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LiquidSaber
16 July 2002, 12:56 AM
Well I just wanted to bring up a point of roleplaying that has my mind tied up into a knot.

How do other GM's handle character deaths?
Inherently character deaths (if fairly common) seems to discourage player/character attachment and hence roleplaying their characters.

This means that in order to promote good roleplaying from our players (which of course as GMs is what we are looking for), we must refrain from PCs being killed on a regular basis.

While my goals inculde fostering shining examples of roleplaying from my players I feel the need for a realistic game setting as vital for the sort of atmosphere and game experience I wish my players to enjoy.

So I am at a cross roads.

This whole argument in my head recently came up when a lone PC blundered into an NPC's well laid trap. Unfortunately the PC stood his ground and fought the high level NPC. After a brief fight the PC ended up dead with the NPC near dead. On top of that a second PC raced to the rescue of the first (already weakened by earlier fighting) and got himself hacked by the dangerous and high level NPC.

The whole while the other separated PCs were away. There was not much I could do to prevent the situation as I already had the NPC set-up the situation. It was a risk for the NPC as it was an all or nothing event that could have just as easily ended up trapped by the other PCs if things had gone the other way.

Nonetheless my players were understandably upset as the first lone PC was really attached to his character and felt somewhat goaded into entering the PC death "box" he walked into. The other PC, playing his character-to-the-hilt and ran into to the rescue but died, objected to the NPC following his bloodthirsy archtype and killing their characters.

Many gamers and GMs play with the philosophy of creating a story as a cooperative effort between storyteller and players, but sometimes the real world offers tragic moments, where death is real and the PCs don't always meet "by-the-book" encounters that are matched to their difficulty levels.

Afterall, the low-level street punk doesn't go insulting the lady-friend of Al Capone. Nor does the young Jedi pursue the Empire's top Inquisitors. It provides a real world perspective and reality for the game. And forces the PCs to consider their actions with gretaer weight. Conversely it also gives greater wieght to the actions they DO take.

In summary charater deaths should not be common, but neither should PCs be coddled or sheltered. Upsets do happen, after all they make the triumphs and successes all the more meaningful in contrast. I guess it just takes thick hide to weather it as a GM when players get upset.

How does everyone else handle this stuff? When players are upset? How do you guys (and gals of course! Hi VixenofVenus!) deal out your roleplay vs character death ratios?

I presonally prefer a bit of death, afterall if I'm making sure nobody dies what kind of risks are my players taking? Does it really make it daring and heroic if my PC jumps from a height to catch a swinging rope to dive in to save a screaming innocent if there is little chance of them getting killed in a permanent way?

That is my reasoning anyhow. SO how do you all handle it??

Jastor
16 July 2002, 04:16 AM
im not looking too deliberatly kill the players, but i usually let the bad guys shoot on kill . and sometimes they do get a lucky shot, and the player a bad score on strength (+ and eventual armor)

why? because when they shoot on stun, the adventure usually ends up to be multiple times longer, with them either killing the characters anyway, or sending them off somewhere.

reliant
16 July 2002, 05:12 AM
I try to keep track of how many VP/WP the PC's have left and then hack them down until they are about to die. Once they hit the floor the NPC's usually stop shooting. Besides in D20 there's that whole negative wounds thing so PC's tend to have a better chance of living through a bad encounter.

I don't want the PC's to die if at all possible because I want the players to get attached to them. Rather than kill them, most of the time I just smack them down really hard and take away all their toys. Then they learn what a BAD plan whatever they did was and try NOT to do it again in the future...

Nova Spice
16 July 2002, 08:05 AM
Well in our last session, one of my PCs bit the bullet in the final scene of Act III of Tempest Feud (D20). If you've read or played that scene you know how difficult it is! I won't reveal how because it might provide spoilers for PCs currently playing Tempest Feud. ;)
The fact is this PC was level 11 (almost level 12) and they went into a high-risk situation. He knew that more than likely one of them wouldn't walk away from the battle like they always had, and he fought valiantly to his death. This was the first time I had ever killed a PC in two years of GMing. I don't like for my PCs to die, but I understand that sometimes its a necessity to create a sense of danger and reality to the game.
Basically, its not fun and its not easy, but as a GM you have to accept that your PCs are going to die every now and then. It only creates a better game. ;)

Jedi_Staailis
16 July 2002, 09:01 AM
In general, there are three reasons I'll let PCs be killed.

1) Stupidity
When characters do something especially unintelligent, sometimes they'll die as a result. In this sort of circumstance, the GM has little choice but to kill the character. If the character survives, realism in the game world is lost.

2) Random Battle Fatalities
Sometimes the other side just gets lucky. I make these pretty rare, but occassionally they do happen. I increase the frequency as the campaign goes on. It makes for exciting conclusions. :)

3) Heroic
Sometimes characters sacrifice themselves heroically. These sort of deaths are usually good for the game.

reliant
16 July 2002, 09:09 AM
Yeah I agree with you that characters have to die every once in a while especially if they meet one of your three requirements (Stupidity, Random Battle Fatalities, Heroic Death). I especially agree with stupidity and heroic death. For battle fatalities, it would have to be a BIG or important battle for me to start slaughtering the PC's.

IMHO a couple of random stormies out on patrol shouldn't kill a PC.

DarthMalaryush
16 July 2002, 10:13 AM
I agree with Reliant. Stupidity and heroic death are some of the very few reasons to die. I'm leaniant with my pcs. If someone does end up dead there has always been an out for them, (I'm very nice) There is always a resserect(for D&D) or a cloning chamber(for star wars) available.

Lord Diggori
16 July 2002, 12:11 PM
The conflict is realistic risk vs. cheapening of PC life it seems to me. I like Liquid Saber enjoy well RPed characters in my campaigns. I also like to keep risks risky, cause without them their's no heroism.

I keep them separated though. Most of the XP I give my group is for role-playing. These points and the funny scenes generated by good RPing keeps them doing it. If they don't role-play their characters are less interesting to me, more like extras in a movie. They'll eventually find their PC several levels below the party average and eventually dead, just like an extra.

I also kill PC's when their number is up too, but never casually. When stupid decisions are made I re-describe the scene to make sure they have a second chance. I don't like killing PC's so I skew challenge difficulties slightly to the player's favor, but that's as far as I go. Heroic PC's that die pass on benefits to the player's next character.

wolverine
16 July 2002, 12:21 PM
As previously stated in several other threads about this subject, i am a no-holes barred type of guy. If the dice call it, too bad. I prefer this way for several reasons..
1)Realisticness. If the characters get in their heads that they can waltz into combat knowing you are going to fudge the dice or pull the NPC's punches, it (to me at least) takes away one of the biggest parts of realism. Combat is DEADLY!!! It says so in most RPG books. THat is why they have armor, med packs and other things, to make it less deadly, but there is always that chance you get capped.
2)Mortallity. If a player, or group of players get used to their characters never dying, they soon will get either borred with them, as there is a major drop in the challenge, or considre the game a power-trip.

One other thing that made me decide the way i have, is while i also wish people to get into their characters, i treat them like true people. PEOPLE DO DIE! It is a fact of life....

evan hansen
16 July 2002, 01:36 PM
To me, the key to the game is enjoyment. Oftentimes, people find themselves enjoying the game when there's the risk of death but they win out. It makes them heroic. It makes them superb. It makes them like the main characters in the movies. Luke, Leia, Han, et cetera faced constant peril and near death many times. But they always cheated it -- with some luck/destiny but primarily with innovation, creativity, and skill.

So try to mirror that in games.

In a situation where a player heroically charges into a battle and tries to defeat an NPC (such as Liquidsaber's case), I would fudge the roll to barely keep the player alive. Afterwards, come up with something that becomes an ongoing problem for that player. It's a compromise. You could kill the player. You could let the player live with no problem. Or you could let the player live without being able to play for the rest of/most of the rest of the adventure and, in the next adventure, fit the player with a partially cybernetic arm or torso or leg or even face. Or have him have to have some surgery. So now rather than being dead or perfectly unscathed, the character adds a new dimension that will have to be reflected in the role playing.

As a GM, part of what you'll have to do is decide when to make that compromise and when to let the character die. But, for me, I almost always let the heroic character live -- barely -- and let the stupid character die. The accidental death is almost a coin toss for me. Sometimes I fudge the rolls, sometimes I don't. That way even the accidents are even more randomized.

Anyhow, those are just some ideas that seem like they may help. I'm definately a big fan of that compromise solution. I suggest trying it out.

LiquidSaber
16 July 2002, 09:57 PM
Hey thanks everyone and great insights from every response!

Hansen, that is a great way to play it, by fudging things a bit in a death situation like that. I know the roleplay after effects would have been marvelous if that PC who got himself killed would have just had a hand taken off or near-death/terrible scar from the encounter.

Hmmm, but I think for every death the heroic vs stupid level of the PC as it was played must be taken into account, agreed.

Lol, I'm thinking back to the encounter, and I'm remembering the posts on Villains about if you didn't see the body...no-one saw the bodies of the dead PCs...hmmmmm. That is the other PCs just assumed they died afterall and metagaming should be punished lol... :p

shadow master
16 July 2002, 10:59 PM
Alright, as an additional note from the Dark Side GM, I have a few things on death and the thanatos of games.

I will admit that I fudge rolls. Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. I once kept a character from a battle by fudging and giving the enemy a critical hit, but fudging and keeping the hero alive. It really wasn't expected for me to roll 3d6 and get a 15 (6, 5, 4) and killing the player outright as a warning shot. But he was still worried with the 10 points of damage he took to his wound.

Or (as a player) I will find a way to cheat death. I admittingly fudge my players rolls on occasion without the GM or other PCs from knowing if it means them narrowly escaping death. (I also help other PCs do it). But only to escape death, not to kill the bad guy and be the hero.

Say for D6, I would actually be 2 under to parry the enemy lightsaber attack, but would say with much relief that I was 1 ahead and then try to flee battle. You know, stuff like that will let me escape with things to think about. Not recommending other PCs to do that, just being honest. BTW, I don't do it ALL the time, just when death would be eminatent. And I also take penalties of my own when it comes to it. Like in the example in this paragraph, I docked myself a few Character Points after the adventure, all without the GM knowing. Untill later when the campaign had fizzled and I told him how I escaped emminant death, he laughed.

But as a Gm, I fully expect PCs to do the same because they value their characters, so I don't penalize my players for wanting to keep their players alive if they have been playing for a time, but a critical wound for them to think about is something worth their troubles.

Ping
17 July 2002, 06:00 AM
I'm a big fan of script immunity for my players, because I feel it makes things more realistic. 8o Bear with me!

I have played in a campaign where the DM had no qualms about killing characters. I had created a "Rider of Rohan"-type character with a complex background and some serious issues to deal with. I was looking forward to playing through those situations. However, I never really got the opportunity, because I was too busy trying to keep her alive. I had to spend my mental energy basically becoming a munchkin, because I didn't want her to die after all the creative energy I put in. I couldn't focus on role-playing, because I was too busy rolling, planning my next feats and improvements, and generally doing all the things I find abhorrent. I left the campaign after a few months, because it just wasn't fun.

On the other end of the spectrum is my amnesiac seer character. This DM believes that characters only die if the player does something utterly stupid, or if it's a heroic death, and the player doesn't mind. Kierna has a 9 strength and an 11 dex, and is short and scrawny, and she tends to have more attitude than sense. She runs into situations that she shouldn't necessarily be able to survive. Is it realistic that she does? To me, yes, because she's usually so beat up that she can barely move, if she's even managed to still be conscious. (And despite the fact that D&D doesn't have a mechanism for it, I usually role-play out movement and such being hard for her at that point.) The point is, I feel I can play her the way she would act, because I don't have to be worried that she'll keel over dead and I'll never get to find out about her history.

Now Kierna doesn't know that, in actuality, she's nigh-invulnerable. Getting smacked around frequently keeps her humble, and she doesn't want to die and will run away if the situation calls for it. She's not STUPID, after all. :) She reacts in realistic ways to situations, despite the fact that she's still alive. She sometimes marvels at the fact that she's still physically whole, but she doesn't think she's invincible.

Now, this DM does believe in punishing player stupidity. One of the players refused to accept the deal offered by the Queen of Air and Darkness. The character would have been shut up in the dungeon for the rest of his lengthy life. (This was the most obnoxious thing he did in a long line of obnoxious things, and the DM was tired of giving him outs and keeping him playable.) If my poor, stupid character hadn't made another deal with the Queen, the player would have been asked to leave, as his character was no longer playable.

So, I guess my point is that, yes, characters dying heroically is all well and good (though I wouldn't say it should be encouraged), but unless the player is repeatedly stupid, it actually can take away from a player's enjoyment of the game, if they have to be worried that one bad roll can destroy the character they put so much time into creating.

wolverine
17 July 2002, 10:55 AM
I must game with strange people then. All those i have gamed with, with only 3 excptions, prefered playing a game, and were more into the character, when they KNEW there was always the chance of character death. I am also like that.

The one game i was a player in, that the GM/DM for the most part was of the 'script imunity' way of thought, it just got too far fetched for me to keep a positive attitude. EG party of 5 level 4 charaters (ad&d) face off against 7 storm giants and 20 or so ogres, and not one of us got even taken close to 0 HP. SCRIPT imunity in full effect.

Just my way of looking at things, and for note, i seriously doubt i would ever game again with anyone knowing that they were always doing that....

reliant
17 July 2002, 11:01 AM
There is a difference between NEVER killing characters and trying to avoid killing characters. Charactesrs are not gods, and certainly are not invulnerable (or immortal). Characters CAN die in my game, I just don't take killing them lightly.

The situation you described with the characters and the huge giants and stuff is definately an extreme case of script immunity. There's a difference between having those characters walk away without a scratch and having them get slaughtered. I'd like to think I'm somewhere in the middle.

IMHO there is no way to make a cover-all statement on this topic. Some situations warrant characters deaths and some don't. It's up to each individual GM to decide which is which. I don't think it should always be up to the dice though, there's a reason the GM is behind a screen...

Ping
18 July 2002, 04:20 AM
The giant thing does sound far too ridiculous. Part of what keeps Kierna convinced that she's mortal is that she usually ends up at or near unconsciousness by the time a combat is over.

Wolverine--I might be the one playing with strange people. :) I've heard people describe that they have a hard time getting into a character if they know they won't die. This seems so foreign to me, but I guess it's just a matter of gaming styles. :)

wolverine
18 July 2002, 09:50 AM
<<<There is a difference between NEVER killing characters and trying to avoid killing characters. Characters are not gods, and certainly are not invulnerable (or immortal). >>>
That is part of the problem. Many just start out as "oh he has had a crappy day, i won't compound it by killing him, even though the dice call for it" and then soon they are at i like these people too much to kill them, i will just try to scare them a little" and then end up at "i won't kill them, no matter, unless they are so stupid, that killing them will be a blessing"....

Too many times, i have gone to conventions, schools, or gaming shops, and gotten into 'pick me up games', and seen this way of doing things. And while, i WILL agree, some people will say, "well, by character will die, it is inevitable. SO why should i get into it so much", others (i am one) are the opposite (with out that fear of death, my character is no more than a hollow shell, or a page out of a blank book.

Strife, and challenges are what MAKE or BREAK people, and are listed by many psychology teachers as character builders. With out that possibility your character might die, or even worse, knowing he wont, there is no real challenge for your character to overcome, no adversity to try his personality and psychie...

Ping
18 July 2002, 10:31 AM
With out that possibility your character might die, or even worse, knowing he wont, there is no real challenge for your character to overcome, no adversity to try his personality and psychie...

I find it fascinating that there is such a difference! People are so wonderfully diverse!

I guess the difference for me is separating the fact that I know Kierna can't die from what Kierna knows. She knows that she, like everyone else, is mortal. When I play her, I can forget that she won't die, because she doesn't know that she won't die. However, I don't have to worry about stacking rolls every which way from Sunday to keep her alive, or keeping her out of situations she would otherwise barrel right into, because she might not survive. (She doesn't care, or is willing to fight anyway, so why should I?) :)

But to each his own.

As a GM, I'm not sure how I would handle this, though, because I believe in script immunity. One way would be to ask your players which way they prefer to play, then tell them that that's how you play. Which might be lying, though, and I'm not really comfortable with that. I mean, what happens if their character, one I've hung many plot threads off of, just up and dies? :(

LiquidSaber
18 July 2002, 12:11 PM
This a real neat discussion. I just got through playing a game with a professed script immunity GM and let me tell you what happened to me.

As a player in this game we we're pretty high in level (9th) Old Republic era, fighting some hidden sith on a very strange world out in wild space.

Here's the set-up, there was only 3 PCs at the time of this last combat (other players had left earlier and were green clouded along), myslef a scoundrel 4/failed JG 2/ Gunslinger 3 (a SWRPGnetwork prestige class). My character was an outer rim gunslinging acrchaeologist with knowledge of sith lore, the Master in the group being my former master many years ago. Needless to say I was fascinated with this character very much. The others were the JC/Jedi master and his padawan a force adept/ JG.

In a great large Grand Hall of some kind with pillars and high ceiling. High level Sith Lord in front with 6 (there we're 12 but he conveniently forgot about them once we started getting smacked around) reborn Sith cronies. All of them very capable Lightsaber wielding freaks.

As for me I realize the difficulty (realistically) of what this encounter means for us and begin looking for a way to escape (hey, I'm a scoundrel....) And yet the fighting begins much to my character's dismay...I loved this though, the roleplay part of it I got to roleplay my character in a very stressful and meaningful encounter, one in which he very much may not walk away from. So his words here may be his last, better make 'em good...

Anyhow the encounter goes bad from the start, the first attack on me almost kills me. Everyone is spending a force point every round (we had accumulated quite abit up to this point), it was that bad. And yet I was having great fun. The whole encounter included some great roleplay and excitement as I tried to grapplehook and reel myself to the ceiling (so I might live a little longer, until force grip anyhow) but the sith warriors threw their sabers cutting my line. I did more shooting and then surprised everyone in the group when I pulled out my dirty old practice saber...

...well anyhow to make a long story short, it was great. All my actions were desperate and only half of them succedding adding to the drama and adrenaline. Just before I am about to die (1 VP, 5 wounds left, I healed myself about with a medical kit)...and THIS is the killer! The GM has a major NPC come in and slice the Sith Lord in half with HIS saber, after the Jedi Master had been fighting him for 5 rounds!

I had managed to down one of the sith geeks after 3-4 rounds and here the NPC came along and just *fwip!* no problem yo. The NPC continues to make short work of the remaining sith fighters. Well, we got to help clean-up at least...

Anyhow, you can see the dilemma. I was having a good time roleplaying with the other players in our desperate situation and running my character even though I knew he would die in such a situation. After all the triumphs and failures here comes an NPC to save the day, and who knows how many fudged rolls and such. It was a complete let down! All my character had struggled through was for nothing! All of it lost any meaning to me because it didn't matter in the scheme of things. Not really anyway. It sucked. Took the air out of the whole thing.

This is just an example, something concrete to wrap your mind around that's all. In general this is the reason I dislike script immunity. Believe it or not even though it is only a roleplaying game we can actualy make accomplishmens IN THE GAME. But these accomplishments have absolutely no meaning what-so-ever, they loose any meaing at all, if there is script immunity. None, zero, zipola.

At least for me they do.

It's like running a race, competeing against others, only to know that in the end I'm going to win the race. Sure I may stumble abit, stub a toe even, heck maybe even slip over a cliff and break something. But eventually I will finish that race, and I will win. So what the heck is the point of dong it?

horn1974
18 July 2002, 09:10 PM
Im of the script immunity unless stupid school of thought.sometimes yourjust supposed to run. lol natch twenties supercede this immunity( i call that fate )as I agree there has to be a chance of dying although as i posted elsewhere as long as the pc has 1 force point he can choose 2 spend All of his FP to be maimed blinded etc to avoid this untimely demise .the only time there isnt any type of immunity ' is at the climax of the campaign its no fun for me as a gm if I know exactly how things are going to turn out!!

Ping
19 July 2002, 03:13 AM
Liquid--that's less a case of script immunity and more a problem of deus ex machina. Deus ex machina is a term used in books and movies to describe exactly what happened in your scenario. The cavalry shows up at the last minute to save everyone, because the writer (or GM) has gotten them into more trouble than they can handle. It is a problem that GMs who prefer script immunity need to be aware of.

Liquid--until the end, you describe exactly why I have no problems with script immunity. Your character was scared and tried to run. He was desparate, and it sounds like you had a good time role-playing his emotions. This despite the fact that you had been told he wouldn't die (I'm assuming). Role-playing involves getting into the head of your character and reacting how they would react, not in trying to min/max your stats or anything like that. (Well, at least, it is for me!)

So, it sounds like the reason a lot of people have problems with a lack of character death could be more due to GMs creating unrealistic ways of getting out of situations than the fact that it really does take away from your ability to role-play effectively. Yes? No?

So, some advice for script-immunity GMs:

Part of doing this is to make sure you keep your situations something the characters could, at least with much struggle, win their way through. A lot of this is knowing your characters' stats, and the NPC stats, and what they mean. Just because 12 Sith apprentices will scare the bejeebies out of your players doesn't mean that you shouldn't go with the 6 they could handle. Keep track of what your players stats are. This way, if you're not sure if the group could survive a scenario, you can make some rolls while you're planning and test it out.

Another helpful thing, if you want to scare the snot out of your players but not kill them, is to have bad guys more interested in capturing them than killing them. A lot of players have the mentality of "death before capture," so they'll fight until they go unconscious and the bad guys slap them in binders and haul them off to the detention area. (From which, on waking up, they will instantly try to escape.)

scottyboy
19 July 2002, 05:19 AM
I agree with horn1974, killing PC's is ok. But only if they do something really stupid. And they should ALWAYS have an out. If that means sacrificing all their force points, or sacrificing some experience, or sacrificing anything that's important to them. It doesn't really matter. Yes killing a PC every once in a while does make the RPing more realistic. You have to remember though that it also makes for one pissed off player! Who will probably hold a grudge and try to get back at you in some way. However, if they do stupid things recklessly, then they deserve to be "offed". Maybe a warning is in order before killing them though. When I GM, the only time a PC is going to get killed, is if he's stands to learn something from it (ie. don't be so da#@ reckless!). I never kill a PC without (1) warning him in some off-handed way, that he's doing something that is going to get him killed, and (2) I usually (99% of the time), give him some way to "save" the character. If you can get them to learn the lesson without killing the PC, then what's the point in killing them? If a PC is on the "brink" of death, and the baddies happen to get a lucky roll, I'll usually tell the player's that they fudged it, and give them the chance to get out of whatever situation it was that about go them killed!

LiquidSaber
21 July 2002, 01:16 PM
Yes, you are correct Ping, that was the case with the scenario I presented. However, I still feel that without character death/ultimate defeat we are still so much a bunch of hamsters spinning in our wheels accomplishing nothing but our own ends. There are no so-called "bragging rights" to those games where script-immunity is in play.

Afterall, the players were going to accomplish "something", all there was left to do was figure out (together) what exactly they would accomplish. This smacks of surrealism based on a cushioned world where everyone stays happy and no great tragedies.

Btw Ping, great advice for SI-GMs.

*Sigh* roleplay vs adventuring. There are both roleplay accomplishments and adventuring accomplishments. I just believe a good game should have both, but with script immunity adventuring accomplishments tend to loose their meaning. Did the party really accomplish all that much if they were never going to die?

Agback
22 July 2002, 02:16 AM
Originally posted by Ping
I have played in a campaign where the DM had no qualms about killing characters. I had created a "Rider of Rohan"-type character with a complex background and some serious issues to deal with. I was looking forward to playing through those situations. However, I never really got the opportunity, because I was too busy trying to keep her alive.

Nice post, Ping!

Like you, I am a fan of script immunity for PCs. People do indeed die. But the protagonists of stories do not die until the end.

On the other hand it spoils the story when players start consciously or subconsciously using their characters' script immunity as one of their characters' powers. At its worst this develops into what I call the "one move and the idiot gets it" gambit. In this ploy the player effectively tries to resolve an encounter by taking his or her own character hostage. Confronted with a dangerous foe or situation, or finding that he or she has bitten off more than he or she can chew he or she directly challenges the strength of the encounter. Then the GM has to back down, to suck the strength out of the enemy, the danger out of the situation, to save the PC's live. Once you start down that path your campaign is a shot duck.

So it is one thing to script your adventures so that player characters shall not die. It is another to extend script immunity to protect PCs even from inappropriate behaviour.

I discovered "one move and the idiot gets it" the hard way, and had to fight hard to re-establish my players' confidence that their characters' fates were in their hands, not mine. Arbitrarily killing characters won't do it. And now my policy is that campaign features tht are beyond the PCs' ability to encounter and escape are clearly labelled with a ring of dead and frightened NPCs, but that if you cross the line you will die, even if you take the campaign with you. After many years of frequent GMing without killing a character, I now like to maintain a trickle of turnover, just to keep players aware that their characters are not immortal. Heroic deaths provide a fair basis for this, and if any PC does anything that is reckless of consequences beyond what is expected of either a real person or an adventure hero then the consequences will ensue unabated.

Anyway. The thing that struck me about your post is that it mentioned something I have been thinking about in connection with another thread. The point is that if you want your players to play interesting charcters and to have those characters engage in interesting behaviour, you can't put too much pressure on them. If every skerrick of player attention or every character point/feat choice is needed to keep the character alive, or even if they are all needed to overcome encounters, then you mustn't be too surprised if the players have nothing over to put into characterisation.

Regards,


Agback

incantator
22 July 2002, 02:32 PM
After all the triumphs and failures here comes an NPC to save the day, and who knows how many fudged rolls and such. It was a complete let down! All my character had struggled through was for nothing! All of it lost any meaning to me because it didn't matter in the scheme of things. Not really anyway. It sucked. Took the air out of the whole thing.

To avoid Deus ex Machina problems like this, a GM can do several things and still keep the PCs from dying unnecessarily or because of a bad estimation of the balance of an encounter.

First, a GM can add several lower level characters instead of a single NPC with the power to totally whomp the bad guys. This sort of "cavalry" arriving allows the PCs to keep their prestige on the field and also can be better integrated into the story by having the PCs hear the approaching reinforcements (or call them in with a comlink) several rounds before they actually arrive. Now the goal of the encounter is to survive until backup arrives, which is still a worthy, cinematic goal.

The other way the GM can aid the PCs while allowing them to save face is to bring in characters whose combat strength is not that great but whose other abilities can turn the tide of battle. Looking at the D20 version (the D6 version has similar effects available, I believe), there are several abilities that can help a group of characters. One way is to bring in one or two Jedi characters that have the Master Mind feat. A +8 bonus to constitution will give all of the characters an 8 point boost in wound points and vitality equal to 4 times a character's level (just be sure to have the Jedi maintain the power until some medical help can be attained). A +8 bonus to dexterity will give a +4 defense bonus. Master Mind is probably not a skill the characters in the group will consider having for themselves, so it is perfect for an NPC (think what might have happened if Yoda had boosted Obi-Wan and Anakin in AotC, instead of taking on Dooku himself).

Finally, the officer prestige class (and several other prestige classes) offers some of the same benefits that Master Mind gives, but at lower levels. With a character of one of these classes, the characters arround him get bonuses to attack and / or skill use, and the benefits are not as taxing on the character.

malphas13
22 July 2002, 04:26 PM
Kill the PC's if you "have" to, sometimes it's really the only option. But in the situation you first described with the Main Villain, if he's the evil twisted sort then have him hack off a limb or two instead of killing the PC. The PC is still alive, barely, and should he survive the encounter he'll be out for revenge next time. Even a blaster can destroy a limb, so long as you aren't throwing grenades around it should be okay. :)

Another option is capture, hostages are always useful, as are slaves for a bit of extra spending cash. Being evil can be expensive, and depending on the character, many would rather die than live life as a pleasure slave to a Hut. Darkside points don't grow on trees, killing everyone they come across losses it's thrill eventually. ;) Torture, physical and otherwise can keep the character alive, hopefully for a rescue, or just for enjoyment of the bad guys. :)

Ping
23 July 2002, 04:31 AM
Originally posted by Agback

Nice post, Ping!

Thanks! :)


<snip>I discovered "one move and the idiot gets it" the hard way, and had to fight hard to re-establish my players' confidence that their characters' fates were in their hands, not mine. Arbitrarily killing characters won't do it. And now my policy is that campaign features tht are beyond the PCs' ability to encounter and escape are clearly labelled with a ring of dead and frightened NPCs, but that if you cross the line you will die, even if you take the campaign with you. After many years of frequent GMing without killing a character, I now like to maintain a trickle of turnover, just to keep players aware that their characters are not immortal. Heroic deaths provide a fair basis for this, and if any PC does anything that is reckless of consequences beyond what is expected of either a real person or an adventure hero then the consequences will ensue unabated.

I guess that's just something I naturally file under the "stupidity" catergory. :D Seriously, though, I can see that this could be a problem.

My favorite DM once had us all surrounded by mongrel men, facing the Queen of Air and Darkness (think Malificent, but eviler) and several of her wizard minions. The Queen demanded the elemental talismans we had just spent several adventures acquiring and needed to prevent massive destruction. Kierna, aka "Live to fight another day, unless you're really, really ticked off" was all for giving them up, then breaking out of the dungeon and stealing them later. But the dwarf didn't want to give his up, and was trying to get a good feel for the layout and where the enemy was so that he could plan to fight. I think this DM already was familiar with "One move and the idiot gets it" problem, and I think she was quite willing to kill the guy's character for being such an unutterably stupid waste of time.

But it's good to know that this is a problem, because I wasn't aware consciously that it could be. Thanks! :)


Anyway. The thing that struck me about your post is that it mentioned something I have been thinking about in connection with another thread. The point is that if you want your players to play interesting charcters and to have those characters engage in interesting behaviour, you can't put too much pressure on them. If every skerrick of player attention or every character point/feat choice is needed to keep the character alive, or even if they are all needed to overcome encounters, then you mustn't be too surprised if the players have nothing over to put into characterisation.

Exactly! Even in a game I was in where I wasn't constantly fearing for my life, the GM was pretty rough on us. I spent a few CPs to gain the "cooking" skill, but as it never came in handy in any of the situations we faced, I never bothered to up it, as I was busy pouring CPs into combat skills. So if you want diversified characters, make sure that they have a chance to use all their skills. :)