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Krad-edis
5 November 2002, 10:50 PM
I have seen two recent threads involving the questioning of dark side points for players. Reactions from board members will differ based on how much information that is provided to them from examples of game sessions and no one will really know for sure what really happened except the GM asking this board for help.

I would like to make a suggestion to all the GMs out there who wonder about how they should go about assigning Dark Side points in questionable situations.

First off, if you feel the situation may warrant a DSP, but are not sure, don't give him or her a DSP. Instead, mark down in a log that they are "Tagged". The dark side has gained interest in them now. It is watching them. It has not moved, but instead it is in position to strike. Watch the player's moves and how they role-play for the next few sessions. Do they shape up? Or do they think they are above the dark side?

If the character shapes up, the dark side will get bored with them and lose interest with them for the time being. They can be moved to untagged.

If the characters are arrogant enough to think that they can commit evil, or questionable acts and not pay a dark price, they are sadly mistaken. If they make a dark side action, or commit the same action as before which was morally questionable again then feel free to nail them to the ground with DSPs. Give them a DSP for something which you feel is morally questionable (you reserve the right, especially after a first warning). If he or she is tagged, and they commit outright evil, give them a whopping 2 or 3 DSPs.

The dark side should not give little slaps on the wrist everytime someone commits evil. It waits and watches until the person feels very comfortable with whatever evil they are commiting, and then it hits them like a ton of bricks......and most of the time, it happens without the player even knowing about it.

Please take this to heart, and remember that this gives you as GMs two things:

1) Some real time to think about a player's actions which may be questionable without having to pass judgement right away. This is really nice, because it is fair for everyone. There should be little or no arguments.

2) Should it always be obvious to a player that they are going down the dark path? Not always. The dark side is tricky. Let some bad things slide at first but don't forget about them, and then total them up in the end. Any easy way to snare a person to the dark side, especially in D6. D6er's know that 2-3 DSPs all at once may push someone over the brink from light to dark. Pull it to where you let two or three instances go, and then hit them with 4-6 DSPs and they may be gone for sure.

For some of you GM's out there, this may sound fair or unreasonable harsh. I can tell you all though that I have had to this only once, and my players fly right from then on. Comfort, Comfort, Comfort, BAMMM, now I have them.....MWAH HAH HAH HAH.

Hope this helps those out there on such a tricky and hot topic. :)

Talon Razor 'GM'
5 November 2002, 11:14 PM
Great idea. I like it. And a good idea for a thread. Going to have to use this. Really the DSP issue boils down to where you stand on what is really evil or not. I think you really need to have almost a 'moral scale' and then stick to it. Players have their own idea what is evil or not ("Come on! That ST could have woke up! It was self-defense") and readlily want to argue the point. It really is one of the tougher problems as GM.

Krad-edis
5 November 2002, 11:49 PM
I am glad that you found it helpful Talon Razor 'GM' . I almost forgot to point out one of the main reason that I came up with this little plan.

If a player commits evil, he will pay. A player may be bad, but the Dark Side is worse. However, there is a loophole which I found very frustrating.

I hated it when players steal then atone, murder then atone, massacre then atone, and all with the idea of eliminating that one little DSP whenever they get one.

"The hell with it. I will just shoot this punk in his face and atone later."

I don't think that it is supposed to work that way. If they do not know what the dark side is doing or how it keeps tab, they are usually a little more cautious, especially after the first example of someone falling hard. It is fun to see the look on a player's face when he finds out at last that he had been skating on a dark side banana peel for quite some time. I am a nice GM, but I play the Dark Side the way it is: tricky and mean.

Codym
6 November 2002, 02:30 AM
Originally posted by Krad-edis
I hated it when players steal then atone, murder then atone, massacre then atone, and all with the idea of eliminating that one little DSP whenever they get one.

"The hell with it. I will just shoot this punk in his face and atone later."


This is why I hate the darkside - just not enough downs, too many ups, and too many escapes. There really is no way to truly discourage a character from going down the dark path , other than doing the smack down or having a one-on-one with the player.

It took me three months to come up with a darkside system for my homebrew game I could live with, but I still dislike it. It would finally be nice to come up with a system mechanic that actually discourages people from earning these points. (Have not explored the RCRB enough to see if their is an actual downside to the points, the DSSB just encreased the ups.)

Otherwise, a cool, logical resolution to this otherwise prickly debate.

KenobiJim
6 November 2002, 10:25 PM
THIS is a really great idea! I like the idea of the Dark Side sneaking up on a PC and clobbering them if they do evil. It allows the GM to think for awhile on the PC's actions, giving the PC an out by playing right, but blasting them with Badness when they fall.

One little thing we added to our game was a Quickening a la Highlander. Anytime a PC got a DSP, they would receive one unholy ืืืืืen Quickening of Dark Black Lightning. It didn't hurt, but it certainly let the PC know that the Dark Side was wise to them. It was a nice visual effect that added to the fun of the game.

Jericho_Narcas
7 November 2002, 03:18 AM
Attonement is one thing, but as a GM you can generally tell if the character really means it or not. If it's obvious that the character in question is not truly repentant, there are several things you can do.

One thing a GM can do is the next time the character pulls their dark side act -- not only do they get a dark side point, they get the last one they lost through attonement back as well (a penalty for backsliding, if you will). Another thing you can do is tell the player they've gotten rid of a dark side point through attonement, when in reality they haven't (reflecting the character's slipping moral judgement). Use their character's complacency against them.

This sort of thing might seem a bit heavy-handed, but I'd do it to a player that was abusing the attonement rules. If all else fails, I'd take the player aside (outside of the game session) and tell them -- "look... when your character falls to the dark side, he's gonna fall hard. All you're doing at this point is making a powerful recurring villain for me to use against you and everybody else later on. Do you really want to keep up this flirtation with the dark side?"

Jim Williams
7 November 2002, 03:50 AM
After the first DSP, my players have no idea numerically if they have more. It's my secret.

As a more ruthless game mechanic, if a PC ever has more than one DSP, they can never atone for that first DSP. It is with them forever, and they will have to tread carefully. I like Yoda's line that "forever will it dominate your destiny."

Ardent
7 November 2002, 07:20 AM
If you feel the desire to atone isn't genuine, you should take the Force Point, but leave the DSP. When the player realizes they're just wasting their Force Points with false atonement, they'll stop. ;)

ElfWord
7 November 2002, 09:12 AM
If I feel the atonement is false, I just don't let it work. A player of mine sometimes has to go a long ways out of their way to convince me that they are sincere, but since I'm the GM, I think I have the right to judge. I usually use house rules that give harsher penalties for using the dark side.

Fab
7 November 2002, 09:28 AM
Originally posted by Krad-edis
The dark side should not give little slaps on the wrist everytime someone commits evil. It waits and watches until the person feels very comfortable with whatever evil they are commiting, and then it hits them like a ton of bricks......and most of the time, it happens without the player even knowing about it.

Wouldn't that be best represented by giving out DSPs without letting the PC know that you did? You keep them secret, keep a tally of DSPs, and go from there. As the PC commits evil acts, they get further and further into the Dark Side without knowing it. Then one day they have gotten so used to committing evil acts that they become tainted without ever even noticing a DSP on their sheet.

That would also solve the I'll-take-a-DSP-then-atone-for-it problem. You give out DSPs in secret. If a PC voluntarily takes a DSP when cashing in an FP, then he knows he got at least one DSP. He won't know exactly how many, and atonement will be genuine. If you have a player with three DSPs and he does a very good deed for example, you erase one DSP. Of course, he won't know that he still has two more DSPs left and if he further "atones" for them, it's genuine. If he thinks he only had one and atones once, then those other two still dog him, so when he becomes tainted, he'll be quite surprised. It would be like waking up one morning and seeing your eyes more sunken than usual, teeth more yellow, skin more haggard, then it dawns on you the awful price you pay for all the evil you've committed.

Just like in real life, can you list out every single one of your sins? Do you know every one? When you committed a sin did God break into the action to let you know you sinned, and then you haggle with Him and argue about why you didn't deserve one?

Well, in the RPG world, the GM is basically playing the part of God. If a PC commits evil, he gets a DSP. No one lets him know that. There is no argument, no bargaining, no second chances. It's just marked into the Big Book. When you get enough marks against your name, the Dark Side comes to collect payment. "But wait! When did I fall to the dark side?" the PC may yell. "The first time you killed an unconscious stormtrooper you began your journey to the Dark Side, and you've been slowly falling ever since," will come the response from the Dark Side of the Force. The PC may want to know how and when it happened, but it did, and so now he must either atone (a lot) or else strike the Emperor down with all his hatred and complete his journey to the Dark Side.

Fab
7 November 2002, 09:43 AM
Originally posted by Codym

This is why I hate the darkside - just not enough downs, too many ups, and too many escapes. There really is no way to truly discourage a character from going down the dark path , other than doing the smack down or having a one-on-one with the player.

I play out the Dark Side in my games. As a GM, I encourage everyone to use the Dark Side every chance they get. I want them to fall to me. The Light Side doesn't encourage people to join up, but the Dark Side does. Everyone knows the commercials or cartoons with the little devil on the one shoulder and the angel on the other. Imagine what would happen if there was no angel trying to get people to do good, only the devil trying to get people to do bad. You'd get lots of people getting darker and darker. That's why being a Jedi is tough, you have to fight every temptation to do what everyone else is doing and go over to the Dark Side. My players know how evil I intend to be if I ever get them to join me and take their fathers' places by my side, so they know not to give into the temptation, but I don't ever discourage them from joining the Dark Side. I could always use some new NPCs.


more from Codym

It took me three months to come up with a darkside system for my homebrew game I could live with, but I still dislike it. It would finally be nice to come up with a system mechanic that actually discourages people from earning these points. (Have not explored the RCRB enough to see if their is an actual downside to the points, the DSSB just encreased the ups.)

I would like to hear your homebrew system. If you've posted it already on another thread, can you link to it? I would be very interested in seeing how you handle the situation.

And as far as downsides to the DSPs? Eventually your body becomes consumed with evil energy, you lose more and more of your free-will as you become simply a tool for the Dark Side, and if you as a GM don't want to run a dark side campaign, you take the fallen PC as an NPC. So basically it amounts to death of free will and removal of the character if the GM chooses. That sounds like a downside to me. Of course, in the interim you get police chasing you, jail time, bounty hunters looking for you on behalf of the innocents you've been slaughtering, drug lords out to get you, the list goes on and on. And if you don't tell the PC how many DSPs he has, he's not even sure how many good things he has to do to get out of it. It's like if you make a few moves on a Rubik's Cube you can get it back like it was. But if you make too many, you get in over your head and can't get back to where you started from. So the motivation is not to get too many DSPs that you can't backtrack somehow. Once you get more than you wanted to, it becomes harder and harder not to continue down the dark path.

Krad-edis
7 November 2002, 12:23 PM
Wouldn't that be best represented by giving out DSPs without letting the PC know that you did? You keep them secret, keep a tally of DSPs, and go from there. As the PC commits evil acts, they get further and further into the Dark Side without knowing it. Then one day they have gotten so used to committing evil acts that they become tainted without ever even noticing a DSP on their sheet.

That is pretty much what the tallying is, except it is not something that I really have assigned a numerical value to (As far as DSPs go, I do count the questionable no-nos and definite no-nos). I just don't assign a set number until the time is right. I pretty much weigh the dark actions on my own personal scale. If I were to tell my players that they had DSPs even though they were not marked down, this may cause arguments on game mechanics (the way it is usually done is assigning them each time something bad is done), and though I would have the final word, may cause some resentment amongst my players. Nothing is really set until I decide that they have gone too far. I can watch to see if they are evil, or if they occasionally slip. If someone is cruel, their actions will speak louder to the dark side than if someone is overtaken by fear or anger momentariliy....at least in my opinion it does. Usually the cruel and evil will continue down the dark path, while the angered person may just remained tagged to see if they want to try the dark side again. Those who refuse gain nothing and lose nothing, those who think themselves bad enough to cheat the dark side (some players don't learn), the dark side just keeps tab secretly. DSPs are visible changes in my opinion, tagging someone is sneaky and once again in my opinion much more difficult to get away from if you don't know at all if you are caught. Plus it is also the Dark Side's prerogative whether they want to hold a person to the actions or not. By giving them DSPs, you are almost finalizing it right there, and sometimes you might not want to do that......again, my opinion.

I want them to see the DSPs. I want them to see the DSPs........just before it is too late. My player who did get hit with this did take atonement seriously after a good sized compounding tally. Affect Mind while funny in games of sabaac is not a very nice thing to do. The dark side put a cold prickly hand on his shoulder (3 DSPs for several offenses). It was an actual physical affect that he felt. Yoda said "You will know"......and he sure did. He stopped doing it, and stayed away from the tables, and reflected on what he did, and gradually, they (the DSPs) went away.

For those strictly D20 players out there, D6 DSPs are almost like playing roulette. He had a revolver with three rounds loaded and decided to quit while he was a head, while he had a head still. All you need is 2 DSPs and it is realistic to go to the dark side on a bad roll, so this is one hefty way to smack down hard with the dark side in D6. I personally recommend allowing the process to go a little further in D20. Let your player show you how dark they want to be, then grant them there wish.

Keep the discussion going. Everybody that has contributed so far, thank you, and keep the ideas coming.

Iain Kysler, Jedi Apprentice
7 November 2002, 01:07 PM
One word for all of this excellent work:

NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE! !!!

I love the idea that if they get more than one, they can't atone for that first point. 'Forever will it dominate your destiny' indeed!

I also like the thing about doing nothing, then all of a sudden...

GM: Alright. That's the third person you've needlessly killed.
Player: I have no regrets. He was only a stormie. They're a dime a dozen, and easily replaced.
GM: Well I'm glad you feel that way. 3 DSPs for you.

WHAM WHAM WHAM!!!

Player: WHAT?!!!!
GM: You heard me.
Player: Wait a minute. Those first two, the smuggler and that Rodian in the bar, they were-
GM: A dime a dozen?

This could work well. I look forward to using it...