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pasko77
2009-07-03, 04:49 AM
Hi all,
i just found myself in an awkward situation with my players.
Dealing with a merchant, one of the players commented on a magic item: "it better work, or we kill you".
Since it is a "all green" campaign in a warhammer(ish) world, with orcs and goblins as characters, and they all have animosity, i just assumed this is the normal way greenskins communicate, so i let the merchant shrug and say "you can try the items, no problem".
Moreover i was selling, well...., a four-leaf clover (magic effect, obviously, it boosts luck), so the "does it REALLY work?" comment is not totally out of context :)

So, cutting short, the merchant was nice and took no offense.

The question arisen in mind, though, is: how do you fellow DMs behave when PCs threaten your item-dealing otherwise-transparent nameless merchant (i mean nameless because there should be none, i invented him on the spot)?

Further, what if PCs try and kill/steal from/blackmail said characters?

My obvious responses are:

1) Morrowind's invincible police: you send them a nigh-unbeatable entity to kill/stop/imprison/spank them. But it is unrealistic.

2) Let them do it, since they are likely the strongest beings in the place, send them token resistance and surrender.

3) Out of game - ask not to do... yawn.

4) Let the whole village start an angry mob reprisal, somewhat unrealistic, but better than 1).

Options?

HMS Invincible
2009-07-03, 04:59 AM
Standard answer is the merchant has been doing this for a while and has insurance by sending in either a powerful retainer or has guards/traps that are strong enough to kill party members.

Zergrusheddie
2009-07-03, 05:00 AM
It really depends on what kind of things they are trying to buy. Trying to buy a Greastword from the 2nd level Commoner and the Commoner will likely just shrug it off. Now if the Merchant is selling a magic item and is threatened, well then the Wizard who made the item and is having the merchants sell it for him (expanding his business if you will) is going to be a little annoyed and probably take his matters into his own hands.

Having a nigh-impossible taskforce is not really that insane. If I was a serial asshat and was threatening the gas station attendant that "This candy better be good or I'm gonna kill you!", well the Police with their tasers are going to have a little chat with me.

Best of luck
-Eddie

Shademan
2009-07-03, 05:01 AM
well since it is warhammer orks:
LETS DOOOO THIIIIS! the merchant throws a kettle at one of them but misses and hit some other orc. huge brawl ensues.
warhammer orcs are so ...well...ORCY! thats what they do! just roll with it, I say. improvise!

ever read the comic "deff skvadron"? granted it is 40k orks, but it gives a nice picture of orcish heroes.



if they where regular adventurers however, i would have the merchant employ some bodyguards that would prove a DECENT challenge.

Saph
2009-07-03, 05:03 AM
I usually do shopping off-screen or between sessions. It's assumed that to buy a specific magic item the PC has spent a couple of hours going from merchant to merchant.

There's a sort of gentleman's agreement that players get the gold value for their items, no more, no less. They don't try and rob the merchants, and in exchange I don't rip them off or tell them they can't find anything. Not exactly realistic, but it works.

- Saph

pasko77
2009-07-03, 05:04 AM
Standard answer is the merchant has been doing this for a while and has insurance by sending in either a powerful retainer or has guards/traps that are strong enough to kill party members.

But this falls under number one option.
I think it is unrealistic because
1) such powerful beings should be rare
2) if such people were always there, why didn't THEY solve your quest? I mean, in Morrowind (if you know the game) those f..king guards are beatable only around level 40, and you completed the main quest by then. So why they just did not send the guards to kill all the demons?

pasko77
2009-07-03, 05:05 AM
well since it is warhammer orks:
LETS DOOOO THIIIIS! the merchant throws a kettle at one of them but misses and hit some other orc. huge brawl ensues.

I'm totally doing this next time!!! :)
Thanks for the idea! :)

Biffoniacus_Furiou
2009-07-03, 05:10 AM
Other merchants hear about it and nobody wants to do business with the PCs any more. Maybe even the one who was threatened reports them to some kind of merchant information network or guild, and they get a one month ban for it. They're forced to go to the shadier merchants whose items are even less likely to be genuine, plus they get charged twice as much for them. The players would probably learn quickly not to try anything like that again.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 05:14 AM
Let it drive the plot.

Don't send an unbeatable police entity at them. That's super lame.
Don't just give in and let them have anything they want without resistance.
Don't send token resistance that'll be just another encounter so you can all get to gettin' (though its better than the above).

Don't punish the players in a metagame sort of way for making purely in character decisions in the game world. Work with their decisions.

Players kill a merchant and take his stuff? The logical next step is the authorities show up to apprehend them, who are appropriate to the level of the city the PCs are in. If this is a one horse town out in the boondocks, they're probably only a ragtag militia of 1st-2nd level Warriors, more farmer than fighting man.

Doesn't matter if the PCs are level 15 or not and can kill them trivially. Let them decide that. Do they go through due judicial process? Make amends and take some jail time if they lose the case? Do they run from the lowbies and become outlaws? Do they murder a bunch of innocent guards?

Each of these things can lead to interesting plot events. Say they murder the guards for doing their jobs. Next, maybe some low level adventurers show up to collect a bounty, which the high level PCs will mop up with ease, possibly choosing to kill them too.

Then maybe some Clerics and Crusaders from a Temple of Heironeous come to enact holy retribution on the PCs. Can the PCs bring themselves to kill holymen? If they do, that's a big black mark on them. Not metaphorical. Say the next night a Harvester Devil (Fiendish Codex II) visits them, chats them up, remarks how cold blooded sleazy bastards they are. Maybe they'd like to work for Mammon, Archduke of the Third Hell? He has some business in Sigil, the Planar City of Doors, that needs conducting, and some muscle wound not go amiss.

The PCs show up to be bodyguards, but it turns out that Mammon's men are dead when they get there, along with the Yugoloths they were going to trade with. Now the Mercykillers Faction would like to speak with the party, who already have a mystery on their hands; namely, where are the Archduke's goods? You don't go back to someone who rules a Layer of Hell and tell them you lost their goods. What do they do now?

ImmortalAer
2009-07-03, 05:15 AM
But this falls under number one option.
I think it is unrealistic because
1) such powerful beings should be rare
2) if such people were always there, why didn't THEY solve your quest? I mean, in Morrowind (if you know the game) those f..king guards are beatable only around level 40, and you completed the main quest by then. So why they just did not send the guards to kill all the demons?

You can actually kill them around level 15-20 with a bit of optimization.

Being a Redguard+Adrenaline Rush+Health Potion Pile usually helps. :smalltongue:

Or instead of powerful guards, maybe a large group of them? And if they kill guards, then you have an excuse for bigger reprisals.

Swordguy
2009-07-03, 05:20 AM
This is a really good reason to have merchant's guilds exist. Mutual defense. Somebody messes with a Guild-chartered merchant, and the Guild finds out? They hire high-level adventurers to go take out the offenders. If the offenders are powerful enough, they can go to kings, who very definitely have the resources to make a PC's life difficult.

To say nothing of the fact that PCs who routinely rob or kill merchants are no longer "good", and thus viable targets for lots of good-aligned clerics/paladins who can call upon divine help. Yeah, you've got a Batman wizard20. Oooh...scary - the cleric points out to his god that this guy is literally a threat to existence and you get 50 Solars dropped on you.

Messing with the economy is a really good way to get everybody mad at you, and they can and will band together to take you down. Do not screw with merchants.

pasko77
2009-07-03, 05:24 AM
You can actually kill them around level 15-20 with a bit of optimization.


Really?
Remarkable.
The lowest I ended the game was about 30, and by that time i was Pavlov-instructed not to touch the guards. :)
Anyway they are insanely powerful :)

Sliver
2009-07-03, 05:37 AM
If the merchant is selling magic items, then he should have UMD high enough to use most of his stuff. You won't threaten a merchant in his gun shop right?
And if someone strong enough made the stuff the PCs want, then he is strong enough to pose them a challange, and if they kill him for some stuff, they hurt themselves in the proccess. not only economy damage, but that was a powerful being, something that will a kindom would want to evenge.
If its just normal mundane stuff, then the PCs are just.. threatening a mercant to keep a few GP? You shouldn't care to make him the ultimate unbeatable NPC and if the PCs get caught, minor trouble that can evolve into bigger if poorly handled..

Riffington
2009-07-03, 05:38 AM
I definitely agree that, because it's orcs, violence should be the answer.

For the nonorc answer: if the PCs are collectively more powerful than the town guard, then merchants should not be selling powerful magic items. After all: if they can afford to have an item worth more than an entire town and just let it sit waiting for a buyer, then they are a fantastically rich noble and should act like one rather than like a grubby shopkeeper.

If you are buying a sword +3, then you are finding a bard who knows that a Prince three kingdoms over is fabled to have such a sword and sending an agent to negotiate a trade with him. If you cheat him on such a trade, he may have the might to respond in some way.

pasko77
2009-07-03, 05:40 AM
Let it drive the plot.

Don't send an unbeatable police entity at them. That's super lame.
Don't just give in and let them have anything they want without resistance.
Don't send token resistance that'll be just another encounter so you can all get to gettin' (though its better than the above).

Don't punish the players in a metagame sort of way for making purely in character decisions in the game world. Work with their decisions.

Players kill a merchant and take his stuff? The logical next step is the authorities show up to apprehend them, who are appropriate to the level of the city the PCs are in. If this is a one horse town out in the boondocks, they're probably only a ragtag militia of 1st-2nd level Warriors, more farmer than fighting man.

Doesn't matter if the PCs are level 15 or not and can kill them trivially. Let them decide that. Do they go through due judicial process? Make amends and take some jail time if they lose the case? Do they run from the lowbies and become outlaws? Do they murder a bunch of innocent guards?

Each of these things can lead to interesting plot events. Say they murder the guards for doing their jobs. Next, maybe some low level adventurers show up to collect a bounty, which the high level PCs will mop up with ease, possibly choosing to kill them too.

Then maybe some Clerics and Crusaders from a Temple of Heironeous come to enact holy retribution on the PCs. Can the PCs bring themselves to kill holymen? If they do, that's a big black mark on them. Not metaphorical. Say the next night a Harvester Devil (Fiendish Codex II) visits them, chats them up, remarks how cold blooded sleazy bastards they are. Maybe they'd like to work for Mammon, Archduke of the Third Hell? He has some business in Sigil, the Planar City of Doors, that needs conducting, and some muscle wound not go amiss.

The PCs show up to be bodyguards, but it turns out that Mammon's men are dead when they get there, along with the Yugoloths they were going to trade with. Now the Mercykillers Faction would like to speak with the party, who already have a mystery on their hands; namely, where are the Archduke's goods? You don't go back to someone who rules a Layer of Hell and tell them you lost their goods. What do they do now?

That's very interesting. I will try something like that, sooner or later (not in an orc campaign, i think there are no such organisations, and orc gods are all about war and savagery), though it is far more complicated than what i'm used to.
Thanks.

Ianuagonde
2009-07-03, 05:42 AM
I use the same method as Saph: the players don't try to be smart, the DM doesn't try to be mean. Everybody happy.

But I agree, it isn't very realistic. Someone who has lots of magic items, and has enough cash on hand to buy the items of the PC's has either a lot of guards or powerfull connections. Perhaps a merchant's guild? Or, in more civilised areas, the merchant can report them to the town guard...

PC's: "Finally, civilization. Time for beer and shopping."
Guard: "You are under arrest. The charges are intimidation and attempted extortion. That new sword is confiscated as evidence until the trial is over."

Killer Angel
2009-07-03, 05:51 AM
Other merchants hear about it and nobody wants to do business with the PCs any more. Maybe even the one who was threatened reports them to some kind of merchant information network or guild, and they get a one month ban for it.

Not only this, but who said that only the guild will react?
Merchants who deal in magic items, are not so common: are very few the ones who can afford to buy magic items, so you can turn the perspective.
Imagine you are a group of strong adventurers, or a warlord, or a commander of some army.
Suddenly, you discover that your almost-friend Hagar the magic-seller (the only one magic seller in a 50 miles radius), was robbed (or threaten, or killed).
How do you react?

pasko77
2009-07-03, 05:54 AM
So, general consensus is: let them do the deed, and retaliate.
You are very bad people, i like it :smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:

Anyway, i get the idea :)

kamikasei
2009-07-03, 05:57 AM
So, general consensus is: let them do the deed, and retaliate.

Actually, my preference would be to a) work out the in-game consequences and then b) advise the characters, in game, and the players, out of game, of those consequences. In the real world, people don't have to try robbing a bank first before they learn it's a bad idea that makes trouble for them. In the game, the characters are presumably conscious of how much of a mess they'd stir up if they tried petty theft from people with both wealth and magic.

That way, you avoid derailing the game entirely into Reservoir Adventurers - well, unless you want to.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 06:22 AM
That way, you avoid derailing the game entirely into Reservoir Adventurers - well, unless you want to.

You can only derail a game that's on rails in the first place.

I think that giving PCs more freedom in maneuvering the plot can only be a good thing. Even if, to bring up a common fantasy plot and very 'railroad' prone premise, the PCs are the destined heroes, who are the only ones capable of saving the world from some ancient evil awakening and killing everything.

Then they kill a merchant. Local authorities go after them, churchs go after them, guilds go after them, etc. The PCs are now not capable of completing the plot and saving the world because they have all of these other distractions that they brought on themselves.

That's some awesome drama. They have to live with their problems. Doomsday approaches, the skies grow dark, and the PCs look on with horror. They know the consequences of what they did now. Do they try to repent in their last moments for dooming the world? Do they make a last attempt to save their skin and make it off the plane in time?

If the latter, that's adventure gold. The Prime Material plane is now a festering wound in the Great Wheel. Everyone is upset. The Outer Planes no longer have a way of taking in more souls. The Blood War just got more costly. The forces of Good are stretched even farther. Things aren't looking as eternal as they did before. Gods have lost all their worshipers. What happens to them?

Everything has been shook up. That's epic.

EDIT: And yes, I'm saying you could alter the course of the entirety of time, space, and existence itself by killing a random merchant. But the point is, the game goes on.

Tyrmatt
2009-07-03, 06:25 AM
In a Warhammer world, this would be how greenskins communicate amongst one another. However, a Gretchen/Gobbo merchant would have some serious backup on retainer, something equivalent to a Nob or one of the larger MekBoyz who was actually making the gear and bullying the gretchen into selling it for him. Apologies for the 40k terminology but it has been over 7 years since I last got anywhere near fantasy Warhammer, much to my chagrin.
So yeah, in the back of the shop there is a MekBoy or Shaman/Witch Doc who has naturally kept the best gear for himself and can easily go toe to toe with the PCs. Have him knock them about a bit and then retire when they've had a sound beating. The natural power structure of orc survival is that you don't screw with those much stronger than you and the characters should be instinctively aware of this. There's a reason orcs grow throughout their entire lifespan and their kings in times of peace are often fairly long lived. Y'know comparatively.

kamikasei
2009-07-03, 06:41 AM
You can only derail a game that's on rails in the first place.

Well, no. Not in the sense of "our DM is railroading us, waaaah!". Chances are the DM had a general plot in mind. Chances are the players had directions they wanted to take their characters. Chances are there was an overall tone and direction for the game agreed when the campaign started. Chances are swerving abruptly off into an escalating flight from the law across the multiverse will not make any of that more achievable or more fun.

A totally open sandbox game has its place, but in any game both players and DM act to shine the spotlight on some parts of the story that interest them and gloss over or steer away from others. Why PCs don't usually steal from merchants and what happens if they try is almost certainly a distraction from whatever brought the players to the table in the first place and shouldn't be allowed to snowball until it absorbs all of the play time and in-game action, not unless the players are totally fine with abandoning what they were after in the first place.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 07:04 AM
Well, no. Not in the sense of "our DM is railroading us, waaaah!". Chances are the DM had a general plot in mind. Chances are the players had directions they wanted to take their characters. Chances are there was an overall tone and direction for the game agreed when the campaign started. Chances are swerving abruptly off into an escalating flight from the law across the multiverse will not make any of that more achievable or more fun.

A totally open sandbox game has its place, but in any game both players and DM act to shine the spotlight on some parts of the story that interest them and gloss over or steer away from others. Why PCs don't usually steal from merchants and what happens if they try is almost certainly a distraction from whatever brought the players to the table in the first place and shouldn't be allowed to snowball until it absorbs all of the play time and in-game action, not unless the players are totally fine with abandoning what they were after in the first place.

You make it sound like players are constantly struggling against...themselves? The story follows the players. It's not some separate thing that would keep going on if they weren't around. If the players kill a merchant, then they decided to take that action. They obviously wanted the story to go that way, because that's the course of action they chose. If there was some completely different thing they wanted to do that killing a merchant would get in the way of, then they wouldn't do it in the first place.

The PCs can't 'thwart' the plot or the tone or the story. Because they 'are' the plot and story. They decide what actions to take which make the tone.

If you were in a horror campaign for 4 or 5 sessions, for instance, and then the party starts cracking jokes and being light-hearted, then there's absolutely no reason to not let it happen. They chose to take the tone and plot and story that way, so run with it. You won't hurt the game's feelings if you do a complete 180 and do something else. You have no obligation to some all-important plot that needs fulfilling if your group would have more fun killing merchants and having wacky misadventures because of it.

Gnaeus
2009-07-03, 07:17 AM
Most games that I have been in allow a diplomacy (or sometimes bluff or profession merchant) check to buy or sell items at a slight discount.

So mechanically, if the PC threatens a merchant roll (intimidate v d20+merchant level +merchant wis). Success means discounted goods, but with repercussions (merchant hires more guards for later, or stops selling magic items. PC reputation suffers. Maybe police action.) Failure could make merchant raise prices, or refuse to deal with PCs altogether.

kamikasei
2009-07-03, 07:22 AM
You make it sound like players are constantly struggling against...themselves?

Eh? Do you mean that I think a group of people engaged in a collective activity occasionally have to catch themselves when they get sidetracked and restore their focus? I don't think that amounts to "struggling against themselves", it's simply the universal refrain of "heh, yeah... well, anyway, as we were saying...".


If you were in a horror campaign for 4 or 5 sessions, for instance, and then the party starts cracking jokes and being light-hearted, then there's absolutely no reason to not let it happen.

Uh, yes there is. You got together to play a horror campaign. If you have lost interest in it and want to stop playing that and transition to something else, fine, but if you're just blowing off steam or cracking a joke then you do so, let it pass, and try to restore the atmosphere. Basically, what you're interpreting as "railroading" I would call "setting out on a journey and trying to keep in one general direction, instead of staring at your feet and taking whatever twisting, circling, going-nowhere path you get steered in to by every gust of wind or change in the lay of the land".


They chose to take the tone and plot and story that way, so run with it. You won't hurt the game's feelings if you do a complete 180 and do something else. You have no obligation to some all-important plot that needs fulfilling if your group would have more fun killing merchants and having wacky misadventures because of it.

You're assuming that the group would have more fun that way. There's no reason to think so. That the players may joke around about doing this or that thing that doesn't fit the tone of the game is not a signal that you should therefore alter the tone of the game. It just means they're joking around, you indulge the digression a little, and you get back to the game proper.

Part of the DM's job at the table is to manage expectations, atmosphere, and focus. The players will run off in all kinds of different directions at once and you have to try to make that add up to some kind of actual progress.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 07:37 AM
Post

This all seems very condescending to your players. You're playing a game, and the point of a game is to have fun. If the players would have more fun doing something else, then why not let them?

The way you make it sound is that D&D players are like hyperactive children, the game D&D is a chore they have to perform, and the DM is babysitting them all, 'focusing' them into doing that chore whenever they deviate from it.

If they deviate, they're deviating for a reason. You don't need to 'focus' grown people into doing a leisure activity. If I announce I'm challenging myself to drink 45 Dr. Peppers by the end of the day just for the hell of it. And around number 6, I get tired of them and decide to spend my time drinking 7up instead, there should not be a person there to slap my wrist and tell me 'your self-appointed goal is more important than doing what you enjoy, now back to the Dr.Pepper'. I'm perfectly capable of choosing which drink makes me happier.

The 'plot' of a D&D is just like that challenge. It's a self-appointed goal. If you get tired of it, and want to do something else, then why would the DM's job be to stop you? If the players sidetrack for a short time, and then say "heh, well, back to the main thing we wanted to do", then the main thing is what they actually wanted to do. That's fine. They don't need a DM to tell them what they want to do. If they keep going on that sidetrack and it becomes the new main thing they're doing, who is the DM to tell them they can't and try to reign them back into something else? The DM is just another player in the game.

pasko77
2009-07-03, 07:41 AM
I will agree with Kamikasei, that the definition of "railroad" is broad and while i have a general idea in mind, turning the story in a war against merchant guilds may at the very least piss ME off, because it would trash all my preparation.

But at the same time i realized that my players like more a chaotic course of action, and being orcs helps the feeling. Therefore i'm starting to think i should change the story itself, centering it more about personal power rather than on a holy war.
In that sense, i think i will do some change to the backstory to tune it with the group's mood, as Xefas suggests.

The question is interesting, wheter to keep a main plot going (as in a epic) or to change it, even significantly, on the whim of the players. I understand that, even in the latter, the main plot should still exist, but the players might screw it so badly that it simply ceases.

For instance, in my case, the PC are to start a WAAAGH against the humans. If they simply stop it and start warring with merchants, the main plot dies, does it not?

kamikasei
2009-07-03, 07:50 AM
You don't need to 'focus' grown people into doing a leisure activity.

We must live in different worlds. In my world people crack jokes or get in to side discussions that do not suddenly mean they want to abandon whatever they were already in the middle of. I don't think it's condescension or treating the players like children to recognize that even while they are invested in the game they will not at all times be fully and perfectly immersed, and that the table discussion will at times wander off in random directions and have to be brought back to the game once it's run its course. That doesn't just apply to out-of-character or non-game-related stuff, either - players have a remarkable ability to focus intently on one particular detail or problem out of all proportion to its importance, and do occasionally have to be reminded that "guys, it doesn't really matter at the moment whether you could in principle build a bridge across the chasm using only your firewood and a fabricate spell, because the orcish raiding party will reach you before that, and you should probably focus on them rather than on civic engineering".

I should also point out that all of this is really beside my original point anyway, where I was saying that there's no need to make the game about player-on-merchant violence when you can just point out the consequences of such to the players as something their characters could reasonably be expected to already know.


But at the same time i realized that my players like more a chaotic course of action, and being orcs helps the feeling.

I keep forgetting that you're not playing as standard D&D adventurers, but as Warhammer orks (or is it orcs? Is it different between the fantasy and 40k versions?). Given that I'd be inclined to just be lighter-handed about the tone of the game and give ample opportunity for the players to do silly, disruptive things without necessarily having to deal with all the realistic consequences of such. If they want to bust up a shop, let them, set the Guild on them, but give it a (perhaps absurd) resolution within a session or two.

hewhosaysfish
2009-07-03, 08:01 AM
Eh? Do you mean that I think a group of people engaged in a collective activity occasionally have to catch themselves when they get sidetracked and restore their focus? I don't think that amounts to "struggling against themselves", it's simply the universal refrain of "heh, yeah... well, anyway, as we were saying...".

See also: most of the threads on this forum.

:smallbiggrin:

Jayabalard
2009-07-03, 08:04 AM
Options?Negative reputation; word gets around that these people are bad news, so people become more and more unhelpful.


You don't need to 'focus' grown people into doing a leisure activity. That really depends on the particular leisure activity and the particular people involved.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 08:06 AM
We must live in different worlds. In my world people crack jokes or get in to side discussions that do not suddenly mean they want to abandon whatever they were already in the middle of.

Then that's a matter of degree. I'm saying if they (in character) completely steer off in another direction with full intent and contentment to follow that direction, then you should let them. It sounds like you're saying I'm all for "OMG He told a joke, lets run off randomly and do crazy **** for no reason", which I don't feel like I said.


I don't think it's condescension or treating the players like children to recognize that even while they are invested in the game they will not at all times be fully and perfectly immersed, and that the table discussion will at times wander off in random directions and have to be brought back to the game once it's run its course. That doesn't just apply to out-of-character or non-game-related stuff, either - players have a remarkable ability to focus intently on one particular detail or problem out of all proportion to its importance, and do occasionally have to be reminded that "guys, it doesn't really matter at the moment whether you could in principle build a bridge across the chasm using only your firewood and a fabricate spell, because the orcish raiding party will reach you before that, and you should probably focus on them rather than on civic engineering".

This doesn't seem to deal at all with what I'm talking about. I'm talking about taking the plot in a new direction because the players want to take the plot in a new direction. You're talking about players going off on a conversational tangent out of the game. It sounds like we're talking about two different things here.


I should also point out that all of this is really beside my original point anyway, where I was saying that there's no need to make the game about player-on-merchant violence when you can just point out the consequences of such to the players as something their characters could reasonably be expected to already know.

And I guess my original point was; yes that's fine, but what if the players want to make the game all about player-on-merchant violence? Can't that be fun too?

kamikasei
2009-07-03, 08:11 AM
If the players sidetrack for a short time, and then say "heh, well, back to the main thing we wanted to do", then the main thing is what they actually wanted to do. That's fine. They don't need a DM to tell them what they want to do. If they keep going on that sidetrack and it becomes the new main thing they're doing, who is the DM to tell them they can't and try to reign them back into something else? The DM is just another player in the game.

I overlooked this part to start with. It's certainly true that, as far as table chatter and such go, a mature group should be able to police itself without needing the DM to shush people or refocus everyone. However! For actual, game-related digressions, the DM does occupy a special position. He's the one who determines how the world reacts to the players' antics. It's appropriate for him to either downplay the consequences of some activity or warn the players that they may quickly grow to more of an issue than they might want, if for example they're about to go from "we must stop the dragon! But we should get new swords first" to "holy crap! The Interplanar Merchant's Guild and its Efreeti Prince are hunting us across Cania!". Not because being hunted through hell by salesgenies is necessarily unfun, but because the group sat down to play a dragon-slaying game, and the ranger with the disfiguring burns and the vendetta against all chromatics may feel cheated if he doesn't actually get to slay any dragons - not to mention that the DM had prepared a dozen intermeshed dragon clans with lairs and politics for the players to interact with, and now they're not even on the material plane any more.


I'm saying if they (in character) completely steer off in another direction with full intent and contentment to follow that direction... I'm talking about taking the plot in a new direction because the players want to take the plot in a new direction... And I guess my original point was; yes that's fine, but what if the players want to make the game all about player-on-merchant violence? Can't that be fun too?

If the players genuinely want to change the focus of the game, sure. I see nothing about the OP that indicates that's so. The OP just wanted to know what stops PCs from abusing merchants, and I advised that they don't need to learn the answer by trial and error.

I did go a bit off topic in talking about table chatter, but my impression is not that you take the attitude "OMG He told a joke, lets run off randomly and do crazy **** for no reason". Rather I get the impression that you think the DM should be too mechanical, taking every action of the players at face value as being what they consider the absolute best and most appropriate action for their character at that point and having the game world respond with perfect verisimilitude. But sometimes the realistic reaction would be a distraction, and it should be downplayed or skipped over. Sometimes the player is just being outrageous or silly, or his action is simply out of character given the knowledge his character should possess, and the DM should give him a "really?" or a "er, wouldn't...?".

Xefas
2009-07-03, 08:27 AM
Post

Alright, I agree with all of that, I think I just didn't communicate my meaning very well.

Using your example, I totally agree that running the party off to Cania when the Ranger had specifically wanted to fight dragons, is something that should be avoided. Yes, the DM should be there to maintain the path the players are walking (in this case fulfilling some kind of vengeance intrinsic to the character).

Though, if all my players, including the Ranger, came to me and said "Screw dragons. My ranger's revenge will have to wait, because we'd rather be fighting the shopkeepers from Hell." then I'd set aside my meticulously crafted dragon encounters for another day and get out the meticulously crafted devil encounters that I had to set aside last time I intended them to be in Hell and they went to Asgard instead.

kamikasei
2009-07-03, 08:36 AM
Though, if all my players, including the Ranger, came to me and said...

Well, of course. If the group want to play something significantly different to what they'd originally agreed, it's not the DM's job to say no. But without such agreement, it is the DM's job to keep the game from becoming completely rudderless and mired in pure reaction to whatever happens moment to moment. Basically, if the players want to do something totally different that's fine, but if what should be a minor sidequest or throwaway plotline threatens to blow up to occupy the entire game, it should be caught and averted.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 08:43 AM
Well, of course. If the group want to play something significantly different to what they'd originally agreed, it's not the DM's job to say no. But without such agreement, it is the DM's job to keep the game from becoming completely rudderless and mired in pure reaction to whatever happens moment to moment. Basically, if the players want to do something totally different that's fine, but if what should be a minor sidequest or throwaway plotline threatens to blow up to occupy the entire game, it should be caught and averted.

Yes, all true. I completely agree.

Now you just have me wondering if every argument I've had on the internet has been largely due to miscommunication.

pasko77
2009-07-03, 08:45 AM
Off topic:


I keep forgetting that you're not playing as standard D&D adventurers, but as Warhammer orks (or is it orcs? Is it different between the fantasy and 40k versions?).

In the 80s and 90s it was heavily implied that the world of warhammer is jut one of the planets of WH40k.
There is even a story including a genestealer fallen on the planet and a group of eldar banshees chasing it.

Then, with 6th edition and there after, GW designer Andy Chambers said these are parallel stories, not the same universe. In wh40k, for instance, orks are fungi and reproduce by spores (eww), while in the fantasy we have females (at least, there are miniatures of them, orc society is never described).
Moreover, there is a difference between the elven god Kaela Mensha Khaine (which is almost surely just a face of Khorne) and its eldar counterpart, which is clearly different from the Chaos gods.

Finally, in the fantasy settings, they are called orcs and not orks :)

pasko77
2009-07-03, 08:54 AM
...the shopkeepers from Hell.

Mmm... shopkeepers from Hell... you know, i'm totally stealing this. :)
Now i have to find a way to use this story hook.

Coidzor
2009-07-03, 08:56 AM
Yes, all true. I completely agree.

Now you just have me wondering if every argument I've had on the internet has been largely due to miscommunication.

If not every, then probably a significant percentage... I'm pretty sure it's the same way in real life... Though I imagine the internet exacerbates this trend.


Mmm... shopkeepers from Hell... you know, i'm totally stealing this. :)
Now i have to find a way to use this story hook.

Plenty of planar metropolii have fiends which have set up shop in 'em. Warhammer Fantasy Realm though... Hmm, don't know enough about chaos/khaos/kaos(pick any two and switch between 'em?) to comment on the ridiculousness of that idea in universe.

snoopy13a
2009-07-03, 09:05 AM
Why wouldn't there be an overwhelming police response?

For example, if you were to hold up a bank, would the police respond in a level appropriate encounter? Of course not, they'd bring in everything they could.

If a group of powerfully adventures kill a rich merchant in a city, it is a huge event. The other rich merchants are going to go nuts. They aren't going to send four city guardsmen against them in a "level appropriate encounter". The city guard, militia, possibly local paladins and clerics and maybe even some retainers from the local nobles are going to be mobilized to go after you. Realistically, this could be a posse of 100 NPCs.

Now it will take some time to get the posse organized which could provide the players with an opportunity to escape, although they may have to fight small groups of patrolling guardsmen. The posse can realistically only travel so far so if the players flee long enough, they will escape. However, this means that they are fugitives from that particular city and they may have questing good NPCs or bounty hunters after them.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 09:18 AM
Why wouldn't there be an overwhelming police response?

For example, if you were to hold up a bank, would the police respond in a level appropriate encounter? Of course not, they'd bring in everything they could.

If a group of powerfully adventures kill a rich merchant in a city, it is a huge event. The other rich merchants are going to go nuts. They aren't going to send four city guardsmen against them in a "level appropriate encounter". The city guard, militia, possibly local paladins and clerics and maybe even some retainers from the local nobles are going to be mobilized to go after you. Realistically, this could be a posse of 100 NPCs.

Now it will take some time to get the posse organized which could provide the players with an opportunity to escape, although they may have to fight small groups of patrolling guardsmen. The posse can realistically only travel so far so if the players flee long enough, they will escape. However, this means that they are fugitives from that particular city and they may have questing good NPCs or bounty hunters after them.

This only becomes a problem when the PCs become mid to high level, though it could vary from campaign world to campaign world.

If the PCs are all level 15, what are you going to do? Send level 17+ guards at them to squash them? If people of such high level can be spared to inact retribution for killing a simple shopkeeper, then why doesn't civilization exist on separately owned Timeless Demiplanes that endlessly spawn feasts and extradimensional prostitutes so that mankind is immortal and doesn't have to deal with each other or any problems at all ever again?

'Cause thats what large amounts of level 17+ people can do. Trivially, in fact.

snoopy13a
2009-07-03, 09:26 AM
This only becomes a problem when the PCs become mid to high level, though it could vary from campaign world to campaign world.

If the PCs are all level 15, what are you going to do? Send level 17+ guards at them to squash them? If people of such high level can be spared to inact retribution for killing a simple shopkeeper, then why doesn't civilization exist on separately owned Timeless Demiplanes that endlessly spawn feasts and extradimensional prostitutes so that mankind is immortal and doesn't have to deal with each other or any problems at all ever again?

'Cause thats what large amounts of level 17+ people can do. Trivially, in fact.

Simple shopkeepers do not sell the goods that level 15 characters want. Those who sell powerful magic weapons and armor are rare and because of that, probably have strong connections with the various high level NPCs in the world. Perhaps that "simple shopkeeper" you just killed at level 15 is friends with a level 20 "batman wizard" who is a frequent customer.

pasko77
2009-07-03, 09:37 AM
Simple shopkeepers do not sell the goods that level 15 characters want. Those who sell powerful magic weapons and armor are rare and because of that, probably have strong connections with the various high level NPCs in the world. Perhaps that "simple shopkeeper" you just killed at level 15 is friends with a level 20 "batman wizard" who is a frequent customer.

I believe the problem may be relevant at every level.
If the level 3 PC spend the night in an insignificant mudhole inhabited by 50 level 1 commoners, how do you stop them from, for instance, refusing to pay the bill for the inn?
The party should be able to effortlessly slay the whole village. Now don't focus on the example, the question was about, in a situation where the PCs clearly have the might to make right, how does the DM behave? Enforce with godly power, leave them do what they please, etc.

In the example nothing stops me from saying: "ehm guys, in the inn there was also a 15th level monk/paladin, named Miko Mihazaki, who would like to have a chat with you..." but that is option 1 in the original post.

Xefas
2009-07-03, 09:37 AM
Simple shopkeepers do not sell the goods that level 15 characters want. Those who sell powerful magic weapons and armor are rare and because of that, probably have strong connections with the various high level NPCs in the world. Perhaps that "simple shopkeeper" you just killed at level 15 is friends with a level 20 "batman wizard" who is a frequent customer.

Well, I don't know about you, but I've had some level 15 characters with some simple tastes. A widget of endless prestidigitation. A mug of endless bourbon. A deck of novelty playing cards that explodes if someone tries to cheat with them. Etc.

What you say is true. However, high level characters can commit what is, to them, low level crime, but is to the rest of the mostly level 1-5 world, a terrible atrocity.

You can still spring the "that lowbie commoner was friends with a 20th level spellcaster" trap, but while that is certainly possible (cough Samwise cough), it's stretching things a little far if it happens too often.

pasko77
2009-07-03, 09:53 AM
Warhammer Fantasy Realm though... Hmm, don't know enough about chaos/khaos/kaos(pick any two and switch between 'em?) to comment on the ridiculousness of that idea in universe.

Of course, because you don't know that the whole merchant guild is secretly hosting a cult of Nurgle, while selling goods which are tainted with warpstone.
Most of the shopkeepers have been possessed by lesser daemons, who see in this powerful organization a quick way to spread diseases.
In order to make their shops more appetible for more people, they start dishing out magic objects forged in the very depths of the Chaos realms and selling them at discount prices to further spread the plague...

all too easy :)

shadzar
2009-07-03, 10:21 AM
Merchants are like diplomats. If they are good and not ripping everyone off, then killing one will have the entire village against you, and they will tell other people, and basically it would end up looking like the players are just common thieves that killed the merchant to rob him, and they are likely to find "parties of adventurers" sent out after then like any other bandits.

Roderick_BR
2009-07-03, 10:31 AM
First, as it was mentioned, if the merchant is experient in it, he must have ways to deal with smartesses.

Then, you mix the options 2, 4, and 1, in that order.
2: Let them do it. It should be difficult, as mentioned.
4: Mob shows up against the "murderers";
1: Powerful law enforcers, paladins, and others do-gooders/headhunters will be sent to deal with a high level group that is murdering people in a village and looting their possessions. Hey, they want to act as villains, threat them as villains.

snoopy13a
2009-07-03, 10:38 AM
.

What you say is true. However, high level characters can commit what is, to them, low level crime, but is to the rest of the mostly level 1-5 world, a terrible atrocity.



It would still be a terrible atrocity to the level 16-20 good community.

Ok, suppose your high level party kills a low-level shopkeeper, here's what would likely happen:

1) Sooner or later the body is found and a small group of city guards (low level) investigates

2) If there is an eyewitness to the crime the guards start looking for the characters in patrols of 10 or so (level 1 and 2 NPCs) which they would believe is strong enough to defeat the players (little do they know)

3) If there isn't an eyewitness, a detective NPC takes the case and tries to find evidence to link the crime to the players. Since the players are high level, they probably could manufacture evidence to point to some hapless NPC. If the detective comes up with a suspect (either the players or some NPC the players are framing) then guard patrols are sent out to arrest them. If the detective can't find enough evidence, the players get off scot-free. Since it is only a lowly shopkeeper, the detective probably won't spend too much time on the case. So, if there is no eyewitness, the characters will probably get away with murder. It it were a more prominent NPC, the city guard would spend more time investigating and possibly use spells like speak with dead. If the NPC is rich enough, he or she may be raised.

4) If the players fight (and obviously kill) the guards then they have essentially become Public Enemies. Killing 10 guards is a big deal even if they are only level 1 or 2. Higher level authorities, good-aligned NPCs, and perhaps hired mercernaries are sent out. This second group will take awhile to be organized and will likely be 15-20 mid-level characters (they still don't know that the characters are very high level). Again, if they find the party, the party will make short work of them.

5) Now the party has killed a patrol of town guards and a posse of heroes. This makes them are infamous villians scorned throughout the land. This is when the big guns come out and you see your high level paladins, clerics of good deities, and good-aligned wizards, rogues, fighters, etc on the case. They will assemble a large group to take out the players. Fleeing is the best option here.

If the players flee, the response of the authorities depends on how bad their crimes were. If they only murdered the shopkeeper then they'd only get a small bounty placed on them which may not even be worth the money to collect. However, once they start killing the authorities, the bounty increases.

Once they are seen as murder suspects, descriptions and artist renditions of the players will be sent to all of the towns in the kingdom and there will be a chance (modified on how infamous the characters are) that town guards will recognize them (leading to a probable fatal encounter for the guards).

MickJay
2009-07-03, 02:03 PM
You can always mention that each of the shopkeepers they meet has a little sign on the front door indicating that he's paying the guild rates, which means that if he is attacked or robbed, a special group of mercenaries paid for by the guild will be dispatched to deal with extreme prejudice with the criminals responsible for the trouble. The more valuable wares, the higher the rates, the more powerful group would be dispatched. This can mean anything between another encounter, a challenging battle or TPK, depending on how exactly such arrangement is supposed to work in your setting, what your players (and you) want. Perfectly reasonable and mimics real world arrangements.

Also, plural for metropolis would be metropoleis. :smallwink:

Random832
2009-07-03, 02:24 PM
Houserule from my group in college - "Make a wisdom check" - if it fails, they do the stupid thing they said they were going to do, if it succeeds - well, the player ultimately gets to control the PC's actions, but since the check was a pretty clear warning, and an explanation will be provided "You realize this is pretty stupid because..." they usually won't.

This way you don't have to remember to provide the "they're paying the merchants guild rates so there will be consequences" fluff before they enter the shop.

awa
2009-07-03, 02:27 PM
One thing you have to watch out for is one person derailing the whole game. In every instance of attacking or stealing from shop keepers i have been in it was just one player going out on his own to do this.

In my opinion the only two viable options are the gentleman agreement and in story logical repercussions.

Keep in mind killing or depending on the situation killing a shop keeper is an evil and chaotic act and if the party has members with a enforced lawful or good alignment they cant just ignore these action not if they want to keep their class benefits.

Also if they have a decent sense motive or even intelligence they should be able to figure out what their allies doing from the various wanted posters forcing them to take action or risk loss of abilities. This of course wont work in an evil campaigns but if your playing an evil campaign you have to expect this kind of thing happening.

Devils_Advocate
2009-07-03, 02:30 PM
Tamerlain's Economy: The Murderocracy
"The soldier may die, but he must receive his pay."

Let's say that you don't want to exchange goods and services for other goods and services at all. Well, it's medieval times baby, there's totally another option. See, if you kill people by stabbing them in the face when they want to be paid for things, you don't have to pay for things. Indeed, if you have a big enough pack of gnolls at your back, you don't have to pay anything to anyone except your own personal posse of gnolls.

The disadvantages of this plan are obvious people get super pissed when they find out that you murdered their daughter because it was that or pay for a handful of radishes. But let's face it: if that old man can't do anything about it because you've got a pack of gnolls then seriously what's he going to do? And while this sort of thing is often as not the source for an adventure hook (some guy comes to you and whines about how his whole family was killed by orcs/gnolls/your mom/ ogres/demons/or whatever and suddenly you have to strike a blow for great justice), it is also a cold harsh reality that everyone in D&D land has to live with. Remember: no one has written The Rights of Man. Heck, no one has even written Leviathan. The fact that survivors of an attack may appeal to the better nature of adventurers is pretty much the only recompense that our gnoll posse might fear should they simply forcibly dispossess everyone in your village.

So people who have something that the really powerful people want are in a lot of danger. If a dirt farmer who does all of his bargaining in and around the turnip economy suddenly finds himself with a pile of rubies that's bad news. It's not that there aren't people who would be willing to trade that farmer fine clothing, good food, and even minor magic items for those rubies--there totally are. But a pile of rubies is just big enough that a Marilith might take time out of her busy schedule to teleport in and murder his whole family for them. And he's a dirt farmer, so there's no way he has the force needed to even pretend to have the force needed to stop her from doing it. So if you have planar currencies or powerful artifacts, you can't trade them to innkeepers and prostitutes. You can't even give them away save to other powerful people and organizations.

That doesn't mean that there isn't a peasant who runs around with a ring that casts charm person once a day or there isn't a minor bandit chief who happens to have a magic sword. Those guys totally exist and they may well wander the lands trying to parlay their tiny piece of asymmetric power into something more. But the vast majority of these guys don't go on to become famous adventurers or dark lords. They get their stuff taken away from them the first time they go head to head with someone with real power. Good or Evil, Lawful or Chaotic, no one wants some idiot to be running around with a ring that charms people because frankly that's the kind of dangerous accident that's just waiting to happen. If you happen to be powerful and see some small fry running around with some magic your natural inclination is to take it from them. It doesn't matter what your alignment is, it doesn't matter if the guy with the wand of lightning bolt is currently "abusing" it, the fact is that if you don't take magic items away from little fish one of your enemies will. There is no right to private property. No one owns anything, they just hold on to it until someone takes it from them.
- http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/community/gaming/dnd/archives/frankTrollmanFanservice&page=1&source=rss

There are beings with varying levels of power in existence who want valuables and who are willing to kill for them. However, not all powerful beings are necessarily interested in treasure. A griffon, for example, may collect shiny objects, but because it doesn't trade with humanoids, it doesn't know and frankly doesnt' care how much its stuff is worth to them.

So only some encounters guard treasures appropriate to their CRs. However, every collection of treasure will tend to be protected by an encounter of the appropriate level. Because if it remains insufficiently guarded long enough, someone will come along and take it. At high levels of power, there are entities who scan the multiverse with potent divinations for insufficiently protected loot and then zap in and take it. There are almost certainly entire organizations of devils who do this in order to finance the Blood War. So big treasures that aren't sufficiently hidden nor guarded don't just sit around long; they're snapped up pretty darned efficiently.

So, basically, a merchant makes it so that his goods don't take an unusually low amount of effort per unit value to acquire without his permission. Or else. So you're unlikely to find inadequately guarded stuff, because if it was easy to find, someone probably got to it already.

In some cases, something valuable, like a wand of scorching ray, will provide the possessor with the means to defend it. Some such items will even provide enough protection to allow the possessor can carry even more treasure and still deter attack. 3.5 PCs tend to fall into this to a significant degree: They have treasure way above the standard reward for their CR, but it enhances their combat effectiveness, so it's not a death sentence.

(A super geared-up encounter is a tougher challenge, but you probably don't have to worry about raising its CR. The PCs still get rewarded for the fight, just more in the form of treasure and less in the form of XP than usual. Sort of as if they had crafted some magic items. On the other hand, if the PCs have gear way above WBL, that might warrant a level adjustment as much as an unusually-powerful race.)

Mark Hall
2009-07-03, 02:48 PM
If he's dealing with orcs and doesn't expect some threatening, he's in the wrong line of business.

However, if they actually carry out their threat, there's one thing they need to be aware of: Guilds.

Many merchants will belong to, or be associated with, guilds of like merchants. If you threaten a merchant, and he thinks you'll go through with it, he's going to let his guild know that the "Warriors of the Broken Blade" (or what have you) are dangerous. They'll find prices higher. If they actually hurt a merchant (whether he deserved it or not), then the guild may well employ bounty hunters to come get these scoundrels. These may be low-level thugs, or they may be high-level law-and-order types who hunt bounties on people like this because its the right thing to do (and they take the money because, well, they need to eat, and there's nothing wrong with taking value for services).

So, yeah, they just handed you a plot hook.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-07-03, 02:54 PM
IMHO, just make all merchants Artificers. It explains how they get the magic items, and they can defend themselves against vastly disproportionate threats. By the time the PCs can kill a metamagic Wandificer of any given level, the loot they get won't be worth the trouble, especially since all the nearby merchants will refuse to deal with the PCs out of fear.

Lamech
2009-07-03, 03:02 PM
They are rich merchants in a merchants guild. If someone rips off a merchant they can pool their money with 19 other merchants and buy rings of three wishes. At CL 20 you can attempt to send 20 people into various spheres of annilation. Three times. Thats 1.67k per attempt. Unless they have SR they will go down for cheap. 33k average if a nat one is needed to die. And I'm guessing the PC's don't walk around with SR all the time.

And I'm going to guess not everyone has a +22 on their will save. Killing the PC's is a very valid option.

MickJay
2009-07-03, 04:21 PM
They're merchants, they don't have to buy that stuff, they already have it. Some of them are actually making it, too. Those merchants are the magicmarts where PCs buy all their fancy stuff - so theoretically speaking, they have the access to any magic item a PC can (now and in the future) buy before the PCs. :smallbiggrin:

Also, if someone's playing D&D (or any other RPG) based on medieval setting, then there won't be people with packs of gnolls attacking villages (at least, not often). Those packs of gnolls were precisely the reason why feudalism was invented - farmers were under the protection of a knight, who was under the protection of a baron, who was under the protection of a duke (or who owed allegiance to the monarch directly). People messing with the farmers are bad for the income, so they get disposed of (sooner or later). Now, if it was a bronze age or early iron age setting, then yes, those packs of raiders might be a plausible reality of life - and the barter economy is going to be more prominent, too.

Theres
2009-07-04, 04:46 PM
But this falls under number one option.
I think it is unrealistic because
1) such powerful beings should be rare
2) if such people were always there, why didn't THEY solve your quest? I mean, in Morrowind (if you know the game) those f..king guards are beatable only around level 40, and you completed the main quest by then. So why they just did not send the guards to kill all the demons?

the truth be told is that around level 15-20 you could effectively wipe out an entire city in morrowind alebit after getting some serious scrapes and bruises but all the guards would be dead and the reason you do all the quests in the game is because your the re-incarnate of a deity of war so would you rather hire jhonny no name the local cop or nerevar reborn wielder of magical gear he looted from dead demons? invincible police would just annoy everyone but seeing as how there orcs a marketplace brawl would ensue.

Grazhendul
2009-07-04, 05:35 PM
Post an add at the local inn reading 'Adventure Party wanted to rid local merchants from extorters'

Let some known band of paladins look interested at the note.

Devils_Advocate
2009-07-07, 10:41 PM
Also, if someone's playing D&D (or any other RPG) based on medieval setting, then there won't be people with packs of gnolls attacking villages (at least, not often). Those packs of gnolls were precisely the reason why feudalism was invented - farmers were under the protection of a knight, who was under the protection of a baron, who was under the protection of a duke (or who owed allegiance to the monarch directly). People messing with the farmers are bad for the income, so they get disposed of (sooner or later). Now, if it was a bronze age or early iron age setting, then yes, those packs of raiders might be a plausible reality of life - and the barter economy is going to be more prominent, too.
Yeah, Frank Trollman generally talks about D&D as an Iron Age setting in terms of social organization. (Obviously it's not technologically Iron Age nor medieval, since there's magic.) So I think that his description of this phenomenon as prominent in "medieval times" may have been a misstatement on his part.

Riffington
2009-07-07, 11:10 PM
Yeah, Frank Trollman generally talks about D&D as an Iron Age setting in terms of social organization. (Obviously it's not technologically Iron Age nor medieval, since there's magic.) So I think that his description of this phenomenon as prominent in "medieval times" may have been a misstatement on his part.

Besides, in general if a society is organized to try to protect itself against something, that something should be a credible threat. So if feudalism is designed to protect against bands of raiders, that should imply that raiders are (or were quite recently) a real problem.

Xplo
2009-07-07, 11:41 PM
The way you make it sound is that D&D players are like hyperactive children, the game D&D is a chore they have to perform, and the DM is babysitting them all, 'focusing' them into doing that chore whenever they deviate from it.

You've never spent time as a GM, I take it. :smalltongue:


If people of such high level can be spared to inact retribution for killing a simple shopkeeper, then why doesn't civilization exist on separately owned Timeless Demiplanes that endlessly spawn feasts and extradimensional prostitutes so that mankind is immortal and doesn't have to deal with each other or any problems at all ever again?

'Cause thats what large amounts of level 17+ people can do. Trivially, in fact.

Which raises the question - why don't they?

"I'm retiring my PC."
"What?"
"Retiring. He's going to spend the rest of his life in a pocket dimension, surrounded by material extravagance and alternately spending his time eating fantastic food and drink and doing the nasty with groups of improbably hot exotic whores until he suffers some kind of enviable death."
"But what about The Great Epic Plot Line?"
"Yeah.. no. He's considered his options and this is clearly the best one."

. . .


Anyway.. the guy who said that anyone who can't guard their treasure won't be able to hang onto it was right. A giant pile of beneficial magic items is a hell of a prize; anyone who's sitting on one must have the ability to protect it against some pretty bad dudes. That almost certainly includes the PCs. This means that the shop owner is presumably a pretty high level character, or else he has some high-level friends for protection, or else he has a lot of guards (possibly more high-level characters, monsters, golems, or something of the sort), or a boatload of magical traps and curses to unload on anyone who messes with him.. or, preferably, all of them at once.

Which is the way it has to be. If you don't like that answer, then either you need to rethink the whole "magic shop" idea, or you need to go ahead and let magic shops be treasure dumps just waiting for some PC with limited scruples to appropriate.

Putting that aside... As a general rule, enforcing plausible consequences is the way to deal with this kind of behavior in any game. The PCs can't take on the whole multiverse, but they're welcome to try.

Myrmex
2009-07-08, 12:31 AM
Have them fight the merchant, who is a powerful wizard, something the guard summons (like a fiend or guards or what have you), or a series of lethal traps. Their reward? CR equivalent loot and a bad reputation!

Just turn it into a CR+2 challenge.

Devils_Advocate
2009-07-08, 01:08 AM
"I'm retiring my PC."
I'm not an expert on D&D's history, but I believe that this used to be expected. It was assumed that high-level characters were busy ruling nations or leading churches or researching spells in wizard towers and that when they needed some monsters killed, they generally sent someone else to do it. Or something to that effect.

An early series of rulesets even had characters progress from neophyte adventurer to hero to ruler to demigod, didn't it?

I don't think that 3rd Edtition talks enough about the probable place of PCs in society. There are assumptions built in about when a character will likely gain a stat-raising Tome, but not about when he'll likely gain his own stronghold. The latter seems like it should be more important, yet e.g. the Leadership feat seems to be a bit of an afterthought.

Myrmex
2009-07-08, 01:36 AM
I don't think that 3rd Edtition talks enough about the probable place of PCs in society. There are assumptions built in about when a character will likely gain a stat-raising Tome, but not about when he'll likely gain his own stronghold. The latter seems like it should be more important, yet e.g. the Leadership feat seems to be a bit of an afterthought.

Actually, there's considerable support for PCs gaining their own fief or stronghold or church or whatever in both 3.0 & 3.5 DMGs, as well DMG2, the Stronghold Builders Guide, as well as a smattering of option in Completes & other splatbooks. Two prestige classes off the top of my head center around rising through the ranks- Mage of the Arcane Order and Spellsword. The Spellsword even has a high level character for you to defeat in single combat so you may take her place at the head of the Spellswords.

It's just not given a break down by which level it should be at, likely because the designers saying "every PC gets a castle at level 10" would be sorta silly for a game like D&D.

Waspinator
2009-07-08, 01:36 AM
There's always the Warcraft method. The not-terribly-sane goblin merchant has wired his store with enough explosives to devastate a two-mile radius. Guess what he does with his dying breath if someone manages to fatally wound him?

Devils_Advocate
2009-07-08, 02:07 AM
Ah, maybe I'm just not familiar enough with the DMGs, then.

oxinabox
2009-07-08, 04:47 AM
You can actually kill them around level 15-20 with a bit of optimization.

Being a Redguard+Adrenaline Rush+Health Potion Pile usually helps. :smalltongue:
.
with a bit more optimisation (plus back ground knowledge of some nice quest rewards) you can actually beat them at lvl 3. I had a Nord+dadric battle ax (with absorb health enchantment) + full ebony

Now back on topic:
I say the mechanic of the game does (or should) take into account

I like the Idea that Devils_Advocate stated: natural selection anything that has items of value will be of sufficient strength to keep it.
Now depending on how anacharistic your world is (if its full orced out then i would say above average) this should hold true in cities.
Another theif would have gotten in before the PC's and already stolen/coerced the goods, unless they were suficently protected.
Either the merchant can protect himself ether though combat or narative combat

Eg narrative combat: This is from one of my 4e games , where the bartender total outclasses the PC. I swing my ax at the bugbear barterer.
me: he grabs you are by the handle cutting you swing short. he then bends it around until you cna feel your wrist are on the verge of breaking. "Lets not have anyof the here huh?"
If the PC's had continued to fight then we would have rolled inititive then they would have got pummeled.
Or he hires someone to protect him.
if he has items. he has ether the skill to protect them (eg he earnt them through battle/adventure) or he has the money to hire someone to protect them (eg he made them, then sold them and so made money, so hired guards).

also
The mechanic must expect some stealing to go on. why else have a sleight of hand skill.
You want to make stealling a challenge, but not make it impossible.

Dixieboy
2009-07-08, 04:54 AM
I fail to see the problem with threatening people.

kamikasei
2009-07-08, 05:16 AM
I fail to see the problem with threatening people.

You don't see a problem with a scenario where people with lots of wealth have no defense against their customers roughing them up and taking what they want? How did they get and keept that wealth in the first place, then?

Dixieboy
2009-07-08, 05:42 AM
You don't see a problem with a scenario where people with lots of wealth have no defense against their customers roughing them up and taking what they want? How did they get and keept that wealth in the first place, then?

:smallannoyed:

Wanna rethink that one?

kamikasei
2009-07-08, 05:46 AM
:smallannoyed:

Wanna rethink that one?

...why would I? If I've misunderstood you somehow, please point out my error, because I'm not seeing it.

Dixieboy
2009-07-08, 06:53 AM
Know what?

I'll just take it you value convenience over realism and not get into an argument here :smalltongue:

kamikasei
2009-07-08, 07:10 AM
No, by all means, let's get in to an argument. What else is a forum for? I have no idea what you're talking about, and I'm curious now. Please, explain what you meant and how I've apparently misunderstood you.

Realism is exactly the issue. If the merchants the PCs deal with have no way to prevent higher-level customers from simply taking their wares without payment, then you wouldn't expect those merchants to be in business unless high-level characters are very rare. Is your perspective that the PCs are essentially demigods once they're high enough level, and therefore should be able to shove around lowly shopkeeps at their whim? (An attitude essentially expressed by the "someone with a +3 sword to sell doesn't just have a stall in the market" posters earlier, and not an unreasonable one.) Or do you think PCs should be free to make threats but the in-game consequences of following through on them should be severe, leading to the game-consuming flight from the law the OP described and we had some discussion around? Or are you trying to say something else all together?

Halaster
2009-07-08, 07:10 AM
I like the idea of the Murderocracy. It gives some sort of internal logic to D&Ds otherwise somewhat arbitrary "CR equals treasure" setting. A monster has exactly the treasure it has, because if it had more, it would be sought out by creatures looking for the stuff, thus redistributing it upwards, and if it had less, it would do that same thing to lesser beings.

That applies to demihumans, too. If a village of mudfarmers had a merchant in it, who sells magical stuff, it would get a dragon flying in, burning the place up and carrying off the loot. Therefore, such a merchant would have to settle in a big city, where high-level guards and magical protection is available and where dragons have the life expectancy of snowballs in hell. So do uppity adventurers who think they can get away with stuff.

Now, you can always have a situation in which a random guy stumbles across something powerful and then offers it to the heroes. He would probably be glad to be rid of the thing anyway and make them a special offer, because he knows there are much, much nastier folk out there, who wouldn't even consider negotiating.

All that has nothing to do with feudalism or not. Effectively, a feudal holding is just a high-CR encounter that can guard its treasure well. So is a barbarian tribe, a roman legion camp or a modern police force.

Simply stick to that paradigm and you won't even have to explain to your players how stupid that would be.

BTW, for a good look at how D&D settings handle this, check the Forgotten Realms. Every larger city is run by a high-level character who acts as its ruler and protector, or several of those. If you threaten or murder merchants in Waterdeep, you will have to answer to the likes of Khelben Blackstaff.

Killer Angel
2009-07-08, 07:21 AM
Realism is exactly the issue. If the merchants the PCs deal with have no way to prevent higher-level customers from simply taking their wares without payment, then you wouldn't expect those merchants to be in business unless high-level characters are very rare.

Not only this is true, but if such high level characters are rare, i cannot imagine a merchant who can afford to keep in his store, magic item for a complessive value of 100k gp, "blocked", waiting for said adventurers.
If high-level advent. are rare, so are the merchants who can have high-level items... and these merchants will guard their treasure with high precautions.

Probably (i don't really know) Dixieboy, for "realism", intend that a group of high level adventurers, who fight (and kill) demons and dragons, spamming high level spells, are simply too much strong for any precaution that can be reasonably assembled by a merchant... otherwise, the cost of those system security, will be too high.

kamikasei
2009-07-08, 07:23 AM
If high-level advent. are rare, so are the merchants who can have high-level items... and these merchants will guard their treasure with high precautions.

Yeah, the "high-end magic items are treasures of the powerful or only available in the City of Brass" kind of model. Yet another way that the D&D economy, as an economy, fails.

Killer Angel
2009-07-08, 07:30 AM
Yeah, the "high-end magic items are treasures of the powerful or only available in the City of Brass" kind of model. Yet another way that the D&D economy, as an economy, fails.

Well, given that I don't like magic shops, I don't find this unreasonable.
After all, if you can afford to buy a real Picasso, were can you find it?
Only by a private, or in very few places in all the world: Sotheby's, etc.

So, for high level magic items, it's not unreasonable to have only a couple of places in the world, were you can buy them.

Kemper Boyd
2009-07-08, 07:45 AM
Well, given that I don't like magic shops, I don't find this unreasonable.
After all, if you can afford to buy a real Picasso, were can you find it?
Only by a private, or in very few places in all the world: Sotheby's, etc.

So, for high level magic items, it's not unreasonable to have only a couple of places in the world, were you can buy them.

This is pretty much how I've always imagined it. Take Eberron, for example, which has way more magic items available to society in general than any other D&D setting (perhaps apart from Sigil in Planescape).

Your average village doesn't have "shops". It might have a grocer, maybe a drug store. Since some magic items are common, a grocer might have healing potions or some small trinkets available, but they're probably a bit more expensive out in the country. Not worth robbing.

A small town may have a few artificers or magewrights who manufacture small amounts of basic magic items. Sometimes a shopkeeper (note: this kind of town doesn't have a magical emporium) may have for sale a few military surplus wands or some more esoteric items. Not really worth robbing unless you are desperate.

A large city like Sharn has actual magical emporiums and for something more esoteric you are going to have to turn to contract work with an artificer or House Cannith. And these kind of people tend to have patrons, allies and connections, probably more than the average PC has. Here you could actually make some profit from robbing a merchant, but he's going to drop the hammer on you.

And a Dragonmarked house like Cannith dropping the hammer on PC's is going to hurt.

kamikasei
2009-07-08, 07:51 AM
To clarify, I think it's reasonable to say that high-end magic items are only available from powerful individuals, as rewards from dangerous exploits, or in trade on planar metropoli. My objection isn't that this breaks the D&D economy but that the economy as implied by the books doesn't take very good account of it. It takes a stab at it with the GP limits of settlements and the like, but the fascinating potential of a system where the powerful can literally create lesser valuables from nothing isn't really explored.

Knaight
2009-07-08, 07:55 AM
The question arisen in mind, though, is: how do you fellow DMs behave when PCs threaten your item-dealing otherwise-transparent nameless merchant (i mean nameless because there should be none, i invented him on the spot)?

It depends on the resources of the merchant. If its a merchant selling very expensive goods (anything magical in most fantasy settings, star ships in the like in sci-fi), then either the police types get involved, private mercenaries are hired, or assassins are brought in. If they aren't rich then police types get involved, provided its a setting where that would work. Then there is setting specific stuff.

Killer Angel
2009-07-08, 09:05 AM
To clarify, I think it's reasonable to say that high-end magic items are only available from powerful individuals, as rewards from dangerous exploits, or in trade on planar metropoli. My objection isn't that this breaks the D&D economy but that the economy as implied by the books doesn't take very good account of it. It takes a stab at it with the GP limits of settlements and the like, but the fascinating potential of a system where the powerful can literally create lesser valuables from nothing isn't really explored.

Ah, OK.
Yes, this is an aspect not developed at all.
And a powerful pc (even a moderately powerful one), with the right feats, wich begins to create magical items, can have a great impact on such economy.

In my last campaign, I ruled that the art of creating the most precious items, was forgotten, and the magic Items ('specially the ones with higher prize) were very rare, and usually properties of nobles, warlords, Kingdoms' treasury, etc.
As the PC's grows in level, and their contacts (AKA social network) became more powerful, they have access to this items ('cause if you're working as a trusthworthy team for the patriarch of one of the main dwarven clans, you have some advantage).

EDIT: D&D manuals maybe don't explore it, but Tippy surely yes... :smallsmile:

Skaven
2009-07-08, 10:28 AM
Don't punish the players in a metagame sort of way for making purely in character decisions in the game world. Work with their decisions.

This.

They're Orcs.

Orcs dont do sunshine and roses.

Also: why punish people for roleplaying? Why is this even a problem? So he threatened one merchant as an Orc.. whats the problem?

kamikasei
2009-07-08, 10:35 AM
Also: why punish people for roleplaying? Why is this even a problem? So he threatened one merchant as an Orc.. whats the problem?

Did anyone say anything about punishing them? The question was what should happen, not how to make the players miserable.

FatR
2009-07-08, 01:15 PM
Basically, the only viable answer to extortion by sufficiently high-level PCs is to make PCs interested at not ruining the merchant's business. Say (for low to low-mid levels), the merchant can procure the good stuff for them, but the magic items don't just lie in his shop - they must be specifically commissioned, and PCs obviously cannot do so if the merchant is dead. Any attempt to put PCs down by force is going to raise big questions about the game's internal consistency, if said PCs are supposed to deal with threats that locals cannot deal with on regular basis.
This applies to interaction of DnD PCs with society in general, by the way.

In Warhammer, however, PCs are far less powerful, so the society can treat even relatively experienced adventurers as normal armed criminals, not as one-man armies. So, why just not unleash whatever passes for local law enforcement on them?

Enguhl
2009-07-08, 01:41 PM
2) if such people were always there, why didn't THEY solve your quest? I mean, in Morrowind (if you know the game) those f..king guards are beatable only around level 40, and you completed the main quest by then. So why they just did not send the guards to kill all the demons?

WHAAATTT? If you're talking about the ordinators I've killed one at level 2..
then raided the redoran vault >_>

On topic, my favorite thing to do is deck a bodyguard out in magic items. After all, if a guy owns the shop, he can just pay the guards by letting them borrow some of his wares

FatR
2009-07-08, 03:43 PM
Putting that aside... As a general rule, enforcing plausible consequences is the way to deal with this kind of behavior in any game. The PCs can't take on the whole multiverse, but they're welcome to try.
That's not "plausible consequences". That's punishing PCs for evil behavior, pure and simple. The same applies to every single post that suggested burying PCs under swiftly excalating threats. The fact is, every single DnD setting assumes that bad guys kill people for money (or other purposes) every day and get away with this, and authorities often are so incompetent or overwhelmed, that without adventurers' intervention their city/country/world is completely screwed. Also no one cares about the whole multiverse as long as PCs can stomp flat the part of it that actually cares about things that happen to a particular merchant. Which they often can. For example, my current 3.5 party consists of pretty nice guys, but their recent exploits made rather obvious, that they are more competent that the entire standing army of the kingdom they live in. They can pretty much take over, if they want - it would require work, of course, but it is doable at their current level. Who's going to tell them to treat shopkeepers nicely? (Guys from whom they buy magical bling are another matter, as they have powerful connections beyond said kingdom, but "powerful connections" still don't mean "can call one of the few and precious teleporting death squads" - the said squad wouldn't materialize unless PCs are persistent at killing off the local representatives or otherwise really ask for it.)

Devils_Advocate
2009-07-08, 07:29 PM
To clarify, I think it's reasonable to say that high-end magic items are only available from powerful individuals, as rewards from dangerous exploits, or in trade on planar metropoli. My objection isn't that this breaks the D&D economy but that the economy as implied by the books doesn't take very good account of it. It takes a stab at it with the GP limits of settlements and the like, but the fascinating potential of a system where the powerful can literally create lesser valuables from nothing isn't really explored.
You should read what Frank & K have to say about high-level economics (http://paizo.com/paizo/messageboards/paizoPublishing/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG/feedback/alpha1/general/highLevelEconomics4h9h7) and the Wish Economy:


(note: assumes that we use 3e wish as opposed to the broken 3.5 version):

An Efreet can provide a wish for any magical item of 15,000 gp or less. A Balor can greater teleport at will, but can only carry 30 pounds of currency while doing so. Even in platinum pieces, that's 15,000 gp worth of metal. The long and the short of it is – at the upper end of the economy currency has no particular purchasing power and magic items of 15,000 gp value or less are viewed as wooden nickels at best. You can spend 15,000 gp and get magic items, but people in the know won't sell you a magic item worth 15,001 gp for money. That kind of item can only be bought for love. Or human souls. Or some other planar currency that is not replicable by chain binding a room full of Efreet to make in bulk.

Powerful characters actually can have bat caves that have sword racks literally covered in 15,000 gp magic items. It's not even a deal because they could just go home and slap some Efreet around and get some more. But even a single major magic item – that's heavy stuff that such characters will notice. Those things don't come free with hope alone, and every archmage knows that.
I'd personally allow wish to create any item (magical or mundane) worth up to 25,000 gp or less for no additional XP cost, but nothing above that. That figure is the amount of mundane wealth that 3.5's wish lets you create anyway; it's consistent with the cost of XP components for spellcasting (5 gp per XP); and various outsiders can teleport up to 50 pounds of objects with them now. See how nicely that all fits together?

Charging extra XP for more expensive items doesn't really balance things, because it's too easy to get another creature to pay that XP cost for you. So instead of figuring out how to prevent all the possible methods to do that, we just set an upper limit on how much wealth one casting of wish can create. I can almost feel how less potentially abusable that is.

Incidentally, if you think it's implausible for the universe to know how valuable things are, you're looking at it the wrong way around. Gold is worth exactly ten times as much as silver in D&D (unlike in real life) because a single casting of wish can produce ten times as heavy a lump of silver as it can a lump of gold. And so on. If market fluctuations cause one wishable commodity to sell for more than others, then those who wish for trade goods will tend to wish up wealth in the form of that commodity until its increased availability eventually drives the price back down to 25,000 gp per what can be created by one casting of wish. So it's a fairly inevitable balance.


High Level Characters Can Get Lots of Money
This has ever been so. In AD&D days they just handed out millions of gold pieces on occasion. There were cities made of precious metals. And we made spells like planar binding and plane shift that would give you as much money as you wanted, because it seriously didn't matter. And now these spells and planes are still around.

We seriously need to just accept the vast piles of gold that high level characters have, and adapt our economies to fit. In AD&D (1st and 2nd edition), we forbade characters from spending these piles of gold on ever more powerful magic swords, and in return we were rewarded by having the game not break when people did crazy crap to get gold, and we were rewarded by having characters not getting punished by spending gold they did earn on having fancy homes and hiring people to raise horses (or whatever) on your behalf.

The game is better if we segregate the gold expenditures out from the things higher level characters want and need to do. And by "better" I mean works at all.
In short, the listed prices for high-end magic items tell you how hard they are to craft, give you an idea of how much they're worth relative to each other, and other things; and for such purposes those prices are useful. The problem is the implication that you can buy any damn thing with enough wheelbarrows of gold, which is clearly insane; beyond some point, it's like trying to buy a house with pennies. The process of using lots of relatively low-value items -- and for some purchases, that includes gold coins -- to obtain arbitrarily high-value items has to at the very least be so arduous that it's questionable whether it's worth the bother. Because D&D characters are capable of acquiring indefinite amounts of relatively low-value items. This should work at all levels of the economy, so that whether a character is making Perform checks, casting fabricate, extorting wishes from a powerful outsider, or creating his own private demiplane filled with precious gems, he's not breaking the game.

So using wall of iron and fabricate to make weapons and armor isn't a huge deal so long as you don't let the PCs skip over finding people to buy them all and transform them directly into gold, and also don't allow them to transform huge piles of gold directly into magic items of whatever value. That's like letting the players skip over a dungeon crawl and just handing out treasure and XP. Forget about ruining game balance; it outright smashes verisimilitude to treat the transactions involved as so trivial that they can just be abstracted away. If you're being remotely realistic, the transactions involved will include some risk, consume significant time and effort, and probably contain plenty of interesting detail.
Whether it's robbing people, selling and buying stuff, ruling a nation, or good ol' killing monsters for their treasure, nothing should be so easy and so good a deal that nearly everyone of the PCs' level ought to be doing it already, unless nearly everyone of the PC's level is doing it already.

Lamech
2009-07-08, 08:08 PM
Powerful characters actually can have bat caves that have sword racks literally covered in 15,000 gp magic items. It's not even a deal because they could just go home and slap some Efreet around and get some more. But even a single major magic item – that's heavy stuff that such characters will notice. Those things don't come free with hope alone, and every archmage knows that.
About this whole slapping efreets around. It would go something like this:
Wizard: High efreet, wanna skip the midn control and just grant me...
Efreet: I thought you guys were smart. I have wish.
Wizard: Umm... yeah bluff fail. You can't grant your own wishes.
Efreet: I have slaaves. For the sole sake of being evil, simulacrums would be much better. One of them wished me to Extracting Revenge on Stupid Wizards Inc. and the most recent person to bind me in to a sphere of annihilation. 217 times. I haven't granted them yet.
Wizard: Well the diagram stops you from escaping, and prevents you from attacking me. Fail.
Efreet: Err... thats what I call a local condition. *Escapes and kills Wizard.*

Alternitvly:
Wizard: I think I'm going to bind a Efreet tod-
Get wished into a sphere of annilation because Efreets have acess to contact other plane which can get the answer to any question including: Whats the first/middle/last name of the next wizard to bind me?

You do not slap around Efreets. You die. Several days before you try.


That's not "plausible consequences". That's punishing PCs for evil behavior, pure and simple. The same applies to every single post that suggested burying PCs under swiftly excalating threats. The fact is, every single DnD setting assumes that bad guys kill people for money (or other purposes) every day and get away with this, and authorities often are so incompetent or overwhelmed, that without adventurers' intervention their city/country/world is completely screwed. Also no one cares about the whole multiverse as long as PCs can stomp flat the part of it that actually cares about things that happen to a particular merchant. Which they often can. For example, my current 3.5 party consists of pretty nice guys, but their recent exploits made rather obvious, that they are more competent that the entire standing army of the kingdom they live in. They can pretty much take over, if they want - it would require work, of course, but it is doable at their current level. Who's going to tell them to treat shopkeepers nicely? (Guys from whom they buy magical bling are another matter, as they have powerful connections beyond said kingdom, but "powerful connections" still don't mean "can call one of the few and precious teleporting death squads" - the said squad wouldn't materialize unless PCs are persistent at killing off the local representatives or otherwise really ask for it.)I believe a guild of merchants would have no trouble pooling their resources to kill some pesky robbers. Probably by using rings of three wishes. In fact if your kingdom has the resources to build castles they have the resources to do the exact same thing to the PC's. And other kingdom's will fear they are next. So yeah the PC's can easily be stomped.

Of course this clashes with the idea of a BBEG. I really think this is one of those things your not supposed to look to closely at. Like the rules for buying stuff. "We can buy 15 swords, or we can buy 30 scrolls, but not both because of the gp limit. What should be buy team?" Or why traps haven't fixed everything thats wrong with mideval times. Or why Efreets don't have their slaves wish anyone who will ever threaten them into a sphere of annilation.

Jayngfet
2009-07-08, 08:14 PM
I'm thinking anyone who can sell multiple magic items the PC's need has the kind of foresight and power necessary to fend such people off. After all, the PC's aren't the only adventurers and they certainly aren't the most psychotic people in the world.

Jack_Simth
2009-07-08, 08:15 PM
If merchants are easy to rob, it breaks versimilitude: If they were easy to rob, they wouldn't be in business long.

If most/all merchants of significance are overly powerful, it breaks versimilitude: Why, then, don't THEY handle this country-ending event?

There's a fairly simple solution:
Ring Gates (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#ringGates).

The merchant you're dealing with is just a salesman. The item is in stock... but it's in a secured warehouse 50-100 miles away. When he takes your money and goes to the back room, he's not fetching the item from the back room. He's writing something down on parchment and paper, and tossing that through with the money. On the other side, you've got a central location - which is highly secured (only two or three people ever need access to it - so it's chock-full of magical traps - Glyphs of Warding, Symbol Spells, and so on - layer upon layer of Permanent or Instant spell traps that can be set to ignore a small number of highly specific people). Someone waiting on the other side of that ring gate counts the money, checks it against the slip of paper, fetches the item, and tosses it back through the gate. The merchant you're dealing with then takes it to you. The merchant then gets a commission later on.

There will be some things in his shop - however, the stuff that's out for display is the stuff that's not salable - it's cursed in some way as to make it useless in the normal run of events. He'll have one or two items designed for mass transport of large quantities of trade goods to fit his situation (a Portable Hole has no listed interaction with Ring Gates; however, it needs to be cursed in some way as to arrange for it to be useless for most purposes - maybe it spits out all it's contents after five minutes or some such), and he'll have his personal items that he purchased out of his 1% commission over hundreds of transactions. But for the most part, beating him up and taking his stuff doesn't help... because he's not the one with the goods.

Edit:
As a side effect, this also explains standardized pricing - there's one small group that pretty much has a monopoly on the magic trade.

Edit 2:
Additionally, this also gives you a good idea as to how it'll go if you rob the merchants. Get one? Eh, you'll probably be ignored. Make a habit of it? You'll draw the attention of the owners as you appear to be trying to muscle in on their turf - which rates reprisals.

Frosty
2009-07-09, 12:40 AM
Good aligned PCs won't be robbing/killing merchants.

Evil PCs are expected to do stuff like this, and it becomes an increasingly escalated challenge. Should the PCs actually destroy an entire Kingdom, then they will probably get noticed by devils and they will have the backing of devils to start making war on good-aligned kingdoms.

FatR
2009-07-09, 02:14 AM
I believe a guild of merchants would have no trouble pooling their resources to kill some pesky robbers.
PCs isn't "some pesky robbers", past certain level. Note, that most adventures for mid-high level presume that guilds and other local authorities are totally freaking incapable of saving their bacon and PCs are the only thing that stands between them and certain doom.


Probably by using rings of three wishes.
In other words, by GM's fiat, because Wish does not normally allow you such things.


In fact if your kingdom has the resources to build castles they have the resources to do the exact same thing to the PC's.
No, they don't. No one sells Rings of Three Wishes on open market in my game or any other sane game that isn't explicitly built on Wish economy. And in many games that are. Ever. Period. Even though they don't even work as you think, it is the same as selling nukes, and people just don't do that. The same applies to other expensive magic items. Unless you're a very good friend or, as a minimum, trustworthy and proven ally of a caster who makes them, you cannot buy or comission them. Merchants probably don't cut it, because they likely have almost nothing in common with a high-level spellcaster and cannot offer him anything that would make them worth allying with. Adventurers, of course, get around that by killing people and taking their stuff/excavating old dungeons.


And other kingdom's will fear they are next.
They will be next for sure if they mess with (now-former) adventurers, and they will know it.


So yeah the PC's can easily be stomped.
Only in the insane campaign, which no one plays, because there is no reason to play them, as PCs obviously have nothing to do.


Or why Efreets don't have their slaves wish anyone who will ever threaten them into a sphere of annilation.
Because this wish sends the efreet himself into a sphere of annihilation, as soon as he does something rash or foolish, thus threatening himself.

Avilan the Grey
2009-07-09, 03:28 AM
PCs isn't "some pesky robbers", past certain level.
(snipping a lot of replies)


I don't think it is unreasonable at all. There is always a bigger fish.

If you rob a normal shopkeeper, the local guard, or lawman, or posse will get you. Unless you rob the local grocer when you are double-digit level, but why would you? Just to piss the DM off?

If you rob the wandering trader of misc. goods, his bodyguards, traps and associates will try to get you. By now you might be high enough level to survive. For now. You might get away with it once, but if you start picking off trade caravans and other mid-level shops etc the shop-keepers guild, the thieves guild, the Mage guild etc will start paying attention. Several options opens up, like a general bounty on the PCs, an out-right contract with a equal-level adventurer's party than the players, or a contract with the assassin's guild. Nothing says "naughty boy!" as being killed in your sleep...

If you hit the major places, like Bigby Mart, the players have brought their doom on themselves.

It is not a matter of "getting even with the players". It's "I can't believe you are stupid enough to think you are getting away with that".

FatR
2009-07-09, 08:44 AM
I don't think it is unreasonable at all. There is always a bigger fish.

If you rob a normal shopkeeper, the local guard, or lawman, or posse will get you. Unless you rob the local grocer when you are double-digit level, but why would you? Just to piss the DM off?

If you rob the wandering trader of misc. goods, his bodyguards, traps and associates will try to get you. By now you might be high enough level to survive. For now. You might get away with it once, but if you start picking off trade caravans and other mid-level shops etc the shop-keepers guild, the thieves guild, the Mage guild etc will start paying attention. Several options opens up, like a general bounty on the PCs, an out-right contract with a equal-level adventurer's party than the players, or a contract with the assassin's guild. Nothing says "naughty boy!" as being killed in your sleep...
Again, we talk about the world where bad guys kill people and get away with it all the time. Also, the essence of your argument is that PCs should be OK if they antagonize baddest, most violent beings in their vicinity on regular basis (that's what adventurers do after all), but would stop being OK if they antagonize much softer targets, such as merchants. And this is obvious bull$hit. Just ban evil parties, if you don't like sociopathic PCs, instead of pulling such stupidity.


If you hit the major places, like Bigby Mart, the players have brought their doom on themselves.

It is not a matter of "getting even with the players". It's "I can't believe you are stupid enough to think you are getting away with that".
Why shouldn't I think so, if I just punked some global threat? If I still shouldn't, how the heck this threat wasn't easily dispatched by All-Powerful Merchants? See, the premise that PCs are at all important and their choices are meaningful (and why play DnD, of all games, if your PC aren't supposed to be?), is utterly incompatible with "can't get away with anything" attitude. If PCs are indeed mighty heroes, they can get away with a lot. Period.
By the way, really powerful people have no freaking reason to run magic marts. Because they have ways to obtain money that do not require parting with their XP. If they sell magic items at all, they do so to supply their allies and followers.

Saph
2009-07-09, 08:55 AM
Again, we talk about the world where bad guys kill people and get away with it all the time. Also, the essence of your argument is that PCs should be OK if they antagonize baddest, most violent beings in their vicinity on regular basis (that's what adventurers do after all), but would stop being OK if they antagonize much softer targets, such as merchants. And this is obvious bull$hit.

It's much more inconvenient to be hated in the city where you live and where your family lives than it is to be hated by Dark Lord Whatever who lives in Mordor several hundred miles away. Just saying.

But if you choose to run games this way - that adventurers can take stuff whenever they want and nobody can stop them - then the inevitable consequence is that there are no magic item shops. Anywhere. Because no merchant is going to pay a fortune for goods that he can't defend. In the long run, this actually cripples the PCs quite heavily, because there's no reliable way for them to convert their currency and unwanted items into useful stuff. Casters with item creation feats are fine, anyone who can't make their own gear is shafted.

- Saph

FatR
2009-07-09, 09:32 AM
It's much more inconvenient to be hated in the city where you live and where your family lives than it is to be hated by Dark Lord Whatever who lives in Mordor several hundred miles away. Just saying.
Depends on whether citizens of the city can pull scry&fry on you or soultrap your family :smallsmile:.


But if you choose to run games this way - that adventurers can take stuff whenever they want and nobody can stop them - then the inevitable consequence is that there are no magic item shops.
Of course there are no magic shops. Both because you can't keep your magic items from all sorts of robbers unless you are high level and, again, because no one sells nukes on open market. No one sells even MBTs. You can sell them to people you like and want to support, though. So PCs who want to buy items better should find some serious patrons or allies.


Anywhere. Because no merchant is going to pay a fortune for goods that he can't defend. In the long run, this actually cripples the PCs quite heavily, because there's no reliable way for them to convert their currency and unwanted items into useful stuff. Casters with item creation feats are fine, anyone who can't make their own gear is shafted.
A party without casters is completely shafted anyway, but this and how I rectify this is off-topic.

Lamech
2009-07-09, 10:16 AM
PCs isn't "some pesky robbers", past certain level. Note, that most adventures for mid-high level presume that guilds and other local authorities are totally freaking incapable of saving their bacon and PCs are the only thing that stands between them and certain doom.


In other words, by GM's fiat, because Wish does not normally allow you such things.
Err... yeah wish (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/Wish.htm) does allow you to kill people you don't like.

Transport travelers. A wish can lift one creature per caster level from anywhere on any plane and place those creatures anywhere else on any plane regardless of local conditions. An unwilling target gets a Will save to negate the effect, and spell resistance (if any) applies. Sphere of annilation FTW



No, they don't. No one sells Rings of Three Wishes on open market in my game or any other sane game that isn't explicitly built on Wish economy. And in many games that are. Ever. Period. Even though they don't even work as you think, it is the same as selling nukes, and people just don't do that. The same applies to other expensive magic items. Unless you're a very good friend or, as a minimum, trustworthy and proven ally of a caster who makes them, you cannot buy or comission them. Merchants probably don't cut it, because they likely have almost nothing in common with a high-level spellcaster and cannot offer him anything that would make them worth allying with. Adventurers, of course, get around that by killing people and taking their stuff/excavating old dungeons.Err... lets open the DMG to page 137. 100,00 gp limit for metropolisises. And the Rings cost less than the gp limit. "Anything having a price under that limit is most likely available... While exceptions are certainly possible... these exceptions are temporary; all communits will conform to the norm over time." So under the default assumptions of the game those rings are in fact for sale. Over a hundred rings as a matter of fact.


They will be next for sure if they mess with (now-former) adventurers, and they will know it.Not if the adventure's die. Which theyh probably will soo...


Only in the insane campaign, which no one plays, because there is no reason to play them, as PCs obviously have nothing to do. Then its up for the DM to come up with a reason why the BBEG isn't curbed stomped brutally into the ground. Or just not look too hard. If the BBEG threatens a whole kingdom why doesn't a diety commonly worshipped there just kill the fool? Or have a solar do it? Why does the economy revolve around farming when a single item can produce enough food for all? (Create food trap.) Or the DM can just make the BBEG not threaten whole kingdoms. "Yeah killing a dragon cause it ate a thorp? We really don't feel like blowing a huge number of rings of three wishes on that. We use those for actual kingdom sized threats." My explanation would be "Commune/divination/contact other plane says we're fine. I'm sure someone will get rid of it." if the PC's ever look to close.

If you don't like those: Generic artifact or don't have one BBEG, so killing one person won't change things. Or say the BBEG got turned into a lich/ghost/death-resistant creature with the help of a diety. All of those make the wish to a sphere rather useless.



Because this wish sends the efreet himself into a sphere of annihilation, as soon as he does something rash or foolish, thus threatening himself.I wasn't clear. The Efreet will use contact outer plane to find the names of people who will kill him if he doesn't kill them first, with say a time limit of 100 years. (Otherwise he will never finish and he probably likes his mind, it can be repeated every so often.) Multiple casting for each one so he doesn't get a wrong answer. Then he procedes to wish them to their dooms, via transport travellers of course. He will also probably have agreements to get himself restored to life with other Efreets as a back up.

Kemper Boyd
2009-07-09, 10:31 AM
There's a quite easy solution for dealing with PC power levels in regard to the rest of the world, namely no high-level adventuring. And that is why I refuse to run any 3.5 D&D without the E6 rules.

Coidzor
2009-07-09, 10:38 AM
Only in the insane campaign, which no one plays, because there is no reason to play them, as PCs obviously have nothing to do.

I dunno. I think it could be interesting to be in a world where the PCs have to compete with NPC adventuring bands for contracts. At least at low-to-mid. At high levels they'd be around but, well, the multiverse is a big place once planar travel is accessible/foisted upon erstwhlie adventurers who manage to survive and make the best of it.

FatR
2009-07-09, 01:16 PM
Err... yeah wish (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/Wish.htm) does allow you to kill people you don't like.
No, it doesn't. Unless backed by pure GM fiat.


Err... lets open the DMG to page 137. 100,00 gp limit for metropolisises. And the Rings cost less than the gp limit. "Anything having a price under that limit is most likely available... While exceptions are certainly possible... these exceptions are temporary; all communits will conform to the norm over time." So under the default assumptions of the game those rings are in fact for sale. Over a hundred rings as a matter of fact.
Under "default assumptions of the game" you can win DnD before level 5 by starting one of several infinite power loops. So, discussing them is obviously meaningless.


Then its up for the DM to come up with a reason why the BBEG isn't curbed stomped brutally into the ground. Or just not look too hard.
So, DM should pull out of his as$ reasond for BBEG survival, but not for PCs survival. What kind of screwed-up logic is this?


If the BBEG threatens a whole kingdom why doesn't a diety commonly worshipped there just kill the fool? Or have a solar do it? Why does the economy revolve around farming when a single item can produce enough food for all? (Create food trap.) Or the DM can just make the BBEG not threaten whole kingdoms.
So... BBEG is a mere EG, and PCs are unimportant nobodies? Yeah, that's really freaking thematic. And fun. But at least your position is now clear.


If you don't like those: Generic artifact or don't have one BBEG, so killing one person won't change things. Or say the BBEG got turned into a lich/ghost/death-resistant creature with the help of a diety. All of those make the wish to a sphere rather useless.
Learn how Sphere of Annihilation works before bringing up bull$hit tactics.


I wasn't clear. The Efreet will use contact outer plane to find the names of people who will kill him if he doesn't kill them first, with say a time limit of 100 years.
First, it is doubtful whether Contact Other Plance even works like that. (All questions are answered with “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “never,” “irrelevant,” or some other one-word answer.) Even if name passes for "one-word answer", this provides the Efreet absolutely nothing, unless PCs's have names that are unique in the entire universe.


(Otherwise he will never finish and he probably likes his mind, it can be repeated every so often.) Multiple casting for each one so he doesn't get a wrong answer. Then he procedes to wish them to their dooms, via transport travellers of course.
There is no such spell.

FatR
2009-07-09, 01:17 PM
There's a quite easy solution for dealing with PC power levels in regard to the rest of the world, namely no high-level adventuring. And that is why I refuse to run any 3.5 D&D without the E6 rules.
Or playing a system like Warhammer Fantasy where PCs aren't supposed to double their power every 3-6 sessions.

FatR
2009-07-09, 01:27 PM
I dunno. I think it could be interesting to be in a world where the PCs have to compete with NPC adventuring bands for contracts. At least at low-to-mid. At high levels they'd be around but, well, the multiverse is a big place once planar travel is accessible/foisted upon erstwhlie adventurers who manage to survive and make the best of it.
If this kind of setup is presented explicitly, before the campaign begins, I might be interested in playing this way. But I totally hate, when a setting initially presents itself as a setting of semi-generic heroic fantasy (i.e. the main characters are supposed to be important), then just refuses to give PCs bigger role than that of lowly mercenaries and pawns of uber-NPCs.

Xplo
2009-07-09, 02:03 PM
That's not "plausible consequences". That's punishing PCs for evil behavior, pure and simple.

Bull. If I say "rocks fall, everyone dies", that's punishment. If the gods shoot them with lightning, that's punishment. If a powerful extraplanar being appears out of nowhere to slap them around, that's punishment.

When you rob or murder someone and the local cops investigate, that's plausible consequences. Where it goes from there is up to the PCs (and the GM) but the kind of guys who see nothing wrong with robbing people at swordpoint aren't likely to start sparing the lives of anyone who tries to bring them to justice. Escalation is very plausible.


The fact is, every single DnD setting assumes that bad guys kill people for money (or other purposes) every day and get away with this...

How do we know they get away with it? Do you tell your players (with their high-level PCs) about every petty crime and bounty in the area? Or do you just assume that, y'know, people are taking care of it, and if it was really important to the PCs, then you'd tell them?

For that matter, if murder were really as common as you imply, why isn't everyone dead by now?


my current 3.5 party consists of pretty nice guys, but their recent exploits made rather obvious, that they are more competent that the entire standing army of the kingdom they live in. They can pretty much take over, if they want - it would require work, of course, but it is doable at their current level. Who's going to tell them to treat shopkeepers nicely?

Doesn't matter how powerful they are; they're still expected to behave. Yeah, I guess if they can successfully intimidate an entire country, and that country has no allies or anything that'll help, they might be able to bully merchants without immediate retribution. Instead, they'll see their reputation suffer.

Knaight
2009-07-09, 02:19 PM
That's not "plausible consequences". That's punishing PCs for evil behavior, pure and simple. The same applies to every single post that suggested burying PCs under swiftly excalating threats. The fact is, every single DnD setting assumes that bad guys kill people for money (or other purposes) every day and get away with this, and authorities often are so incompetent or overwhelmed, that without adventurers' intervention their city/country/world is completely screwed. \

Far from it. Not even every published setting does this, let alone most of the ones people make. Not everybody uses the adventurers being hired by the authorities to fight the bad guys. Sure, they often get involved where the authorities would be at a disadvantage, but they aren't always hugely powerful, let alone comparable to entire armies. And many of the enemies they have might be personal enemies who are targeting them first and foremost. You can have an interesting setting where the authorities are not all incompetent, are not overwhelmed, and the PCs are still involved in things way over their head and high adventure.

I'm not even sure the bit above applies to most settings. I know it doesn't apply to all.

Umael
2009-07-09, 02:40 PM
*points to sig*

The number one thing is that you guys are all there to have fun. Sometimes, threatening a merchant CAN be fun, and actually letting the player get away with it would ruin the fun. I know if I had a horrible day and I was in a bad mood, so my slasher-and-an-attitude dropped a casual "this had better work, or I'm gonna kill you", having the merchant pale and back away a little (or even give me a discount), might put me in a better mood. Even better, the GM could describe how the merchant looks a lot like someone I know in real life who royally annoyed me.

But if you, the GM, aren't having fun, or if one of your players isn't having fun because this person here is bullying innocent (?) merchants, then you need to change gears to something that IS fun.

As a GM, I know that I get annoyed if someone "derails" my game by being goofy and silly when I want a more serious game. But the question is, who compromises and how? Do I make the game goofy and silly? I can, but a bunch of my notes and hard work might get tossed - which can be unfun. Do I force the game to be serious? I might, but will this offend someone(s) enough to go back to making the whole thing unfun. Do we compromise? Possible, but only if both sides are willing to compromise and have fun at the same time.

If you can't run the game because your game notes begin with them entering the Dungeon of Unending Agony and you have nothing prepared for the merchant's crack anti-adventurer SWAT team, then you should (in-game and out-of-game) nudge them the way you want to go and see how they respond. If they insist on going on a powertrip, and have no interest in the adventure you have planned, and don't respect the work you have put into the world you created, then you have a bit higher moral ground when you bring the hammer down on them. I suggest hitting them a few times, and then dangling the carrot-shapped healing potion to lure them out of the town and into your adventure.

Yakk
2009-07-09, 02:40 PM
In 4e, the sale-to-merchants price of magic items is 20% of book price.

And they sell for 10% to 40% over book price.

This doesn't mean that Merchants get to multiply their gold stockpile by 5.5 to 7 every purchase cycle. Guess that that merchant spends his money on?

Security.

Because merchants who don't have security are all dead or bankrupt. It isn't just PCs who steal from merchants -- anyone who has 1000 gp to buy a sword is going to think "how much would it cost just to hire someone to mug that merchant for the 1000 gp sword?" The cost of mugging has to be higher than 1000 gp, or the merchant is out of business (one way or another).

There may be the occasional wandering merchant, but that merchant isn't going to carry magical weapons around with them unless they have insurance against being mugged. That means guards whose value is commensurate with the value of the items being sold. Which are then paid for out of the huge markups (5.5 to 7.0 times) that merchants charge for these expensive items.

Alternatively, a static merchant ends up having a powerful patron (a noble, a wizard's guild, etc). If you don't want the patron to be able to solve problems, make their power geographically limited (the wizard's guild uses an arcane spire to power their works, which limits the range of their heavy duty mojo to a few 100 m or, or a few km from the spire, or the noble has to keep the force at home because rival power centers threaten).

Going even further, a merchant might have home-field advantage. Maybe the house or building the merchant is in is heavily warded and set up for security reasons. Such static wards might be very expensive -- but we are talking about someone who is selling things worth the price of small duchies.

Someone selling a 5000 gp item (and knows what it is worth) will be assuming that their customers will try to steal it from them, or it would have already been stolen from them. Which means ye olde magic shoppe in the village doesn't carry 5000 gp items (and know what they are worth).

Avilan the Grey
2009-07-09, 02:49 PM
Again, we talk about the world where bad guys kill people and get away with it all the time. Also, the essence of your argument is that PCs should be OK if they antagonize baddest, most violent beings in their vicinity on regular basis (that's what adventurers do after all), but would stop being OK if they antagonize much softer targets, such as merchants. And this is obvious bull$hit. Just ban evil parties, if you don't like sociopathic PCs, instead of pulling such stupidity.


Why shouldn't I think so, if I just punked some global threat? If I still shouldn't, how the heck this threat wasn't easily dispatched by All-Powerful Merchants? See, the premise that PCs are at all important and their choices are meaningful (and why play DnD, of all games, if your PC aren't supposed to be?), is utterly incompatible with "can't get away with anything" attitude. If PCs are indeed mighty heroes, they can get away with a lot. Period.
By the way, really powerful people have no freaking reason to run magic marts. Because they have ways to obtain money that do not require parting with their XP. If they sell magic items at all, they do so to supply their allies and followers.

This is how it works in comic books too. Just like the Big Bads never know about eachother (Dr Doom is never concerned when another Big Bad is conquering the world, while IRL the heroes would hardly be needed since all Big Bads would constantly fight eachother for world domination...)
Anyway, as I said this is how it works in D&D, and in Comic Bookverse: Just because nobody except the "elderly wizard" noticed the global threat, does not mean that you can go into the local capital and hit some magic shops.
And personally I find the opposite, that you argue, is stupid. What you are arguing for is a game world that accepts, and actually rewards, Chaotic Stupid players.

Coidzor
2009-07-09, 03:03 PM
This is how it works in comic books too. Just like the Big Bads never know about eachother (Dr Doom is never concerned when another Big Bad is conquering the world, while IRL the heroes would hardly be needed since all Big Bads would constantly fight eachother for world domination...)

I sorta see it as, the big bads know about at least some of their competitors, at least in theory, but usually keep things on the down low until they feel they can take out their rivals as well as the good guys. The goodguys could just step back and let the big bads duke it out for control of the world, but... the fallout from that would be very unpleasant in most cases, potentially rendering the world along the lines of Athas of all places... Or worse, The Dustlands courtesy of SCS.

And well, it's not very good to let evil run amok and kill lots of civvies even if the evils will kill one another until one or none are left, or a ruling council of evil that can cooperate is established...

Lamech
2009-07-09, 03:13 PM
No, it doesn't. Unless backed by pure GM fiat.Why can't I wish someone into a sphere of annilation? Barring that I can still use the far realm. Even if the party wishes them back a round later the person will be dead or insane. (And insanly powerful probably.)



Under "default assumptions of the game" you can win DnD before level 5 by starting one of several infinite power loops. So, discussing them is obviously meaningless. Err... yeah there are infinte power loops, those are generally just baned by DM fiat because they break the game. Those things make the game unplayable, so they need to be tossed. The buying rules don't so I assumed they would be standard.
Look you can't just throw out random rules because they hurt your vision of DnD. You're saying the PC's are free to steal from merchants because of there power; I'm saying that rings of three wishes prevent that. You claim that is a bad rule, and it doesn't matter.



So, DM should pull out of his as$ reasond for BBEG survival, but not for PCs survival. What kind of screwed-up logic is this?Its really suvival bias. Hundereds of would be BBEG and only a handful are ever a threat. Some probably die stuipid deaths when they make a dumb mistake, some never get the ablity to protect themselves to set their plan in motion. The BBEG's have gone through a weeding out process. The PC's on the other hand haven't so need to be put through it. And if we use my reason of "our magic says someone else will kill the BBEG" The PC's die because "Our magic says someone else won't kill the PCs" Both true no back bending required.



So... BBEG is a mere EG, and PCs are unimportant nobodies? Yeah, that's really freaking thematic. And fun. But at least your position is now clear.One of the methods of a game. And in the real world when you go out and save hundereds your regarded as a hero. (Or thousands if you adventure long enough.) Not an unimportant nobody.



Learn how Sphere of Annihilation works before bringing up bull$hit tactics.
From sphere of annilation:

Only the direct intervention of a deity can restore an annihilated character.
Hmm... diety directly intervening? Check: with the "diety makes a death resistant creature trick." In the case of an artifact? Those get to break the rules. Wish fails. One could argue the fates card works. (And divination spells plus shuffling/hapless summons gets you that card. And I forgot an anti-wish tactic. Dragon+awaken spell resistances. If the SR breaks 40 the costs go Big. Fast. Higher than the gp limit.

First, it is doubtful whether Contact Other Plance even works like that. (All questions are answered with “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” “never,” “irrelevant,” or some other one-word answer.) Even if name passes for "one-word answer", this provides the Efreet absolutely nothing, unless PCs's have names that are unique in the entire universe.First name, middle name, last name, name of father, name of mother, race, DoB, just keep adding to you have enough. Not a big deal.



There is no such spell.Right. Transport travellers is a option of wish. Not a spell.