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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 140 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Life or Death?  (Read 4251 times)
Rico
Member

Posts: 32


« on: June 19, 2004, 07:27:04 PM »

During my campains some of the players keep on pressuring me to be a more strict seneschal and kill more characters. One even got mad at me when during the campain the only person that got hurt was when one character stabbed his own leg.
I hate killing characters! I do not believe that that is the point of the riddle of steel. If nobody dies, if everything goes perfectly during the campain so be it! The point in my mind is to make a really good story and in the end having the whole campain being like one good book.
So On a different campain the seneschal wasn't happy until everyone got hurt or dead. He even had one of our long lived legendary characters (the only one the player had by the way because he usually got rid of characters. But he really liked this one) go up against a teleporting undead that, as he found out, couldn't feel pain. When the character preemptive struck the undead with an attack that almost slashed clear through him it didn't do any thing so the undead's attack continued and killed the character, all because the seneschal wanted more people to die.
I want a good story.
He wants Realism.
What, according to the Riddle, is the more correct philosophy.
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Sir Mathodius Black
Member

Posts: 132


« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2004, 07:42:58 PM »

I think the key is balance (as it usually is with most things).  I dont TRY to kill players, and usually if they play smart they wont die (assuming the seneschal is being reasonable as to the foes he pits against the players).  I think the best thing you can do is try not to kill off players but be prepared if one does die.  A part of a good adventure book is often people dieing.  But, if a character does die, just use insight and have him create a new one and bring him right back in.
After all, the whole advanced combat system and deadly combat would be fairly superfluous if death wasnt a possible result now wouldnt it...
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"God helps those who helps themselves."
Tash
Member

Posts: 284


« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2004, 05:09:55 PM »

What's best is whats fun.  If they players want more realisim and strict rules that kill characters, give it to them.
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"And even triumph is bitter, when only the battle is counted..."  - Samael "Rebellion"
ZenDog
Member

Posts: 158


« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2004, 09:56:13 PM »

Don't forget one of the philosphical tennants of TRoS is 'What are you prepared to die for?' Well I guess that's direceted at the characters rather than the players but you know what I mean.

Death is a great litrary theme, if the players want to explore that or just want you to up the anty on combat, then go for it.
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bottleneck
Member

Posts: 41


« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2004, 05:08:39 AM »

Quote from: Rico
I want a good story.
He wants Realism.
What, according to the Riddle, is the more correct philosophy.


The correct philosophy is to give a good GAME. What makes a good game, depends on the players. [are they gamers or role-players?]

As a player, I like CHALLENGE. My most glorious moment in DnD was when I rolled the worst dice rolls ever, and barely managed to survive against inferior opponents because I had a _plan_ . Winning too easy is no fun*, but impossible challenges are no fun either (our 3-person tROS party keeps running into enemy detachments of 6-10 dragoons. Lots of contested riding checks, never combat as it would be certain defeat).

If you are to reluctant to kill pc's no matter how stupid they play, then there is no reward for being smart.

On the other hand: your NPC's don't want to die either, and unless they have a good reason, they shouldn't go out of their way to kill the pc's. Also, losing because of plain bad luck is a bugger. Barely staying alive in spite of bad luck, though...

My advice in tROS: use inferior opponents, play them smart. Noone ever takes a fall when fighting for their life. If properly 'balanced', then the PC's should stay alive unless they are stupid, overconfident (same as stupid) or plain unlucky [if so, let them burn a luck point to be saved by the bell].

My policy: Never kill characters outright, but let them know that the moment they screw up, death is a very real possibility.

----

*(too easy = no fun): a possible cure for munchkinism is to give the player everything he wants except challenge. Such as an epic-level dnd-hero in a dungeon full of goblins with toothpicks and huge treasure chests - everytime he meets one, just skip combat because it's a foregone conclusion; then let him have all the treasure and a million xp without even getting to roll any dice.
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...just another opinion...
toli
Member

Posts: 313


« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2004, 07:43:25 AM »

Quote from: Rico
I want a good story.
He wants Realism.
What, according to the Riddle, is the more correct philosophy.


The Riddle be damned.  What ever you enjoy more is the correct way to play.  I play to have fun.  Not to have some vindictive seneshal murder all my characters.  Of course if everything is too easy, that's no fun either.

I think characters should DIE only if they do some thing really stupid or purposefully sacrifice themselves for a higher goal etc.  Otherwise the senseshal should alway give them some sort of way out.  That said, there is no reason that their goals shouldn't be continually thwarted.  Instead of being cut in half by a Gol, you might be KO'd and turned into a slave.  It is a whole new experience for your arogant knight to lose all his weapons and armor and be whipped daily...until he manages to kill his captor and escape...

But again...what ever you like is best.  THere are no rules about how to enjoy a game...NT
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NT
Ashren Va'Hale
Member

Posts: 427


« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2004, 09:30:45 AM »

I once tried to kill my character off in a noble sacrifice, the seneschal decided I should definately pay for such an idea, so I had to roll against each attacking Gol from the army of 10,000 as they climbed the stairs to fight my character. The rolls for both went right on the table so the GM could fudge nothing. The end result? The character lived. Over 26 gol died and I got away.

That was one of the times when I wanted to kill the char and the GM did too but he lived anyways. Go figure.
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Philosophy: Take whatever is not nailed down, for the rest, well thats what movement is for!
ZazielsRephaim
Member

Posts: 46


« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2004, 01:08:25 PM »

In some of my games the players liked the sense of danger in the game.  I had a group of players who were very smart for most of the game, and even in times I tried to kill them, they got away without a scratch, decimating the opposition.

One non combat oriented character got surrounded by 4 thugs... and one well trained swordsman... (old grudge going on between him and the swordsman)...  Lucky for him, a few of the players decided earlier to follow him..  while they started to distract the thugs... it gave him a chance to stand up against the swordsman (who for all intents should have killed him in 2 rounds.)  But playing it smart... with almost non existant combat skills... and getting lucky...  he landed a solid blow.. that allowed him to escape.  

On the other hand... the whole group got into a fight with a walking dead.  one of the most skilled warriors in the group, ran up swinging, only to loose his head in a single blow.

But most of the time, I try to make it challenging with a real threat of death, just not OVERWHELMING... And as long as they keep their heads about them, they usually find a way to survive.  Find that balance between walk in the park, and inescapable death.
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James Buchanan
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2004, 01:55:05 PM »

Quote from: bottleneck

*(too easy = no fun): a possible cure for munchkinism is to give the player everything he wants except challenge. Such as an epic-level dnd-hero in a dungeon full of goblins with toothpicks and huge treasure chests - everytime he meets one, just skip combat because it's a foregone conclusion; then let him have all the treasure and a million xp without even getting to roll any dice.


This works really well.

One GM of ours constantly comes up with storylines where the protagonists keep defeating enemies of greater and greater magnitude (in pretty much forgone conclusions) until they have saved yet another world/universe/multiverse.

It gets really boring after a while.

-James
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James Buchanan
Member

Posts: 23


« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2004, 01:58:03 PM »

And yeah, the real threat of character death is the spice that makes the meal tasty.

It's the thing that makes combat a moral quandry, rather than a means to phat lewt.

Otherwise, what's so exciting about it?

-James
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Ian.Plumb
Member

Posts: 141


« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2004, 02:24:16 AM »

Hi,

Quote from: Rico
During my campains some of the players keep on pressuring me to be a more strict seneschal and kill more characters. One even got mad at me when during the campain the only person that got hurt was when one character stabbed his own leg.


Your answer is right there in your first statement. You have players who have a need that isn't being met. You may well have other players who don't want what those players are demanding. Either way your job as referee is to juggle those demands.

You can argue that the potential for character deaths being positive for the player is built in to TRoS because it has the Insight rules. On the other hand there are players who want every character they have ever created to live happily ever after.

Infrequent character death campaigns are easier on the referee because continuity is made that much simpler. The characters build up a history, a network of contacts and enemies, and a sense of the "big picture". If deaths are frequent then you lose that. On the other hand if character deaths are extremely rare then your game has lost its edge. It may even stray into the realms of becoming routine, stuck in a rut, and potentially boring.

Many responses in this thread have talked exclusively about character death through combat. Poison and disease are equally interesting and just as potentially poignant as the lone warrior holding the breach in the castle walls.

All too often referees refuse to kill characters through poison or disease because it isn't an heroic death. One of my favourite character deaths involved my somewhat cowardly nobleman who, upon contracting Consumption (TB), found himself facing the inevitability of a slow and painful death. He chose to journey with his more courageous friends in crusade and found himself at Nicopolis in 1396. His companions had the opportunity then to witness their friend, freed of the fear of personal harm that had been his constant companion, fall under the weight of the enemy assault. The fact that his friends knew he was dying long before the spear entered his body added to the scene. There was no sense of blaming the referee for giving the character a fatal deisease.

Quote from: Rico
I want a good story.
He wants Realism.


These aren't mutually exclusive options. For many players if there's no risk then there's no reward (and no story). Give them what they want. Treat other players who don't want that much realism more generously. And let the players who want more realism know that that is how you are going to run the game. With luck that'll produce a discussion between all the players that will result in a more uniform approach.

Cheers,
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Rico
Member

Posts: 32


« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2004, 06:49:21 PM »

Yea these are all good ideas. I have alot of plans for the next campain.
What I still have a problem with is characters being completly stupid! Dying in story is awesome, dying heroically is awesome, dying in battle is good, even dying by poison or trickery is acceptible. But dying by stupidity and that's the end, I personnaly can't do that. But If they don't die by their stupidity then they will always be stupid! AHHHHHH!
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Tash
Member

Posts: 284


« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2004, 07:25:36 PM »

Quote from: Rico
Yea these are all good ideas. I have alot of plans for the next campain.
What I still have a problem with is characters being completly stupid! Dying in story is awesome, dying heroically is awesome, dying in battle is good, even dying by poison or trickery is acceptible. But dying by stupidity and that's the end, I personnaly can't do that. But If they don't die by their stupidity then they will always be stupid! AHHHHHH!


Darwinisim at work.  Let the players kill off a character or two through stupid moves and they'll stop being stupid.  If you want to soften the blow award some extra insight for their next character.
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"And even triumph is bitter, when only the battle is counted..."  - Samael "Rebellion"
Krammer
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2004, 05:07:14 PM »

I was actually there when this particular seneschal had the fallen legend kill that character, and from what I recall, it wasn't entirely one-sided. As a starter, the character tried to attack with an unlikely, and hard to pull off maneuver. this lowered his CP good amount, preventing him from getting enough successes to kill it, as he would have needed a level 5, and he only had level 2 or so. had he tried to dodge, and then attacked with more CP later, it would have worked out, most likely. I also remember that the player whose character died was in no way upset about the death, but took it well, actally a bit happy.

I would have to agree on the idea of balance. from what I understand, that seneschal actually wanted a good story, and not so much realism,  but from what he saw, a bit more of a challege would have led to a better story.

Just today I played a scenario with a different seneschal, and just in that one, he made it less exciting through lack of danger. In the three and a half hours that we played, there were only about five minutes of real excitement, when an engy Cow-Hef attacked. Of course, nobody was hurt, and we slew the beast. aside from that, there was another short battle, where one character could have been hurt, but again, nothing happened, and there was little effort put into avoiding death.
    the rest of the scenario was hastily jumping from one thing to another, with little involvement by the actual players. Stuff happened to set up the rest of the scenario, stuff that was supposed to be big and important, but since there was so little involvement, it meant very little to me.
    IMO, having every character die is no fun, as is unavoidable injury. but avoiding injury without effort, where it is too easy, is no fun at all. Story is what makes a scenario great, and a large part of a great story is having something of a character at risk. if there is nothing to lose, then it is hard to get into it. It may mean risking death, but it is far better than risking a few hours of boredome (this opinion only applies to games. my priorities are a little better in real life).
   
    My solution to this problem is to give your players more danger, but not necessarily more death. IMO, danger makes a better experience for the player, getting them more into the game, and making the story even better.[/quote]
Quote
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2004, 07:57:39 AM »

Don't fudge, or give weak opponents. That's always detectable. Give the players respectable opponents, and then make play about SAs to the extent that the player can make choices that empower his character to be likely to win. It's that simple. You get the best of both worlds - players feel the heat, but characters rarely die.

Mike
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