A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Jan 2021

    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    That's not weird at all. Especially as our understanding of real-world crime has evolved from "criminals are animals that need to be controlled" to "many people turn to crime because they genuinely don't have better options", it's reasonable to wonder whether all the mooks or cultists are actually there because they are genuinely bad people.

    I have a speech ready to go appealing to the mooks to either abandon the BBEG or unionize for better working conditions (that don't involve throwing themselves at adventurers they have no chance against) that I'm hoping to deliver at an upcoming session.

  2. - Top - End - #32
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Aug 2014

    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    I wrote a dungeon with a pseudo-lich necromancer (3.5 template whose name is on the tip of my tongue, it was like necropolis denizen or something) who had been a general in the BBEG's army, but when it became obvious they were encircled and losing, he went rogue and built himself a crypt/laboratory in the middle of the woods, in which he busied himself trying to perform true resurrections on his loved ones via purely arcane means (resurrection in this setting was a hell of a lot harder than standard d&d, pretty much requiring you marching your ass up to its new owner in whatever afterlife plane they went to and demanding it back at some truly exorbitant cost, and only afterwards being able to do the resurrection ritual).

    In between his experiments, though, he had painted murals all over the walls of the crypt, basically telling his life story. How his mother died in childbirth, his father was conscripted and mortally wounded and died in his arms, how he had to flee the enemy razing his village and hide in the woods. How he was taken in by a secretive order of necromancers since the practice is illegal in that nation, and found love with another young necromancer. Then how she was arrested and hanged by the city watch, and all he could do was watch while disguised. He'd lost everything multiple times to the actions of these kings and their lackeys, so of course when he was contacted by agents of the BBEG wanting to wipe it all away and start anew, he consented, on the condition he be allowed to continue his experiments to essentially conquer death. Each of the battles in the rooms of the dungeon were themed around these events; the aftermath of the battle in which his father died was depicted with ghouls and bodaks scavenging the dead, with the miniboss being one of the corpse-conglomerate style monsters D&D has several types of. The scene of his lover's execution was done with dread guard patterned on the armor of the city watch (which was particularly poignant to the PCs because they WERE originally members of that city's watch) and the miniboss was a hangman golem.

    By the time the players finally made it to the laboratory, he was there waiting for them, and he gave the typical boss speech. But it wasn't gloating or threatening, it was more along the lines of "well you've seen what I went through and why I am who I am, please, just leave me alone. I just want my family back." He was at one point epic level, but he'd burned almost half his levels in sacrificial rituals that never quite worked right, and was pretty much a shell of his former self obsessively pursuing this goal out of grief.

    He actually ate dinner with them and tried to persuade them nonviolently that he wasn't harming anyone down here before they finally said "well, the undead you're sending out are causing problems throughout the land, we have orders to clear this place out, and what you're doing here is illegal so we have no choice".

    That was a feels-hitter for my party for sure.
    Last edited by Milodiah; 2021-12-02 at 03:40 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #33
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    BlueWizardGirl

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    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Necropoliton? Intelligent undead and basically nothing else.
    My sig is something witty.

    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    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.
    IIRC there's stuff like that in Forge of Fury.

    This has come up as an issue a lot in my current campaign. The party came across a sleeping goblin guard and there was angst over killing it. If they let it live, even tied up or something, it would likely wriggle free at some point and bring down reinforcements. But it was also this harmless sleeping critter who likely drew the short end of the stick and got guard duty, and really was just motivated by a desire to eat and feel safe in the "gang." Another time, they came across a smart, capable swordsman, very dangerous, but they managed to get him low enough that I had him surrender. Threw the party off-balance entirely. They ended up killing him in cold blood because they felt they had no other choice, but they didn't like it.

    I've taken to reminding the players that bringing a foe to 0 HP doesn't mean they necessarily killed him. He could make his death saves and recover. This makes them feel better, as defeating enemies does not automatically mean they're killing them, and they could take the extra step to hit them while at 0 HP to cause death save fails. This lets them go nuts in combat without much guilt. Didn't help with the above examples, but it helps in general.

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Pex's Avatar

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    Nov 2013

    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    IIRC there's stuff like that in Forge of Fury.

    This has come up as an issue a lot in my current campaign. The party came across a sleeping goblin guard and there was angst over killing it. If they let it live, even tied up or something, it would likely wriggle free at some point and bring down reinforcements. But it was also this harmless sleeping critter who likely drew the short end of the stick and got guard duty, and really was just motivated by a desire to eat and feel safe in the "gang." Another time, they came across a smart, capable swordsman, very dangerous, but they managed to get him low enough that I had him surrender. Threw the party off-balance entirely. They ended up killing him in cold blood because they felt they had no other choice, but they didn't like it.

    I've taken to reminding the players that bringing a foe to 0 HP doesn't mean they necessarily killed him. He could make his death saves and recover. This makes them feel better, as defeating enemies does not automatically mean they're killing them, and they could take the extra step to hit them while at 0 HP to cause death save fails. This lets them go nuts in combat without much guilt. Didn't help with the above examples, but it helps in general.
    It is old school for players to kill foes who surrendered after questioning. It's partially on them for their paranoia or general not playing a Good character and partially on DMs who do make players regret it because he comes back later with reinforcements or revenge at an inopportune time for the players. Then there are DMs who tease players who want to keep a bad guy tied up saying he'll starve to death when they leave. If they let him go they tease he's alone in the wilderness, making the player feel bad for roleplaying a moral character.

    Ultimately it is the responsibility of the DM to make sure players don't regret letting a foe live. It's enough that NPC is never heard from again. I'm happy I played with DMs who had such NPCs come back reformed or otherwise no longer a bad guy. They can even become friends to the party. In a 3E game a BBEG for an adventure arc would eventually become my Wizard Vizier when I became a Duke, Honest True loyal friendly Vizier. If the DM doesn't want players to be murdering hobos, then the DM must not make them regret not being that.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    If the DM doesn't want players to be murdering hobos, then the DM must not make them regret not being that.
    I will sometimes bring back a left-for-dead enemy, but never really in a "gotcha" way. They "killed" a gang boss, only to leave him on the ground at 0 HP. I was putting together another (related) gang encounter quite a few sessions later and it occurred to me that it would make logical sense for this guy to be part of it had he survived. So I decreed that he did. By this time the PCs were two levels higher (significantly, they were now 5th instead of 3rd, which is a big upgrade). What was a mini-boss enemy was now one of the mooks, which made a certain amount of sense in-fiction as his defeat would have seen him demoted. They enjoyed the continuity of seeing him, mopped up the floor with him, and made sure he was dead that time.

    I briefly considered turning the dead goblin guard into a ghost that ineffectually haunts the PCs for a while, but it never seemed the right time to introduce him and I eventually dropped the idea.

  7. - Top - End - #37
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Fiery Diamond's Avatar

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    Default Re: Feeling Sorry For The Bad Guys

    In the campaign I'm currently in (a 1-player campaign with my brother as the DM), the DM tries to portray realistic reactions to death and threat of death among the foes my character fights and the DMPC tagalong that supports my character (it's Pathfinder, and I'm a gestalt Unchained Barbarian//Sorcerer with a homebrewed bloodline; the DMPC is a single-classed ordinary Rogue). Some highlights:

    -Lys (the DMPC) is my first foe, trying to rob a store I'm guarding. She surrenders after a single magic missile. She's stealing because that's all she's talented in and is stealing to survive.
    -I, my character being a big softy, let her go and end up buying her food and giving her a temporary place to stay. My interactions with her after sparing her end up driving the plot.
    -When we're guarding a caravan and are attacked by three bandits, one falls to the ground in pain after taking not quite enough damage to bring him down to zero from a single hit. The others are easily intimidated into surrendering and flee when allowed to. My character consults the NPCs (caravan leader and Lys) about how to handle the injured bandit and opts to bind his wounds and take him to the City Guard at the city we're heading to. He will not be executed because the law requires proof, not just witness testimony.
    -When guarding another caravan, we are attacked by four bandits - two archers and two swordsmen. They give us a chance to surrender, which we refuse. I cut one in half (raging critical). The other swordsman freaks and tries to take me down. When I bring him down in one hit as well, the archers run for their lives. When I finish off the downed swordsman (who is at negative HP), Lys comments on me being scary.

    It's actually a lot more fun to have more realistic reactions rather than "everyone fights to the death; everybody sees killing as just dandy." I don't usually feel sorry for the bad guys, but if I were ever in a situation like Pex described with the kobolds, though, I definitely would.

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