A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    @Quertus:

    It seems like most of the unknown's there could be solved with simple investigation or just breaking character and asking the DM how the mechanics work to make sure there isn't a disconnect with the narrative.

    But it also seems like a lot of this seems less like the scenario itself is actually counter intuitive and more like the PCs can't be sure that it isn't.

    As the old saying goes, you can't disprove a negative. Just because the PCs can't be assured that the GM doesn't have some nasty surprise in their pocket doesn't mean they need to react to the scenario as if they did; reasonable precautions and trust in a reasonable GM should be enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    EDIT: oh, and if the target *hadn't* been locked up in a pyramid, my plan was to "assassinate" the target, Romeo and Juliet style. Retrieve and revive their body after it is disposed, no hard feelings. *Might* even work with the target in the pyramid, with the application of enough Toph… except that her keeper is known as "the poisoner".
    I love that plan!

    Although finding someone who can bring back the dead is a lot easier said than done.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    So, I tried my experiment of of switching sides and having one of my players run the encounter and I ran the PCs.

    First, Quincy is absolutely useless here. An unarmored sniper with a big loud gun is a terrible fit for a low-key close quarters mission, and I couldn't think of any plan where he wasn't a liability. I ended up wasting a bunch of spells to silence his gun, only to have the enemies focus fire on him and knocked him out in one round. Given that Quincy's player was the one who lost his temper and called the scenario impossible in the first place, I can see where he was coming from and owe him an apology. The fact that the first time around he fell in a hole without any rope or light source compounded this.

    I was able to kill the guards and the poisoner and search the entire floor without losing any PCs or using consumables. So I think it is safe to say that it is doable.

    However, the player who was running it had the boggart fill the pyramid with a bunch of summoned monsters to slow me down and then teleported the prisoner off site, which meant that the scenario was functionally impossible, and by the time I realized this, it was too late to make my escape without breaking into the consumables. IMO this only proves that a if the GM is not going to adhere to the monster's motivations that they can turn a challenging scenario into an impossible one; in this case the poisoner needed the boggart's help with his operation, and instead the boggart got him killed and made his operation a failure, so neither of them got what they wanted out of the scenario any more than the PCs did.

    In short, I think this scenario was possible, but a bit too hard, and I probably should have waited a few sessions for the players to have bit more experience (both in and out of character) under their belt first.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  3. - Top - End - #63
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Oh trust me, I know that feel.

    All I did was get involved with DnD discussion on there, expressed something that was slightly less than nice and they banned me for the same reason.
    One google search of “rpg net ban” told me all I need to know. A place best Left alone it seems.
    Martials’ concepts don’t evolve past the mundane
    High levels aren’t just lower levels with bigger numbers
    Martials have the tools they need for relevance

    Pick 2

  4. - Top - End - #64
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 week without a horror story!)

    First half of a short session:

    Spoiler: Session 4A
    Show
    August 1113

    Valentine, still curious about the lost city, decides to pay a visit to her informant. She finds her in a hovel in the outskirts of town, where there are no casinos or plantations to protect and the street gangs are the only rule of law. She is a thin young woman, with pale pock-marked skin and faded pink hair. Her real name is Terra, but she goes by Tatters.

    She tells them that she had read about the lost city on the southern shores of the misty sea in the local paper three or four years ago when the Templar raided it after discovering that slavers were using it as a base of operations, and felt that the two might be connected. Kim is incensed, after everything she had to go through to find the city that it was now public knowledge.

    Kim goes to track down the paper by reading the archives in a local library, but can't find the story, and when she goes to the paper's offices to talk to the author finds that nobody has any memory of the story, let alone who wrote it.

    Quincy, recognizing the signs of drug addiction in Tatters, asks her if she can point him to a local pharmacist, and when she nods in the affirmative he pays a visit to the dealer and spends most of the wages from the last mission on muscle relaxers to calm his nerves.

    In conversation, Tatters mentions that her home was destroyed in Umbriel's raid on Golgotha the previous year. Feur is not around to press the matter.

    Kim and Valentine go to ask some of the local Templar if they know anything about those who raided the nameless city, and are greeted by Sir Jakul and two of his comrades. He removes his helmet, kisses their hands, and supposes they are the hunters he asked for. Without missing a beat, Valentine says that they are.

    They are told that a family of Questing Beasts has been raiding livestock near the Juju place, and the Templar Lord of Golgotha, Asmon Delacuer, has prohibited any of his men from hunting them, for he cannot waste their time or their lives on tests of valor, for everyone will be needed when the political stalemate finally breaks and open war comes to Golgotha. They would like to make mantles of them quickly, before their lord hires a third party to dispose of the animals. So, they would like the mercenaries to track down and slay the questing beasts and return with their pelts.

    Valentine asks many questions about their quarry and the Templar say that their inexperience doesn't instill them with a lot of confidence, and they apologize and tell them that their hunt-master Quincy is currently taking some R&R and that they will instead direct their questions to him.

    Upon reuniting with Quincy, he tells them that Questing Beasts, commonly called owl-bears, are huge predatory monotremes, or egg laying mammals, which live in temperate woodlands. Anani adds that Templar often hunt them for sport, because of something The Emperor allegedly said about knowing he was ready to be a Templar once he had dispatched one in single combat.

    The group resupplies and heads north, to the outskirts of the Juju Place, a supposedly haunted forest between the badlands and the heartlands. Quincy is able to track the creatures by their spoor, they are not stealthy, and eventually the group finds their lair; a mated pair with their juvenile cub.

    Kim quickly constructs a palisade from timber and sandbags, hoping to get it complete before they are noticed. She manages to create a crude barricade about a meter high, with curving sides and two entrances that are broad enough for a human to pass through but which should stop the larger beasts. She planned on fully enclosing it, but the wind shifts and the Questing Beasts catch their scent before she has a chance.


    The shaggy monsters are roughly the size and shape of bears, but with large feathered heads and long hooked beaks. They bound toward the group, and Krystal and Quincy both take shots, wounding the mother and cub respectively.

    Krystal immediately hides, and Feur and Kim move to lure the male and the cub into the narrow gap in the barricade.

    The female chases Quincy, although he is able to mount his horse and keep his distance for a while. Eventually it is able to tackle him, toppling the horse and injuring it badly, but the marksman is able to expertly roll to his feet and avoid not only being injured, but isn't even slowed down.

    Meanwhile, Feur and Kim keep the other pair's attention while Krystal darts out and strikes at them. Once they begin to tear down the barricade, Anani summons up a cloud of stinking miasma in the gap, causing them to choke and scratch at their eyes. They are quickly dispatched while stunned, the cub finished by a strong jab from Feur that fractures the center of its skull, and the male by having Kim's meteor hammer dropped on the back of its head.

    The mother turns from the wounded horse and regards Anani with intelligent eyes, almost as if it can sense that she is the source of the supernatural mist. It turns upon her, leaping over the barricade and mauling her savagely before being put down by Quincy's rifle.

    Feur does his best to stabilize Anani while Quincy skins the Questing Beasts. He searches the area for a nest, hoping to find an egg to try raising, but has no luck.

    Upon returning the pelts to the Templar, they are overjoyed. They are disappointed to find that none of the hunters are experienced furriers, but still pay them far above market value for the hides.

    Kim takes the opportunity to ask them about the raids on the nameless city, and is told that they know nothing about them. The Templar haven't really been active in that region since the cathedral of Athena at Parthenon was abandoned, the Holy Templar there choosing to give up the ground rather than risk their libraries being put to the torch. The only thing he could think of would be if some high profile target had been captured and a secret foray being made into Warlord territory to get them back.

    That evening they take a trip to Sammy Whin's caravan to procure an elixir to help Anani with her recovery.

    While they are negotiating, the desiccated merchant mentions that he would be willing to give them a discount if they could do a small favor for him the next time they have some free time.

    He doesn't want to trouble them with the nature of the mission until they are ready to take it on, and Kim insists that they are free now. So Sam tells them that a small octopus like creature escaped from one of his bowls and stole a magic charm before wandering off into the desert. He doesn't think it will survive, but without its bowl it will begin to grow rapidly and it might hurt someone, and if it dies with the charm then it could attract a lot of unwanted attention.

    Quincy asks how he is supposed to track something digging through the open dunes, and Sam tells them that if they don't have the means, he can sell them a locating scroll at a good price. Krystal reads the runes on the scroll, and the sensitive members of the party can feel a winding rope of energy leading them out into the desert.

    Once they reach its end, they find it descends below them, and they begin to dig into the sand, when six long leathery tentacles burst forth and grapple them. Even Valentine is unable to take flight in time, and finds her ankles tightly grasped. Quincy cannot bring the long barrel of his rifle to bear, especially not while keeping his horse from panicking, and Kim finds that her blunt weapon does almost nothing to the rubbery flesh. Feur is the only one who is able to grapple with the tentacle and avoid being held, but he lacks the means to injure it.

    Krystal slips free from her prison and begins slicing at the tentacles, and when she draws the creature's attention, its long squid-like beak emerges from the sand and she impales it with her magical blade, causing the creature's desiccated flesh to burst with magical light, leaving nothing but hollow gray skin which blows away in the desert wind.

    They are able to dig up a small golden charm in the shape of a duck, and Anani senses powerful necromantic magic emanating from it. They return it to Whin, and Kim asks what it is, and the old man pats her on the head and tells her it is a simple charm for good fortune and long life. He then climbs about his tortoise Jorge, thanks them politely, and continues on his way.

    Back in Golgotha, there is a message waiting for Anani at the embassy; the Fabled Motherlode, one of the town's smaller casinos, has been robbed and they would like her to consult on the case.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Y'know, trying to get into the details of this, I can't help but feel some parallels to my own struggles trying to get new-school modern players to actually investigate / engage the fiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    @Quertus:

    It seems like most of the unknowns there could be solved with simple investigation
    They did perform simple investigation. But I still wouldn't know from your description of events which path(s) might or might not work.

    That's why I asked you specifically what "tests they could perform" (ie, what specific investigation steps they could take) to get back meaningful information with which to answer for themselves the question of "what letter is the GM thinking?". (Where "what letter is the GM thinking" = "which one way of handling which one path is actually the promised 'balanced encounter', rather than obvious suicide?".)

    Do note that they failed to guess which letter you were thinking. Twice.

    How do you plan to make "which letter am i guessing" a fun, solvable minigame for your players?

    Alternately, show me how you already followed the Rule of Three, and point to the 3 things you've already said, any of which should let me answer for myself, say, whether ramming the tank into the side of the pyramid would work to give the guards 0-1 rounds to gather before the party floors it, target acquired.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    or just breaking character and asking the DM how the mechanics work to make sure there isn't a disconnect with the narrative..
    You'd answer such questions? Do they know this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But it also seems like a lot of this seems less like the scenario itself is actually counter intuitive and more like the PCs can't be sure that it isn't.

    As the old saying goes, you can't disprove a negative. Just because the PCs can't be assured that the GM doesn't have some nasty surprise in their pocket doesn't mean they need to react to the scenario as if they did; reasonable precautions and trust in a reasonable GM should be enough..
    Um… yeah, it really is counter-initiative that… hold on…

    A city that overran them in an alternate timeline…

    With multiple ways of penetrating their best stealth…

    And magic and demons of their own…

    Would respond to a small force creating a homicidal disturbance in the middle of town…

    With nothing more than a "pez dispenser" response.

    It is also counterintuitive that…

    After raising the alarms…

    When planning to enter a teleport-warded fort with but a single entrance…

    Especially given the "guard arrival" mechanics of "one a round" (with only the first few rounds preceding that with a "maybe")…

    But known sufficient forces to overrun them…

    That there could be a successful response that doesn't involve minimizing the number of guards waiting for them when they leave.

    Then there's things that just aren't intuitive, like the pez dispenser or that aggroing a group with that much power without destroying them could ever be a good idea, or aren't intuitive *to me*, like how your magic system works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I love that plan!

    Although finding someone who can bring back the dead is a lot easier said than done.
    Obviously, I need to add "Romeo and Juliet" to the list of things that you don't grok. The original "death" was faked. No resurrection required. But likely to fail with someone named "the poisoner" being the jailor.

    Besides, if it had been an option, they could presumably have used the Resurrection plan in your "failure" timeline.

    -----

    (I'm going to use "strategy" and "tactics" interchangeably in this section, because I'm not actually sure which I'm taking about, and, barring a more thorough investigation, it doesn't matter)

    There's a… competitive board game one of my groups plays, where every single dominant strategy in use is one I've introduced. Yes, I'm good at that kind of thing. Yet, even so, there's plenty of things I don't grok, including things that leave my friends confused by my "RPG military strategies". They've eventually moved from "it must be clever beyond my ability to understand" to "Quertus must just be crazy". As with most things, the truth lies somewhere in-between.

    Point is, regardless of which group has bad strategy (my personal guess at this point is, both you and your players are terrible at strategy), y'all have very *different* ideas about strategy. So it's a game of "guess what letter the GM is thinking", unless you can turn "understanding Talakeal's strategic view of the game" into a playable minigame.

    Also… the "consumes 20% of the party's resources" encounter was, functionally, a TPK. In the most hilarious fashion, where the entire campaign world died, and was replaced with one where the party failed differently. In a way that the players had no agency over. Which is a separate issue. And then got berated for. Which is a separate issue.

    So, when the players guess wrong what letter the GM had chosen (and, recall, the things that you said were bad strategy, I rebutted with a brilliant "are not!" - IMO, they *did* make mistakes, but *not* the ones you called them on), they will fail spectacularly.

    That's "too hard".

    And… that's a lot of variance there between "20% resource expenditure" and "world ended". Have you considered trying to build scenarios where the wrong answer isn't quite so different from the right answer? Where is 20% vs 30% resources spent, instead of 20% vs TPK+? Where it really is just a matter of "having built the wrong game for your 'completionist' players", where they are *maybe* just highly frustrated while *maybe* being Incentivized to recognize and learn from their "mistakes", rather than suffering a complete failure completely at random whenever they guess wrong?

    -----

    You don't need to have someone run the scenario for you - you should be perfectly capable of running it for yourself. Or, heck, just handing me the math, and I'll write a program to run it a thousand times, and tell you the results.

    -----

    Moving up a level here, there's an issue of you promising "sporting" encounters, and the party failing at them.

    When they engage the rules layer, as with the Avatar of Hate, you get upset with them. When they claim that the fiction layer is impossible, you insist is possible at the rules layer.

    They can't win!

    Your setup discourages them from engaging. You should work, instead, to encourage them to engage.

    This is one reason why I told you to just hand them the rules. This gives them something to engage with!

    Have you noticed how many posters have gotten frustrated with asking you questions, and never feeling like they're getting the answer they need? I can only assume that your players feel the same way, that they're deincentivized from asking you questions.

    Not that there's ever much point to getting defensive, but there's definitely no point here, as it doesn't matter. If your players feel this way, you either have to change the way that they feel, or build a game that accommodates the way they subsequently approach the game. Either of which involves changing you (the only thing you can directly change (sadly)). Which is why I wanted you to just hand them information that the playground had already vetted as useful.

    You didn't go that route.

    So, how do you plan to get your players to engage the fiction and/or mechanics layer (choose one or both, and stick with it) meaningfully, in order to successfully complete missions? How are you going to get your players - who clearly have a different concept of tactics than you do - to not only guess what letter you're thinking, but furthermore use it to form a valid Talakeal Scrabble word?

    I already gave you my solution-slash-test, and you didn't take it.

    What's your plan?

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Y'know, trying to get into the details of this, I can't help but feel some parallels to my own struggles trying to get new-school modern players to actually investigate / engage the fiction.

    They did perform simple investigation. But I still wouldn't know from your description of events which path(s) might or might not work.

    That's why I asked you specifically what "tests they could perform" (ie, what specific investigation steps they could take) to get back meaningful information with which to answer for themselves the question of "what letter is the GM thinking?". (Where "what letter is the GM thinking" = "which one way of handling which one path is actually the promised 'balanced encounter', rather than obvious suicide?".)

    Do note that they failed to guess which letter you were thinking. Twice.

    How do you plan to make "which letter am i guessing" a fun, solvable minigame for your players?

    Alternately, show me how you already followed the Rule of Three, and point to the 3 things you've already said, any of which should let me answer for myself, say, whether ramming the tank into the side of the pyramid would work to give the guards 0-1 rounds to gather before the party floors it, target acquired.
    Do note though, that neither was a case of "guessing what the GM was thinking".

    The first case was trying to solo an encounter that the GM has flat out told them was balanced for six players.

    The second was simply making some really dumb tactical mistakes combined with having one PC who is really poorly suited for this type of mission.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    How do you plan to make "which letter am i guessing" a fun, solvable minigame for your players?
    You can't.

    Or, more accurately, break character and ask the GM if your assumptions are correct, because I would never intentionally put the PCs into that situation.

    One problem with my group is that not only do the players not ask me questions about their assumptions, they don't share their assumptions with one another. Even something as simple as "Could you please flank these guys for me?" is more discussion than they normally engage in. So even if one of the players has correctly "guessed what the GM is thinking" the other five are still in the dark.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    You'd answer such questions? Do they know this?
    Yes.

    Generally if something is a "spoiler" I ask them if they are really sure first, and if they say yes I will answer it.

    Remember though, that they do not trust me. For example, they insist that the avatar of violence scenario was caused because, even though I told them OOC what the gimmick was, they assumed that I was iplaying word games with them and tried to do the opposite.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Um… yeah, it really is counter-initiative that… hold on…

    A city that overran them in an alternate timeline…

    With multiple ways of penetrating their best stealth…

    And magic and demons of their own…

    Would respond to a small force creating a homicidal disturbance in the middle of town…

    With nothing more than a "pez dispenser" response.
    What is this "multiple ways of penetrating their best stealth"? They have zero ways of penetrating stealth. They can occasionally beat the rogue on a stealth test if she rolls really bad, but then again so can any random yokel fresh off the turnip truck. Do you mean that the one guy's mount was able to smell that something unfamiliar was nearby but unable to tell what or where?

    The city didn't overrun anyone in the alternate timeline; one person tried to do the mission solo and was taking on six guards at a time and two more reinforcements eventually showed up.

    They do have magic and demons of their own, although far less than the party itself does.

    But yeah, IMO it is absolutely unrealistic to expect an organized response within 5 minutes of a surprise attack in a setting without radios or for local guards who see / hear their comrades under attack to not try and help at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    After raising the alarms…

    When planning to enter a teleport-warded fort with but a single entrance…

    Especially given the "guard arrival" mechanics of "one a round" (with only the first few rounds preceding that with a "maybe")…

    But known sufficient forces to overrun them…

    That there could be a successful response that doesn't involve minimizing the number of guards waiting for them when they leave.
    Define "first few rounds". Because 20 rounds in an EXTREMELY long combat.

    But we seem to be in agreement here, which further confuses me. Yes, the idea is absolutely to minimize the number of guards waiting for them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Obviously, I need to add "Romeo and Juliet" to the list of things that you don't grok. The original "death" was faked. No resurrection required. But likely to fail with someone named "the poisoner" being the jailor.

    Besides, if it had been an option, they could presumably have used the Resurrection plan in your "failure" timeline.
    Oh, I misunderstood which part of Romeo and Juliet you were referring to.

    Yeah, she was already in an alchemically induced coma, that plan would absolutely not have worked without some amazing circumstances.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Point is, regardless of which group has bad strategy (my personal guess at this point is, both you and your players are terrible at strategy), y'all have very *different* ideas about strategy. So it's a game of "guess what letter the GM is thinking", unless you can turn "understanding Talakeal's strategic view of the game" into a playable minigame.
    Would you say the same thing about chess?

    Because once the mistakes are on the tactical level, that's more or less the same issue.

    And there is a world of difference, imo, between setting up a puzzle with an arbitrary answer and trying to figure out your opponent's strategy in a tactical battle game.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Also… the "consumes 20% of the party's resources" encounter was, functionally, a TPK. In the most hilarious fashion, where the entire campaign world died, and was replaced with one where the party failed differently. In a way that the players had no agency over. Which is a separate issue. And then got berated for. Which is a separate issue.

    Ok, serious question. Do you really believe this or is this hyperbole?

    Because every part of this seems to be using intentionally disingenuous wording.

    First off, a given encounter is 20% resource expenditure and will never ever risk a TPK. The mission as a whole, which consists of 3-6 such encounters, might overwhelm the party through attrition.

    It was not functionally a TPK. The party was never in a position where they couldn't escape. Although Quincy did demand that the entire party suicide despite Feur being the only one who was actually in danger of death.

    A god resetting the world to a previous state off screen could be argued to be technically a TPK, but not effectively. And I don't think anyone would ever claim as much in good faith, like for example in the first episode of Loki no Avengers fans are morning the off-screen deaths of the entire Avengers team off screen through no fault of their own when that reality was pruned because, even though it technically happened, it was not shown and in the reality we are shown they are all still alive and well (except for those who died in End Game, but that's a different story).

    Does anything I wrote actually read like "berating" to you?

    Further, you said you run sand-box games almost exclusively. Do you really not have anything important happening in your world beyond the immediate scope of the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    And… that's a lot of variance there between "20% resource expenditure" and "world ended". Have you considered trying to build scenarios where the wrong answer isn't quite so different from the right answer? Where is 20% vs 30% resources spent, instead of 20% vs TPK+? Where it really is just a matter of "having built the wrong game for your 'completionist' players", where they are *maybe* just highly frustrated while *maybe* being Incentivized to recognize and learn from their "mistakes", rather than suffering a complete failure completely at random whenever they guess wrong?
    No idea how to make an idiot proof scenario.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Moving up a level here, there's an issue of you promising "sporting" encounters, and the party failing at them.
    Is there?

    This is a game. Is being able to lose actually a problem for a game?

    I certainly wouldn't want to play a game with god-mode on. And I doubt the vast majority of gamers would either.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    When they engage the rules layer, as with the Avatar of Hate, you get upset with them. When they claim that the fiction layer is impossible, you insist is possible at the rules layer.

    They can't win!
    This may be a Quertus specific complaint.

    I put this in the same category as drown-healing and commoner-railguns. I think most people just shake their heads and laugh when their players try such things. I don't think this is regarded as a no-win situation.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Have you noticed how many posters have gotten frustrated with asking you questions, and never feeling like they're getting the answer they need? I can only assume that your players feel the same way, that they're de-incentivized from asking you questions.
    That's unfortunate. It may be true, but it takes two people to communicate, and they could try asking better questions rather than just getting mad and withdrawing.

    Like, my parents often ask questions like "Have you eaten today" when what they mean is "Do you want to get dinner?" and then screaming and yelling when I answer the question they actually asked rather than the one they meant to ask.

    It seems like once they know I take them literally it would be easier for them to just ask what they mean rather than making me play "guess what the GM is thinking".

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I already gave you my solution-slash-test, and you didn't take it.
    Which test was this again?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    What's your plan?
    Ok, so here's the thing.

    The players only fail a mission once every ~2 years.

    To me, that is perfectly acceptable.

    When my players are calm and rational, they say it is acceptable to (infact they tell me they want a much higher rate of failure!)

    So are you saying that the issue is that they can fail? Because I could solve that, I just don't want to.

    My issue is that when they fail, they immediately start acting out; suiciding their characters, screaming, swearing, throwing models, calling names, insisting the scenario was impossible, accusing me of lying to them or tricking them, etc.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  7. - Top - End - #67
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    The players only fail a mission once every ~2 years.

    To me, that is perfectly acceptable.
    With your new campaign journal and you having started over with a new group after a long time, we can actually track it this time around. So far, 4 sessions - one failed missions, two successful ones. Let's see if this becomes an outlier or a pattern before the campaign ends/is abandoned.

  8. - Top - End - #68
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    With your new campaign journal and you having started over with a new group after a long time, we can actually track it this time around. So far, 4 sessions - one failed missions, two successful ones. Let's see if this becomes an outlier or a pattern before the campaign ends/is abandoned.
    It depends on what metrics you use; but I have been keeping track for the last five or so campaigns, and have found overall success rate to be 93%. Most of those are early on in the game though.

    Based on past metrics, I expect this game to last a year or two, have ~20 missions. During that time for them to fail 1-2 missions and lose 1-2 PCs, but I wouldn't be terribly surprised with a failure rate of 3-4 missions or a death rate of zero.

    Of course, this current group's habit of declaring a mission impossible and suiciding their characters when things look bad might also skew things a bit against them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Ok, so here's the thing.

    The players only fail a mission once every ~2 years.

    To me, that is perfectly acceptable.

    When my players are calm and rational, they say it is acceptable to (infact they tell me they want a much higher rate of failure!)
    It's been mentioned before, but there's arguably more merit to looking at how many games were mostly enjoyable.
    Not every campaign will be a big hit, but pure pass/fail ratios are not the best indicator.

    So far, it sounds like you had a few good rounds, an iffy campaign that led to this current scenario, and then the pyramid was a fiasco. So far...not terrible, honestly, particularly given what you've mentioned in the past.
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Squire Doodad View Post
    It's been mentioned before, but there's arguably more merit to looking at how many games were mostly enjoyable.
    Not every campaign will be a big hit, but pure pass/fail ratios are not the best indicator.

    So far, it sounds like you had a few good rounds, an iffy campaign that led to this current scenario, and then the pyramid was a fiasco. So far...not terrible, honestly, particularly given what you've mentioned in the past.
    The problem is that I have several players who get really upset when they lose, and though the losses are rare, that still means you are going to have any given player having a meltdown every ~5 sessions and the whole group having a meltdown every ~20 sessions, which tends to eclipse the whole rest of the campaign (especially when you consider that with 5 players the individual meltdowns happen more or less every time).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The problem is that I have several players who get really upset when they lose, and though the losses are rare, that still means you are going to have any given player having a meltdown every ~5 sessions and the whole group having a meltdown every ~20 sessions, which tends to eclipse the whole rest of the campaign (especially when you consider that with 5 players the individual meltdowns happen more or less every time).
    I know you've been told this already but I can't quite comprehend why you keep playing with people like that. It's like saying that my car is good, except every fifth drive it breaks down and every twentieth drive it explodes.

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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    @Talakeal: we have a lot to discuss!

    You've done a much better job understanding me than I could have hoped at some parts; in others, there's clearly a huge disconnect (often because I've completely misunderstood you, or the scenario).

    Which is great, because there's not much grey area.

    First things first: the PCs didn't know pumpkin's personality and script, so "impossible from the players' PoV" was 100% proven by the test you ran. "What's in your notes" is irrelevant to what the players know, perceive, and can plan around. Leaving secret loophole weaknesses in their otherwise impregnable defences only counts if the PCs learn them.

    From my vantage, I think that the gunslinger isn't a poor fit for this one mission, I think he's just an underpowered character in general. In this mission, however, sniping silenced from high ground? He may actually be the *best* suited in the party for eating the endless pez.

    I really don't know how to get you to differentiate between "information" and "assumptions". So… what would have happened had the PCs' plan been to ram the tank through the pyramid wall, grab the target, and floor it? Because I don't have enough information to evaluate that strategy.

    More to the point, what facts did you use to come to your conclusion? How could the PCs have obtained those facts, to evaluate for themselves how to approach the problem / whether that was the approach they'd prefer to try?

    What facts did you use to evaluate and choose your "running firefight extraction" plan? What could the PCs have done to obtain those facts?

    You may have noticed, I'm rather "creative" - I came up with *lots* of possible approaches to the problem of "retrieve the target from slaver city". IME, most players cannot (or do not) come up with let alone evaluate that many different plans. IIRC, your players have not evidenced much ability/tendency to evaluate multiple strategies (although their dealings with the Avatar of Hate were… creative…).

    Actually, this mission had, in a way, the same problem as the Avatar of Hate: you expected them to grab and run; they, being completionists, were aiming to actually clear your supposedly balanced encounter. So, were I to issue you advice moving forward, it's to never build a scenario where the PCs *have* to run from an "incomplete" encounter when GMing for this group. Where it will be *easier* if they do? Sure. In fact, I encourage that. Once they've already won, and are back at base celebrating a job well done, ask them why they didn't just leave after X. Repeat this pattern enough, of victories that could have been even easier, and they might learn to behave the way that you keep predicting and requiring. Some year. Maybe. But don't hold your breath.

    And, again, to hammer this point home, I came up with lots of plans. IMO, from what I knew, all of them were "impossible". Choosing which of the "cannot possibly work" plans Talakeal thinks will work is the "guess what letter the GM is thinking" game. Implementing that plan successfully is forming a valid Talakeal Scrabble word using that letter.

    Your comments about organized response being unrealistic in a society without radios? There's a reason societies like that often has gongs, whistles, telepaths, flares, smoke bombs, explosives, lights/mirrors, things that can be set on fire, messengers, messenger beasts, or other means of quickly getting centralized and/or large AoE attention. And creating a diversion? That pretty well serves as a replacement to the above, guaranteeing that the guards are on alert, and killing the chances of diplomatic attempts to obtain the target / maneuver the guards / gather intel (which, note, your group attempted).

    20 round may be an extremely long combat, but it's an extremely short "search the pyramid". Iirc, the Demon led the guards on a chase for minutes - that's 10s of rounds right there. And don't forget the pumpkin head poisoner boss fight, plus however long they dither discussing how to carry the target, whether to loot the bodies / room, whether to bring the bodies, whether to release the rest of the prisoners, etc. By your mechanics, literally thousands if not tens of thousands of guards could have concerned on the pyramid by the time many of my groups were done debating. (OK, fine, your group has the opposite problem. Good for them. They could maybe actually clear your encounter.)

    -----

    There's a lot more, but let's start there.

    Also… actually… in a hypothetical scenario, Quertus (my signature academia mage for whom this account is named) was intrigued by the Federation's transporters, and their transhumanist disregard for life, where they would kill their crew, and recreate a facsimile of them at the destination. I hold a not dissimilar view, where, yes, your examples involve lots of death. I know it's not a common stance, but, yes, it is my take on things, that they suffered a TPK.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-09-28 at 01:57 PM.

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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    @Quertus: Were you being sarcastic about running a computer simulation of an encounter? Because that idea kind of boggles my mind, even things as simple as positioning and targeting boggle my mind, let alone spell effects and similar variables.

    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    I know you've been told this already but I can't quite comprehend why you keep playing with people like that. It's like saying that my car is good, except every fifth drive it breaks down and every twentieth drive it explodes.
    Partly it is because it is really hard to find players, especially players who will let you GM or who will play a system that isn't D&D, let alone homebrew.

    But its also because I am used to that sort of environment; I have been playing with some of these people for decades, and my group is a lot better than some of I have been in in the past; and they are certainly less temperamental than playing board games with my family, my WoW guild, or even the guys at the local Games Workshop store.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    From my vantage, I think that the gunslinger isn't a poor fit for this one mission, I think he's just an underpowered character in general. In this mission, however, sniping silenced from high ground? He may actually be the *best* suited in the party for eating the endless pez.
    Technically, he isn't really a gunslinger, more of a sharpshooter.

    He is a fine character if he can just sit across the battlefield plonking away at enemies from horseback; but any job that involves stealth or close quarters is going to be tough for him.

    Lack of armor, lack of melee, and skills sunk into horsemanship are all big liabilities in a dungeon.

    In this particular case, I couldn't think of a way that would allow him to attack, remain undetected, and escape that wouldn't eat up more of his companion's mana than it was worth, especially not using the same approach they did.



    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I really don't know how to get you to differentiate between "information" and "assumptions". So… what would have happened had the PCs' plan been to ram the tank through the pyramid wall, grab the target, and floor it? Because I don't have enough information to evaluate that strategy.
    Ask.

    In this case, if anyone with knowledge of architecture or engineering looked at the pyramid, I would tell them that the grade is too steep and the juggernaut too heavy, and the likely result would be it crashing through and becoming stuck in one of the lower levels.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    What facts did you use to evaluate and choose your "running firefight extraction" plan? What could the PCs have done to obtain those facts?

    And, again, to hammer this point home, I came up with lots of plans. IMO, from what I knew, all of them were "impossible". Choosing which of the "cannot possibly work" plans Talakeal thinks will work is the "guess what letter the GM is thinking" game. Implementing that plan successfully is forming a valid Talakeal Scrabble word using that letter.
    They did everything they could to ascertain what they needed to know; it took a while but they really did their homework this time.

    What baffles me is how they disprove a negative, i.e. the "how do we know they don't have X, Y, or Z?" or how that doesn't apply to every scenario.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Actually, this mission had, in a way, the same problem as the Avatar of Hate: you expected them to grab and run; they, being completionists, were aiming to actually clear your supposedly balanced encounter. So, were I to issue you advice moving forward, it's to never build a scenario where the PCs *have* to run from an "incomplete" encounter when GMing for this group. Where it will be *easier* if they do? Sure. In fact, I encourage that. Once they've already won, and are back at base celebrating a job well done, ask them why they didn't just leave after X. Repeat this pattern enough, of victories that could have been even easier, and they might learn to behave the way that you keep predicting and requiring. Some year. Maybe. But don't hold your breath.
    Pretty much, yeah.

    Any encounter they can't win by hitting the bad guy as hard as they can until it stops moving gives them a lot of trouble.

    Reinforcements, hit and run, regenerating enemies, hostages, mind controlled enemies, self buffing enemies, things which are immune to their weapons, all are frequent sources of horror stories; I don't use them often, but when I do my players invariably get tripped up.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Your comments about organized response being unrealistic in a society without radios? There's a reason societies like that often has gongs, whistles, telepaths, flares, smoke bombs, explosives, lights/mirrors, things that can be set on fire, messengers, messenger beasts, or other means of quickly getting centralized and/or large AoE attention. And creating a diversion? That pretty well serves as a replacement to the above, guaranteeing that the guards are on alert, and killing the chances of diplomatic attempts to obtain the target / maneuver the guards / gather intel (which, note, your group attempted).
    Ok, but how do they know that they need to get to the pyramid? Or how fast and with what forces?

    The thing is, you (and apparently my players) have it in their head that the NPC's goal is to kill the PCs when it actually was to protect the poisoner until he finishes his operation. Teleporting Ashley away and having the poisoner rush outside and start attacking are completely counter-productive from an RP perspective.

    I agree that creating a diversion, atleast publicly, is best done after recon / diplomancy is done.



    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    20 round may be an extremely long combat, but it's an extremely short "search the pyramid". Iirc, the Demon led the guards on a chase for minutes - that's 10s of rounds right there. And don't forget the pumpkin head poisoner boss fight, plus however long they dither discussing how to carry the target, whether to loot the bodies / room, whether to bring the bodies, whether to release the rest of the prisoners, etc. By your mechanics, literally thousands if not tens of thousands of guards could have concerned on the pyramid by the time many of my groups were done debating. (OK, fine, your group has the opposite problem. Good for them. They could maybe actually clear your encounter.)
    Yeah, sending Krystal in alone was a doomed plan from the start. Totally agree with you. All she was doing was treading water while the reinforcements had time to gather. Still; she almost made it, did a lot better than what I would have said.

    But they know the alarm has been raised and reinforcements are coming; if you still spend thousands or rounds debating that is really on you imo.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Also… actually… in a hypothetical scenario, Quertus (my signature academia mage for whom this account is named) was intrigued by the Federation's transporters, and their transhumanist disregard for life, where they would kill their crew, and recreate a facsimile of them at the destination. I hold a not dissimilar view, where, yes, your examples involve lots of death. I know it's not a common stance, but, yes, it is my take on things, that they suffered a TPK.
    Ok, sure. But I don't think it would be fair to call a session of the Star Trek RPG a TPK just because they used the transporter to get down to the planet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    But its also because I am used to that sort of environment; I have been playing with some of these people for decades, and my group is a lot better than some of I have been in in the past; and they are certainly less temperamental than playing board games with my family, my WoW guild, or even the guys at the local Games Workshop store.
    You've mentioned that before and it continues to baffle me. Any group being like yours is sort of shocking but I'm not really surprised that such groups do exist (even if I'm lucky enough to have never been in one anywhere close to it) but a majority being like that or worse? I have a fairly dim view of humanity in general but that's just sad. At least my experience seem a lot more common than yours, even if that obviously doesn't make it any better for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Ok, sure. But I don't think it would be fair to call a session of the Star Trek RPG a TPK just because they used the transporter to get down to the planet.
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    It's only creepy if you believe in persistent consciousness - so I guess the Federation doesn't.

    Edit: But then if they don't, why do people ever die on away missions? Just keep their data saved and restore from it necessary. Not too unusual for a fictional setting to have an inconsistency though.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-09-28 at 05:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    It's only creepy if you believe in persistent consciousness - so I guess the Federation doesn't.

    Edit: But then if they don't, why do people ever die on away missions? Just keep their data saved and restore from it necessary. Not too unusual for a fictional setting to have an inconsistency though.
    In a bunch of TOS novels I read there was no deconstruction reconstruction. The particles that made a person were turned into waves and picked up by the transporter. In the show they even talked on screen about stabilizing the waveform.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    It's only creepy if you believe in persistent consciousness - so I guess the Federation doesn't.

    Edit: But then if they don't, why do people ever die on away missions? Just keep their data saved and restore from it necessary. Not too unusual for a fictional setting to have an inconsistency though.
    It wouldn't be quite as inconsistent if there weren't episodes where just that is done to fix the problem of the week; usually one caused by a transporter malfunction in the first place, but still...

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal
    Technically, he isn't really a gunslinger, more of a sharpshooter.

    He is a fine character if he can just sit across the battlefield plonking away at enemies from horseback; but any job that involves stealth or close quarters is going to be tough for him.

    Lack of armor, lack of melee, and skills sunk into horsemanship are all big liabilities in a dungeon.

    In this particular case, I couldn't think of a way that would allow him to attack, remain undetected, and escape that wouldn't eat up more of his companion's mana than it was worth, especially not using the same approach they did.
    What's the tech level on the sharpshooter's gun? How far away could he be from the enemy? Even WW1 snipers could reliably hit targets at a distance of several hundred meters (i.e. the enemy trench); more modern rifles can hit targets over a mile away. Your sharpshooter might not even need to enter the city, but find a vantage point outside. Even better, find several and switch locations after a few rounds so the enemy can't triangulate their position.
    That's why Quertus said the sharpshooter might be the most suited to that situation; he can pick off reinforcements at low to no risk to himself, especially if the enemy is not familiar with guns.

    Also, why does a sharpshooter of all people lack stealth? Hiding to wait for a good shot is part of what he's supposed to do. It feels like both you and the player are treating a sniper more like a gunslinger from a cowboy movie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I really want to try having one of my players run me through the same scenario this weekend to see how it goes and troubleshoot it, but its hard to do without, again, looking like I am trying to prove myself the superior gamer and rub their failures in their face. The only problem with this, and it is one I am not quite sure how to handle, is how seriously the players take the encounter.

    I don't see why you say I would not have been able to complete it, what gives you that impression?
    Seriously, don’t do this. It is worse than useless, it is actively detrimental.

    Of course you are going to blow through this scenario! You have perfect knowledge of what the city’s defenses are! You have the benefit of having thought about what you would do for two weeks! You have the benefit of knowing what WON’T work since the players have given you two examples of failed attempts.

    Also, as a single player, you have the benefit of greater coordination that the party could ever have.
    Last edited by patchyman; 2021-09-29 at 09:54 AM.

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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by patchyman View Post
    Seriously, don’t do this. It is worse than useless, it is actively detrimental.

    Of course you are going to blow through this scenario! You have perfect knowledge of what the city’s defenses are! You have the benefit of having thought about what you would do for two weeks! You have the benefit of knowing what WON’T work since the players have given you two examples of failed attempts.

    Also, as a single player, you have the benefit of greater coordination that the party could ever have.
    Well, I already ran it, and I disagree. I think it proved to me that it wasn't "impossible" but at the same time showed me how it was more difficult than intended and why the players were frustrated with it.

    Note that the players already had two weeks to think about it as the previous session they had done all of the intelligence gathering, then tried soloing the scenario, and then rewound time to let them have a do over with the full time.

    I also used the exact same approach that the party did; as I agree that simply doing something else using my superior knowledge wouldn't prove anything. As a rule, I always balance encounters assuming a direct approach as 90% of the time that is what the party will use.


    I am not quite sure I agree with the idea that a single player is better than a time. I hear it often, but I have trouble believing that communication is so bad in the average group that it completely undoes all of the advantages of having five people working together to come up with and analyze solutions and to notice things. I actually started a thread about this a few months ago.

    But yeah, if the group's communication really is that bad, then they really need to work on their teamwork; which doesn't actually do anything to disprove the premise that the scenario isn't impossible the players are just making tactical mistakes.


    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    What's the tech level on the sharpshooter's gun? How far away could he be from the enemy? Even WW1 snipers could reliably hit targets at a distance of several hundred meters (i.e. the enemy trench); more modern rifles can hit targets over a mile away. Your sharpshooter might not even need to enter the city, but find a vantage point outside. Even better, find several and switch locations after a few rounds so the enemy can't triangulate their position.
    That's why Quertus said the sharpshooter might be the most suited to that situation; he can pick off reinforcements at low to no risk to himself, especially if the enemy is not familiar with guns.

    Also, why does a sharpshooter of all people lack stealth? Hiding to wait for a good shot is part of what he's supposed to do. It feels like both you and the player are treating a sniper more like a gunslinger from a cowboy movie.
    Old west.

    Those long range shots are seldom made under battlefield conditions, they are generally made against stationary targets. And there have only been ~10 recorded kills at ranges of over a mile in human history, hardly reliable.

    The problem with that strategy is finding clear lines of fire and then managing his escape afterward. If they had, say, put him up on a cliff face, he would have been able to shoot the reinforcements; but he would have been suffering a range penalty and been completely unable to assist with anyone inside the pyramid, and they further would have had to come up with a plan to retreive him afterwards. It wouldn't have been a bad strategy, but it was one with some drawbacks and at the end of the day it wasn't the one that the party went with.


    The character is built as a cavalry soldier, and his backstory is that he was a dragoon in the military. He isn't really a sniper or gunslinger, rather he is built to "kite" enemies at long range. Which is a fine build (although I would personally give him some sort of armor and backup close combat weapon), just one that is far better on open battlefields than in undercover urban missions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Daily Reminder that this is why you use the warping space explanation for teleporters and not the particle deconstruction thing that leads to existentialist dread and horror.
    I do use the warped space explanation in my personal setting.

    But the horror is still present as PC's minds can be copied through other means; some of them naturally occurring due to the nature of reality and time travel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    Also, why does a sharpshooter of all people lack stealth? Hiding to wait for a good shot is part of what he's supposed to do. It feels like both you and the player are treating a sniper more like a gunslinger from a cowboy movie.
    I'd say sharpshooter /= sniper...at least, it doesn't have to mean sniper.

    @ Talakeal:

    One of the things I believe I saw was you saying the defenses of the city were not set...that you establish them somewhat post hoc. If that is the case, even if it is to respond to the PCs plans to make them possible, I really recommend you don't. Clearly establish the parameters of the guards, the patrols routes and schedules, how they respond to issues, the obstacles, etc. Allow the PCs a chance to learn that through observation. Hold to what you established and do not have the parameters change. Give the PCs the opportunity to exploit the weaknesses and use those patterns against the defenders. It feels more fair, it provides a more even field, and gives them satisfaction if their plan works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    One of the things I believe I saw was you saying the defenses of the city were not set...that you establish them somewhat post hoc. If that is the case, even if it is to respond to the PCs plans to make them possible, I really recommend you don't. Clearly establish the parameters of the guards, the patrols routes and schedules, how they respond to issues, the obstacles, etc. Allow the PCs a chance to learn that through observation. Hold to what you established and do not have the parameters change. Give the PCs the opportunity to exploit the weaknesses and use those patterns against the defenders. It feels more fair, it provides a more even field, and gives them satisfaction if their plan works.
    Mapping out an entire city would take a long freaking time; way more work than I am willing to put into a single encounter.

    But no, the defenses of the pyramid were not host-hoc or built to counter the PCs.

    There were three guards outside, four guards inside.

    There were random guards throughout the city, and each turn I gave the closest one a roll to take notice of the pyramid. (cumulative 5% modified by how much noise the PCs were making.)

    This was written down long before the PCs were even aware of the mission.

    If the players had taken an indirect approach or done something dramatic to modify the chance of guards being able to notice / respond to them, I would have taken that into account.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Mapping out an entire city would take a long freaking time; way more work than I am willing to put into a single encounter.

    But no, the defenses of the pyramid were not host-hoc or built to counter the PCs.

    There were three guards outside, four guards inside.

    There were random guards throughout the city, and each turn I gave the closest one a roll to take notice of the pyramid. (cumulative 5% modified by how much noise the PCs were making.)

    This was written down long before the PCs were even aware of the mission.

    If the players had taken an indirect approach or done something dramatic to modify the chance of guards being able to notice / respond to them, I would have taken that into account.
    Certainly didn't mean mapping the city to any great degree...just things like identifying the guard houses, where and how they patrol, gates/gate guards, response time to respond to issues. Greater detail in the relevant area (call it 3 or 4 blocks). Would take no more than 10 minutes to sketch out and explain to the players...if they attempt to learn the information.

    My immediate thought would have been arranging a distraction in some part of the city to draw off attention...but only if I have evidence it would work. Regardless, I would certainly "case" the place first, and that only works if the defenses are arranged ahead of time and demonstrably consistent.

    That's the kind of simplistic information/plan that works for a "heist" in a non-heist game like D&D or analogues. Next time there is a tactical challenge, be sure you've built it reasonably and then give the players incentive/chance to see how it works before they have to engage it.

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  24. - Top - End - #84
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Two things for now:

    1) Talakeal, try looking at it this way: your players are tactical geniuses who did everything right based on the information they had. Now, try and figure out how you can change the campaign (sadly, the only thing you can change, unless you have access to Mindrape IRL) such that they get different information.

    2) I asked my Evil overlord mandated 5-year-old advisor substitutes about this puzzle. Their responses were… interesting. Despite having no concept of the group's capabilities, they suggested…

    Scout out the bugs. Learn how they patrol, how they think.

    They're slavers? So they like slaves? Find someone we don't like, enslave them, and trade them for the hostage.

    … how important is the hostage? Consider trading myself for the hostage (kudos to the future Paladin!!!).

    Can we get a lot of <potions> to <Polymorph> them (into "real" bugs)?

    Are they affected by <pheromones>? Can we control / manipulate them that way?

    Sneak in, at night, silently assassinate anyone necessary, sneak target out. (Not unlike the demon solo plan)

    (If only we had something like) a giant cannon, to launch a <giant hollow sphere> into the pyramid, <magic> the target inside somehow… and then get the sphere out (series of inventive exit strategies). (When they found out about the "tank", they liked it)

  25. - Top - End - #85
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Had another session this weekend. It went ok, short and simple. From a combat balance perspective it was a walk in the park for the PCs (although they still decided it was hopeless at one point and wanted to give up).

    Very frustrating session for me though, as it was one of those analysis paralysis situations where the players spent six hours coming up with workable plans and then dismissing them for one reason or another, until everyone (mostly me) was very bored and frustrated.

    Will post a full write-up in the next day or two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Two things for now:

    1) Talakeal, try looking at it this way: your players are tactical geniuses who did everything right based on the information they had. Now, try and figure out how you can change the campaign (sadly, the only thing you can change, unless you have access to Mindrape IRL) such that they get different information.

    2) I asked my Evil overlord mandated 5-year-old advisor substitutes about this puzzle. Their responses were… interesting. Despite having no concept of the group's capabilities, they suggested…

    Scout out the bugs. Learn how they patrol, how they think.

    They're slavers? So they like slaves? Find someone we don't like, enslave them, and trade them for the hostage.

    … how important is the hostage? Consider trading myself for the hostage (kudos to the future Paladin!!!).

    Can we get a lot of <potions> to <Polymorph> them (into "real" bugs)?

    Are they affected by <pheromones>? Can we control / manipulate them that way?

    Sneak in, at night, silently assassinate anyone necessary, sneak target out. (Not unlike the demon solo plan)

    (If only we had something like) a giant cannon, to launch a <giant hollow sphere> into the pyramid, <magic> the target inside somehow… and then get the sphere out (series of inventive exit strategies). (When they found out about the "tank", they liked it)
    Some of those might work, others less well.

    The problem with the hostage is (possible spoilers for my game, but at this point w/e) that they need someone who is both of royal blood and also a potent sorcerer to awaken the undead army. The poisoner knows this, as do his masters, so he is unlikely to exchange her for another slave unless the PCs can somehow make him an offer he can't refuse.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  26. - Top - End - #86
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Had another session this weekend. It went ok, short and simple. From a combat balance perspective it was a walk in the park for the PCs (although they still decided it was hopeless at one point and wanted to give up).

    Very frustrating session for me though, as it was one of those analysis paralysis situations where the players spent six hours coming up with workable plans and then dismissing them for one reason or another, until everyone (mostly me) was very bored and frustrated.

    Will post a full write-up in the next day or two.

    .
    Considering their last venture ended in total disaster because they did insufficient planning, they are doing exactly what you’ve trained them to do.

  27. - Top - End - #87
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Considering their last venture ended in total disaster because they did insufficient planning, they are doing exactly what you’ve trained them to do.
    Actually, no. I thought they did pretty decent planning last session. They did a lot of reconnaissance and discussed their strategy before hand; their mistakes were mostly on a tactical round to round level.

    Honestly, IMO the problems with this group is more about following through on their preparation rather than a lack of preparation in the first place. They either reject perfectly good plans over and over, as they did this session, or simply abandon the plan once the action starts.

    On a more fundamental level, yes, I agree, over-reaction to failure and assuming that the failure was intentional on the DM's part is very much in keeping with my players.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  28. - Top - End - #88
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Actually, no. I thought they did pretty decent planning last session. They did a lot of reconnaissance and discussed their strategy before hand; their mistakes were mostly on a tactical round to round level.

    Honestly, IMO the problems with this group is more about following through on their preparation rather than a lack of preparation in the first place. They either reject perfectly good plans over and over, as they did this session, or simply abandon the plan once the action starts.

    On a more fundamental level, yes, I agree, over-reaction to failure and assuming that the failure was intentional on the DM's part is very much in keeping with my players.
    On what grounds do they usually reject their plans? Do they think the plans are not good enough? How do they react when someone points out a flaw in a plan? Do they discard the plan outright or do they try to modify the plan to take the flaw into account? How often do you take advantage of flaws in their plans and will you point that out afterwards?

    As for abandoning the plan, that sounds like you're missing someone who will coordinate the group during the action, and the players on their own are not willing and/or able to view their actions as part of the greater team effort. Not much you can do there, unless one of the players steps up and assumes that role.
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  29. - Top - End - #89
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Had another session this weekend. It went ok, short and simple. From a combat balance perspective it was a walk in the park for the PCs (although they still decided it was hopeless at one point and wanted to give up).

    Very frustrating session for me though, as it was one of those analysis paralysis situations where the players spent six hours coming up with workable plans and then dismissing them for one reason or another, until everyone (mostly me) was very bored and frustrated.

    Will post a full write-up in the next day or two.



    Some of those might work, others less well.

    The problem with the hostage is (possible spoilers for my game, but at this point w/e) that they need someone who is both of royal blood and also a potent sorcerer to awaken the undead army. The poisoner knows this, as do his masters, so he is unlikely to exchange her for another slave unless the PCs can somehow make him an offer he can't refuse.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Considering their last venture ended in total disaster because they did insufficient planning, they are doing exactly what you’ve trained them to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Actually, no. I thought they did pretty decent planning last session. They did a lot of reconnaissance and discussed their strategy before hand; their mistakes were mostly on a tactical round to round level.

    Honestly, IMO the problems with this group is more about following through on their preparation rather than a lack of preparation in the first place. They either reject perfectly good plans over and over, as they did this session, or simply abandon the plan once the action starts.

    On a more fundamental level, yes, I agree, over-reaction to failure and assuming that the failure was intentional on the DM's part is very much in keeping with my players.
    Again, hand them the rules during the planning phase, treat combat like a war game, and see if this behavior goes away.

    Wait a minute - you play war games, don't you? Are they like this there, too?

    Also, I'll reiterate the "boxed text", better by the Playground and read by someone else.

    Lastly… how did they even know / suspect that the orphan hostage was nobility, to value her so?

    EDIT: I don't think that that's "analysis paralysis", so much as… "trained behavior".
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-10-07 at 08:10 AM.

  30. - Top - End - #90
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    Default Re: Talakeal's Campaign Diary (1 Day without a horror story!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    On what grounds do they usually reject their plans? Do they think the plans are not good enough? How do they react when someone points out a flaw in a plan? Do they discard the plan outright or do they try to modify the plan to take the flaw into account? How often do you take advantage of flaws in their plans and will you point that out afterwards?
    Most of the time they simply propose a plan, agree it would work, but then rather than implementing it immediately start brainstorming further plans and then forget about it entirely. Repeat for several hours until everyone (mostly me) is bored and frustrated.

    If I point out a flaw in their plan they erupt at me for criticizing them and then discard the plan entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morgaln View Post
    As for abandoning the plan, that sounds like you're missing someone who will coordinate the group during the action, and the players on their own are not willing and/or able to view their actions as part of the greater team effort. Not much you can do there, unless one of the players steps up and assumes that role.
    Absolutely. Nobody wants to play a leadership role in or out of character.

    In fact, they always take an NPC cohort to handle the "party leader / party face" roll because none of them want to do it but they feel "entitled" to the buffs such a character would provide.

    I am not really sure if they quite grok the connection though; they insist it is super boring to "sit in the back singing" not realizing that leader type characters should be doing a lot OOC to coordinate the party.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Lastly… how did they even know / suspect that the orphan hostage was nobility, to value her so?
    I don't know precisely, it wasn't really relevant to the scenario. They have been studying the pyramid for ~70 years and have been scanning all the slaves that came through the markets. Maybe blood testing, maybe aura reading, maybe tasting pheremones, maybe divination, maybe consulting with spirits; the exact method wasn't really important and not something the PCs were likely to discover.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    EDIT: I don't think that that's "analysis paralysis", so much as… "trained behavior".
    I just don't see it.

    They succeed at the vast majority of missions without any sort of planning at all. And the ~7% of missions they do fail are rarely failed because of lack of planning. I mean, yeah, you could say they have serious loss aversion issues, but that's like saying that blackjack players are "trained" to stand on a 12 when the dealer has a ten showing because sometimes they go bust.

    The problem is almost never lack of planning, but rather a lack of communication and follow through on the turn to turn level.

    Take for example the Avatar of Violence encounter. They had a perfectly workable plan there; send someone in to grab the artifact while the rest of the party distracted the avatar, have them run, then use haste spells to move the rest of the party out of the room and have the mage seal the door. Would have worked great (assuming passable dice rolls). But then Bob decided to cast a DoT on the avatar that would assure it would split because he "forgot the plan" and then Sara attacked the avatar with the artifact rather than running because "I was obviously playing word games OOC and trying to trick them", and turned the whole operation into a TPK poop-show.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Wait a minute - you play war games, don't you? Are they like this there, too?
    Depends on what you mean by "like this".

    Brian is the only war-game player in the group, and he tends to act out significantly more often in war-games. I have seen Bob and Johnny have more than their fair share of meltdowns when play video games however.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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