A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    I don't know why it is, but for awhile now I find myself feeling sad when a bad guy dies. Not all of them. Those who are truly big bad meanies can go to Avernus. However, the random foe, the ones the party come upon, ones already dead by the time we arrive, the mooks, I feel empathy. The party could have been fighting orcs for several game sessions, but exploring a cavern finding an orc corpse killed by some creature we'll fight later and I feel sorry for that orc. Bandits, goblins who ambush us, mercenaries hired by the BBEG we interrupt bothering other people, I'm sad they're dead when it's all over.

    I don't want to get into any psychiatric analysis about this, but I wonder if it started with Meepo the kobold from 3E Sunless Citadel. When I played it he was the first "bad guy" I experienced to become a party friend. We befriended those kobolds. He wouldn't be the last bad guy a party I'm in adopts. In a 3E game a former BBEG became my advisor when my character became Duke. I've been in a party where we befriended the two goblin guards of the cave in Lost Mine Of Phandever. In a current homebrew campaign the party rescued a goblin, and he's now our friend managing our Inn/Tavern. I don't expect every bad guy we meet could have become our friend, but they're not just nameless NPC nobodies anymore. I'm saddened they were bad guys at all.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Yeah, I know the feeling.

    When I ran Red Hand of Doom for my playgroup, a fair bit of the background for a lot of the badguys described how they're basically only involved because they're in fear of their lives, and they all get treated like garbage. Even one of the Wyrmlords (Saarvith) is motivated by things other than extremism.

    So, my group went around basically unionizing the poorly treated members of the army, and even got Saarvith as a permanent ally.

    They were building their own city at the time anyway, so it was a great way to develop the city and have it be a haven for those who get motivated to extremism because of racism and other such things.

    That was a great campaign. Ended up going to level 20, and the PCs all became some sort of demigod.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    That is pretty normal. They are still imagined people and having empathy for them is something that easily happend with some immersion.

    Nothing wrong with this though it might eventually lead some players to prefer systems that are less combat focussed than D&D.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    I feel like I encounter this a decent amount of the time too, and I think a lot of the time it can spring from adventure design. Because the player characters are almost always the invaders in a dungeon, the human-esque denizens of said dungeon are often presented as simply minding their own business, rather than being a terrifying and antagonistic force. If they are actually presenting a threat to the outside world, it's usually in an abstract or off-screen kind of way. If you as a player aren't presented with any clear reasons why these are monsters, scary and threatening things that need to be met with violence, it's natural to lean towards empathy.

    It doesn't sound like you consider this emotional response to be a problem, Pex, so I won't say that there's a "solution." But if the DM isn't intending to make you feel sorry for the spear-carriers, he could address it by fleshing out compelling reasons why it's important to fight them.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    As a player, I feel the same way. I often imaging them just going about their business, trying to make their way in the world until these strangers burst in and try to kill them! It is like the set-up to a horror movie.

    I also prefer to keep the BBEG alive after we defeat them. That leaves hooks open for a GM to use later, so I do not kill most enemies. I prefer to beat them in other ways.

    This sometimes causes angst with fellow players, but I try to explain myself in character and out.
    Last edited by Easy e; 2021-10-18 at 02:18 PM.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Easy e View Post
    I also prefer to keep the BBEG alive after we defeat them. That leaves hooks open for a GM to use later, so I do not kill most enemies. I prefer to beat them in other ways.

    This sometimes causes angst with fellow players, but I try to explain myself in character and out.
    I guess how I feel about this depends on what that means:
    A) The BBEG reforms, retires, is imprisoned, or otherwise ceases causing the kind of problems that instigated the PCs to stop them in the first place.
    B) After being off-screen a bit, the BBEG is back, with a new even more evil plan!

    If it's A then great, if it's B then I'd be one of the people against that.
    Now admittedly from a narrative POV it doesn't matter - if the game continues, then someone will be threatening the PCs / their town / their world, and it might as well be a recurring villain.
    But from an IC POV, it makes a huge difference - the difference between "We made a positive difference, but the world is big and there are a lot of threats out there," and "We didn't achieve ****, and now all the suffering from the BBEG's come-back is our fault."

    Secondarily, there's the problem that if we've been killing the BBEG's non-mindless troops along the way, then it feels hypocritical to spare the BBEG. But going non-lethal from the start avoids this issue.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2021-10-18 at 03:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Feeling sorry for a villain just means you have empathy and haven't fallen down the spiral of becoming that which you fight against. It's a good thing in my opinion.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Long before gaming it was the Winkies for me. They didn't want to hurt Dorothy, but the Wicked Witch made them do bad things.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Two dozen years, eight surgeries, and a lifetime of 'what ifs' after experiencing life-changing violence IRL (plus burying loved ones, sponsoring fellow addicts with violence in their past, and of course just the daily news), I'm still trying to balance my love of playing action-adventure games with a focus on combat with a general unease regarding trivializing death. It's a challenging needle to thread and one where I don't have a consistent set of tolerances. It's what can I handle now, and when. It's one of the reason why more of the games I've developed recently (my group are copious homebrewers) have involved spiritual combat, cyberspace duels, nonviolent conflict or competition, and similar frameworks. Also a lot of 'we beat each other up, now we don't have to be enemies' kind of cultures in our fantasy worlds. Fantasy worlds are fantastic, there's no reason they have to be as lethal as any real (for example) swords and armor eras.

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    One place I see this sentiment pretty often is Shadowrun. While there's a pretty popular movement to regard low-level antagonists in D&D as individuals who live within a given society, Shadowrun has a lot more of the "I'm just doing a job" aspect. Sure, the scientist doing all the horrible experiments, he's ok to kill, because he's being evil, but the guard just wants to make rent. You don't kill the security guard unless you have to, because he's just doing his job and you don't need him dead and anyone mad at you.

    Except for the "troll with an axe". He's gonna kill everyone, because his function in the team is to be the guy who screws up the covert aspect of the mission.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Yeah, i feel a similar way. It never escalates up to full blown fights, but there's plenty of tension in one of my groups because a player there always plays murder hobos with no reservations about killing anything.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    I try to keep things reasonably realistic, in that my PC isn't a raging sociopath. If I have an overwhelming upper hand, I give the opposition an offer to surrender, or knock them out (this is much, much easier to do in fiction than in reality) and so on. I mean, yeah, it's fun to go on a Doomguy rampage and rip and tear for a bit, but it's also fun to roleplay someone who had to do that to get himself and his friends out of a bind and feels a bit guilty about all the stabbings.

    And if someone I let go once turns around and goes after me again, I get to roleplay angry guy who is now going to super stab you to make sure you don't do it a third time. Do all of the above enough times with a decent DM and your PC will start to have a reputation as well.

    If you manage to avoid needless pathos while doing it, you get a pretty good story out of your TTRPG.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    One place I see this sentiment pretty often is Shadowrun. While there's a pretty popular movement to regard low-level antagonists in D&D as individuals who live within a given society, Shadowrun has a lot more of the "I'm just doing a job" aspect. Sure, the scientist doing all the horrible experiments, he's ok to kill, because he's being evil, but the guard just wants to make rent. You don't kill the security guard unless you have to, because he's just doing his job and you don't need him dead and anyone mad at you.

    Except for the "troll with an axe". He's gonna kill everyone, because his function in the team is to be the guy who screws up the covert aspect of the mission.
    I confess, my troll does carry a dikoted combat axe, because sometimes there's a big scary, heavily-armored monster, or a door you need to chop through. But she also carries a staff, because most of the time, you just need to knock someone unconscious. IPE Concussion grenades are fun, too!
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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Torath View Post
    I confess, my troll does carry a dikoted combat axe, because sometimes there's a big scary, heavily-armored monster, or a door you need to chop through. But she also carries a staff, because most of the time, you just need to knock someone unconscious. IPE Concussion grenades are fun, too!
    There is a troll who carries an axe because it is a useful tool that takes advantage of their strengths (no pun intended), and the troll who carries an axe because they intend to use it on everything they possibly can, regardless of whether or not that's a good idea.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Can't say as I feel the same way, but a lot of my characters do. That is, negotiation tends to be the first thought for a lot of my characters.

    Now, don't get me wrong. Your average murdering bandits? Given the resources, we'll not only kill them, but their families, their communities - everyone responsible for how they turned out.

    But lesser evils, or people just in the wrong place at the wrong time, or beings just following their natures, or who have otherwise never been given the opportunity to see a better way? They'll be given the opportunity to see the error of their ways.

    Heck, the first campaign I ran, the party just kept converting their enemies. Didn't bother me, and wouldn't have bothered me if they'd have killed them all instead. I don't feel for the villains. But a lot of characters - mine and other's - do.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Ow, today's session was personally testing. Not the DM's fault, totally my issue. Party is to clear out kobolds bothering the townspeople. No question they're Team Evil. We've seen the result of their handiwork. We take care of the kobolds, only to be left with the females, children, and eggs. We would learn they were driven out of their first home by another kobold tribe. The lawful good dragonborn artificer dealt with the aftermath talking to them while I helped the fighter discover his heritage to become a Rune Knight at an altar we cleansed. I had no regrets fighting the kobolds, but the empathic gut punch was there I was glad another player was willing to deal with it. I did not want the responsibility.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Yeah happened to me the other day. Normally a Githzerai mage caught unprepared and alone would be easy pickings for a Githyanki assailant, however that empathetic response ended up in an alliance rather than a corpse which was nice.

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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    We take care of the kobolds, only to be left with the females, children, and eggs.
    Oof. That's not just you starting to feel sorry for the bad guys, that's deliberate kick in the emotional balls.

    I agree with Satinavian--perhaps you'd enjoy a system that focuses less on combat and more on relating to people. Fate is always good for this sort of thing. Burning Wheel / Mouse Guard (same engine in both), Pendragon, Powered by the Apocalypse-based games like Monsterhearts, Cortex Plus, even Exalted to some degree, all place much more emphasis on relationships and non-combat conflict resolution. And if you want to go all the way down the rabbit hole, Ryuutama and Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine are basically the tabletop equivalent of a Studio Ghibli film.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    It doesn't take much for me to want to preserve an enemy. A hint of personality, any amount of interaction beyond "mindless violence," and I start to feel bad about them dying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Oof. That's not just you starting to feel sorry for the bad guys, that's deliberate kick in the emotional balls.

    I agree with Satinavian--perhaps you'd enjoy a system that focuses less on combat and more on relating to people. Fate is always good for this sort of thing. Burning Wheel / Mouse Guard (same engine in both), Pendragon, Powered by the Apocalypse-based games like Monsterhearts, Cortex Plus, even Exalted to some degree, all place much more emphasis on relationships and non-combat conflict resolution. And if you want to go all the way down the rabbit hole, Ryuutama and Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine are basically the tabletop equivalent of a Studio Ghibli film.
    Not disagreeing with you, but feeling guilty about every orphan you create doesn't necessarily mean you don't like the game, or want to find a different system. At the very least, it means you're invested in the game enough to even feel something in the first place. A dungeon crawl style combat-heavy game where you have to deal with the consequences, both emotional and retaliatory, of killing rampantly sounds like exactly the kind of game I want to play in.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It doesn't take much for me to want to preserve an enemy. A hint of personality, any amount of interaction beyond "mindless violence," and I start to feel bad about them dying.
    That's a highly… atypical stance for a Necromancer - usually, they're trying to maximize the number of (un)dead bodies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    That's a highly… atypical stance for a Necromancer - usually, they're trying to maximize the number of (un)dead bodies.
    There may be a reason I have so many ways of bringing them back....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stonehead View Post
    Not disagreeing with you, but feeling guilty about every orphan you create doesn't necessarily mean you don't like the game, or want to find a different system. At the very least, it means you're invested in the game enough to even feel something in the first place. A dungeon crawl style combat-heavy game where you have to deal with the consequences, both emotional and retaliatory, of killing rampantly sounds like exactly the kind of game I want to play in.
    Who said anything about not liking the game? The problem wasn't even creating orphans. The problem was feeling sorry for the kobolds because they just wanted a place to live since they were forced out of their original home by other kobolds. I sympathized with their plight, and had they not been murderously evil against the townspeople they could have lived in their new home without any issue. The townspeople were tolerant when it was just the occasional theft. They got mad when the killing started.
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Who said anything about not liking the game? The problem wasn't even creating orphans. The problem was feeling sorry for the kobolds because they just wanted a place to live since they were forced out of their original home by other kobolds. I sympathized with their plight, and had they not been murderously evil against the townspeople they could have lived in their new home without any issue. The townspeople were tolerant when it was just the occasional theft. They got mad when the killing started.
    In theory, kobolds are intelligent enough to bow to practicality; it might've been possible to negotiate a peace whereby the kobolds agreed to abide by the local laws and NOT steal and murder, and to cooperate with policing of that like any good citizen. Evil doesn't mean lawless nor stupid. So trying to negotiate a peace like that is not an invalid option. Of course, if the kobolds refuse to abide by it and their victims cannot get justice, then the kobolds have made their choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    In theory, kobolds are intelligent enough to bow to practicality; it might've been possible to negotiate a peace whereby the kobolds agreed to abide by the local laws and NOT steal and murder, and to cooperate with policing of that like any good citizen. Evil doesn't mean lawless nor stupid. So trying to negotiate a peace like that is not an invalid option. Of course, if the kobolds refuse to abide by it and their victims cannot get justice, then the kobolds have made their choice.
    We were willing to talk to them, but like Han Solo they shot first. Talking never became an option until after the slaughter. I guess that's what bothered me. It could have been handled peacefully if only they didn't start shooting at us on first sight. It's totally their fault as the party and myself are concerned. I'm lamenting the lost opportunity.
    Last edited by Pex; 2021-11-13 at 04:44 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    We were willing to talk to them, but like Han Solo they shot first. Talking never became an option until after the slaughter. I guess that's what bothered me. It could have been handled peacefully if only they didn't start shooting at us on first sight. It's totally their fault as the party and myself are concerned. I'm lamenting the lost opportunity.
    I definitely get that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    It's one of the reason why more of the games I've developed recently (my group are copious homebrewers) have involved spiritual combat, cyberspace duels, nonviolent conflict or competition, and similar frameworks. Also a lot of 'we beat each other up, now we don't have to be enemies' kind of cultures in our fantasy worlds. Fantasy worlds are fantastic, there's no reason they have to be as lethal as any real (for example) swords and armor eras.
    Sounds like fun. Is any of this posted in a public place? The "to the death" default mindset is always kind of weird to me, sometimes even highlighting the fact that these must be game pieces because there is nothing worth dying for, or even getting a gash on your arm for, in a lot of these battles.

    One of my favourite characters I have ever played is Kelly, a mercenary with over a decade of experience. In one of his first scenes we see one of the secrets to his long success: Having very few enemies. In this scene a pair of assassins come after him, by the end of the scene they are helping him fix his truck.

    And theoretically this scene could have played out in the same way in a system with the same combat/social focus as D&D, in fact I think D&D even has workable versions of all the rules I used in that scene. Yeah it just feels so much more natural in a game that has shifted its focus away from reducing enemies HP to zero.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Sounds like fun. Is any of this posted in a public place? The "to the death" default mindset is always kind of weird to me, sometimes even highlighting the fact that these must be game pieces because there is nothing worth dying for, or even getting a gash on your arm for, in a lot of these battles.

    One of my favourite characters I have ever played is Kelly, a mercenary with over a decade of experience. In one of his first scenes we see one of the secrets to his long success: Having very few enemies. In this scene a pair of assassins come after him, by the end of the scene they are helping him fix his truck.

    And theoretically this scene could have played out in the same way in a system with the same combat/social focus as D&D, in fact I think D&D even has workable versions of all the rules I used in that scene. Yeah it just feels so much more natural in a game that has shifted its focus away from reducing enemies HP to zero.
    Sadly, nothing that has been formalized and written up. There are campaign notes and things on various Google Sites pages, but I some of the fellow gamers work in data security and are pretty 'Don't. Share. Anything.' and I respect that. In theory, in the future I'd like to write up a number of the things we've made (rules and rule-agnostic game scenarios) and post them or make them pay-what-you-like products. Unfortunately, I'm a guy with a TBI trying to have a full-time quasi-executive career, and my co-developer/main GM is one of those people that is godawful-brilliant, but flighty as a butterfly. We'll see what ends up happening, but until then I can answer individual questions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Who said anything about not liking the game? The problem wasn't even creating orphans. The problem was feeling sorry for the kobolds because they just wanted a place to live since they were forced out of their original home by other kobolds. I sympathized with their plight, and had they not been murderously evil against the townspeople they could have lived in their new home without any issue. The townspeople were tolerant when it was just the occasional theft. They got mad when the killing started.
    No yeah, I was saying it sounded like an engaging game to me. The other guy was recommending less combat-focused systems to remedy a perceived issue.

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