absolutely terrified of being brutally murdered.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    J-H's Avatar

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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    But the king did the whole thing while being completely polite and friendly. It was all atmosphere and subtext.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    I have to agree that the only reason why the emperor seemed so scary was because the magistrate knew he was dead before he even entered the room. Most PCs wouldn't even be fazed in the slightest.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    This is mostly a role-playing issue. The Players aren't intimidated, even if the Characters should be. And poor role-players will just go "Oh yeah the King just murdered 100 babies and then beat a devil to death with his bare hands? Yeah no he's a weakling."

    A weak leader probably worries about impressing/intimidating adventurers. A strong leader probably doesn't care because the average adventurer they meet will only be there for a day or two and if they are too annoying they'll get executed tomorrow.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
    "You know it's all fake right?"
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Have to agree with Mr. beer and Unavenger. The way the Emperor is acting is only scary BECAUSE the Magistrate fully expects to be called on the carpet and have awful things to happen. If he hadn't done anything that he knew would upset the Emperor, he wouldn't be as scared* in the first place.

    Case in point: Who is more afraid of a mob boss? The one who embezzled 20 million from him? Or the one who has no reason to believe he's upset the boss in anyway?

    *Given the reaction of the person who announced him, I'd expect a little fear anyway. That guy looked uncomfortable as well.
    "That's a horrible idea! What time?"

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    But the king did the whole thing while being completely polite and friendly. It was all atmosphere and subtext.
    Which works fine for a film scene but not at all in an RPG session unless the players have their characters turn up pre-terrified per the victim in this segment.

    If I wanted to achieve this kind of dichotomy I'd have the characters keep being warned that the king that they are going to meet is a maniac but do it via unreliable witnesses who imply that he's a loud shouting barbarian type. Also have other people say that the king is charming and reasonable. Build up the tension for a bit.

    Then have them turn up in the throne room, have the king be super polite and friendly. Try to engage them in casual conversation, crack a joke or two. Then abruptly do something shockingly horrific (something so egregious that it perturbs the players for a moment) and then continue to converse in a totally reasonable manner, even though it's now apparent that he is some kind of sadistic sociopath or possessed by a devil or something. This should put the characters in an uncomfortable place.
    Last edited by Mr Beer; 2020-01-21 at 05:01 PM.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Everyone's at dinner. One of the ministers turns blue and dies. Everyone keeps eating, the Emperor chuckles and tells the ministers distraught SO that his spies indicated the minister was engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the throne. Several people turn sheet white, but everyone pretends nothing happened in the hopes they won't be next.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Everyone's at dinner. One of the ministers turns blue and dies. Everyone keeps eating, the Emperor chuckles and tells the ministers distraught SO that his spies indicated the minister was engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the throne. Several people turn sheet white, but everyone pretends nothing happened in the hopes they won't be next.
    https://youtu.be/QHH9EYZHoVU

    Quote Originally Posted by tomandtish View Post
    Case in point: Who is more afraid of a mob boss? The one who embezzled 20 million from him? Or the one who has no reason to believe he's upset the boss in anyway?.
    Mob bosses are scary because they are paranoid and operate on the “Do unto others as they do unto you, but do it first” principle. There are plenty of real life stories if guys getting whacked just because the boss suspected they might be out of line. There is no due process and discovery of evidence in a mob trial.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Mob bosses are scary because they are paranoid and operate on the “Do unto others as they do unto you, but do it first” principle. There are plenty of real life stories if guys getting whacked just because the boss suspected they might be out of line. There is no due process and discovery of evidence in a mob trial.
    In fact the whole scene originally posted very much plays out as the Emperor playing a hunch, if the magistrate hadn't been a nervous wreck or thrown some other guy under the bus he would have been fine.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Zombie

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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    This kind of thing doesn't work in games like D&D. This scene is a level 1 Expert meeting with a level 1 Aristocrat surrounded by several thousand level 1 Warriors who do whatever he says. The magistrate knows that if the emperor wants him dead, then he's dead and so is his whole family. He's completely outmatched. He doesn't have the option of scoffing at the low level king and throwing a few fireballs around.
    The Curse of the House of Rookwood (now taking pre-orders): A game of Gothic horror and family drama. Fight monsters with your family. Fight monsters with your family.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Jul 2011

    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xuc Xac View Post
    This kind of thing doesn't work in games like D&D. This scene is a level 1 Expert meeting with a level 1 Aristocrat surrounded by several thousand level 1 Warriors who do whatever he says. The magistrate knows that if the emperor wants him dead, then he's dead and so is his whole family. He's completely outmatched. He doesn't have the option of scoffing at the low level king and throwing a few fireballs around.
    Why would you assume that the emperor is low level? There's nothing here to suggest that. In fact, ever since the very beginning of D&D designers and DMs have been working to make sure that players know that assuming somebody is just a low level aristocrat surrounded by low level fighters is a sure way to get maximized energy drained into sudden total death.
    My Avatar is Glimtwizzle, a Gnomish Fighter/Illusionist by Cuthalion.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    A hereditary ruler could end up being low-level, but if they don't have decent bodyguards/advisors backing them up, they're not going to remain alive and non-mind-controlled for long. That said, heavy use of items can help with that a lot.

    I would think that in many D&D settings, meeting with what turns out to be a projected image of the ruler would not be uncommon, for anyone who isn't well-trusted.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    A hereditary ruler could end up being low-level, but if they don't have decent bodyguards/advisors backing them up, they're not going to remain alive and non-mind-controlled for long. That said, heavy use of items can help with that a lot.
    Could be low level is different than a absolute assertion that they are, as many parties have discovered when they met retired adventurer shopkeeps or hereditary rulers with awesome power. Heck, in D&D inherited power is often not exclusively political depending on your edition and class and what-not.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I would think that in many D&D settings, meeting with what turns out to be a projected image of the ruler would not be uncommon, for anyone who isn't well-trusted.
    Possible, although I don't think it would be the norm, it requires a powerful caster and they have to be willing to commit an extremely limited resource to that. If the king has a spellcaster of that level on retainer, possibly, but there are MUCH better uses for 9th level spells generally speaking, and you don't get many of them at all. Of course there are lower level versions of that trick, but body doubles are cheap, relatively easily obtainable, and you can make them look identical to you for only a second level spell slot. That's a much more inexpensive tactic, of course in settings where spellcasters of 17th level or higher are really common your scenario but be more common, but I think that the body double/alter self is more likely.
    My Avatar is Glimtwizzle, a Gnomish Fighter/Illusionist by Cuthalion.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    I meant like an illusion, not Astral Projection. An item based on Minor Image, built into a wall, could be enough.

    Or at the very upper end, Simulacrum + Telepathic Bond. That does take a higher-level caster, but only once to set it up.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2020-01-23 at 12:57 PM.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Jul 2011

    Default Re: Example of how to make a King/Emperor more intimidating.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    I meant like an illusion, not Astral Projection. An item based on Minor Image, built into a wall, could be enough.

    Or at the very upper end, Simulacrum + Telepathic Bond. That does take a higher-level caster, but only once to set it up.
    That would work, but you'd run into problems with people questioning legitimacy of orders, and the king's physical presence is a big thing, that's why people use body doubles in the real world for that sort of thing instead of just always corresponding through letters.
    My Avatar is Glimtwizzle, a Gnomish Fighter/Illusionist by Cuthalion.

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