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Bryan1108
2013-06-06, 12:16 PM
So I am story-boarding my new M&M campaign and the first multi-part adventure deals with how superpowers come into the setting.

The three heroes are led by a series of events to where the main villain is working big deal combining incredibly advanced science with a hugely powerful magic ritual. The world is facing a huge global threat that people don't know about yet and it will be here in a month.

I wanted the villain to be believable and three dimensional so rather than being a megalomaniac, the villain actually wants to save the world by going through with this ritual and turning half the people in the world into Kryptonian level superhumans. The problem is that it will kill twenty percent of the people in the world.

In theory, this is too high a price and the heroes disrupt the ritual causing superhumans of various power levels to show up all over the world with a few hundred casualties.

My fear is that the players say something like, "That's horrible but if twenty percent have to die to save everyone then I guess that is what has to happen."

So what do you guys think?

Is twenty percent high enough to horrify the average players into action?

To my mind, saving people shouldn't be a numbers game and that is what I was thinking would separate the heroes from the well intentioned villain but I haven't tested that theory on other people until now.

Morph Bark
2013-06-06, 12:22 PM
It's not so much "if twenty percent have to die to save everyone", but rather "if twenty percent have to die to turn more than half the remaining population into superhumans". If the superhuman thing wasn't involved, then of course they'd go against it, unless there were some special benefit for them. If the heroes are superhumans themselves, they now have the added benefit of gaining more people like them, thus more understanding from other people and understanding of themselves and interaction with their kind. If they aren't superhuman, but could become superhuman due to this process, some of them might want to go along with it, power hungry as they may be.

I mean, real heroes tend to try to save everyone from everything, so both the villain and the other threat causing the villain to do this.

Bryan1108
2013-06-06, 12:28 PM
They're not superhuman yet.

Nobody gets powers until after the ritual. They are pretty good at rping good guys.

The threat is imminent alien invasion that will arrive about a month after the ritual. With the ritual intact, humanity could easily fend off the invasion with nary a casualty. Without it, victory is doubtful and if we do manage to win, it will be at a high cost.

Mewtarthio
2013-06-06, 12:42 PM
Which 20%? If it's possible to tell in advance, you could introduce a sympathetic NPC that's in the 20% (or, better yet, introduce several NPCs, pick the one they like best, then redefine the 20% criteria so that said NPC will end up sacrificed).

Or you could threaten the players directly. Perhaps the ritual will drain the life force from the surrounding area to power itself, potentially killing the PCs along with the BBEG (let it never be said that he makes others sacrifice what he will not).

Or you could make the players hate the BBEG regardless of his motives. Maybe he's extremely callous about the 20% he's sacrificing, or even believes they deserve their fates. Or perhaps he's directly harmed the PCs in his quest, making the final confrontation as much about vengeance as it is about saving the 20%.

The short answer: You have to make it personal. If it comes down to a distant philosophical debate, there's no telling what they'll choose. If the PCs have a personal stake in the affair, though, then suddenly the debate becomes much more real (and, if they do side with the bad guy anyway, the cost is tangible).

Water_Bear
2013-06-06, 12:46 PM
The problem here is that it's a question of a certainty of 20% casualties versus a high risk of 100% casualties. If the odds are more than 4:1 against humanity in the war, the ritual is a smarter option. Not to mention that your more actuarial PCs might notice that said Kryptonian superpowers will "pay off" the loss of life pretty quickly; just providing immunity to infectious diseases and accidents means lowering the death rate by more than 25%.

Of course, this is more of a moral or ethical question than a logical one so you'll have to know how your Players think in terms of right and wrong.

Mando Knight
2013-06-06, 12:46 PM
Vastly decrease the population that directly benefits ("A force of just three thousand supermen can stop the alien invasion!"), and make it clear that the villain gets to choose who dies (probably including anyone he thinks is "evil," such as government officials stuck hemming and hawing instead of dealing with the threat, or those who he thinks are a "burden on society," or possibly even entire countries... the US, Canada, Australia, and the European Union could be wiped off the map and he'd still not have enough) and who becomes superhuman (he has a cult following that believes in his not-the-same-as-yours ideals, waiting to become the saviors of the world).

Anyone with a head for numbers and even a basic grasp of economics would realize that killing 20% of the world population would destroy the economy. He might condemn the world by trying to save it.

Jerthanis
2013-06-06, 12:49 PM
I think that 20% of the population is plenty high, you're talking about a crime greater than two hundred holocausts at that point. If anything, it's TOO high. We might not even be able to grasp the true weight at that point. If you want it horrific, be sure to emphasize that it means, statistically speaking, more than two members of each individual character's family will die in such a way.

But also, 50% of the world becoming Super might be too much as well... with that many superpowered people, you kind of establish supercrime as the new normal. If you have each individual being strong enough to punch the planet apart, and dependant upon other superpowered individuals to stop them from doing so, it seems inevitable that they'd fail eventually...

I'd say a more relatable and still dastardly plan might be to kill 1% of the world population (still about 1.2 holocausts worth of murder, BTW) to make 1 or 2 thousand handpicked people get superpowers. These handpicked people could be picked due to their virtue, humility, and responsibility. In fact, perhaps the last hurdle they face in the selection process could be that they refuse when told how many people would die for their portion of the superpowers. This would interrupt the "What if the Joker got Superman's powers as a result of this" kind of objection. Just spitballing here, sorry.

Bryan1108
2013-06-06, 01:00 PM
Oh geeze. I posted the wrong number anyway. I'm sitting here looking at the number an thinking that it wasn't right so I just double checked my notes.

It was supposed to be twenty percent that was unaffected. Thirty percent is killed or roughly one out of every three or four people in the world.

It is supposed to be a more or less random thing though, assuming that the players know more than three people, it should still be pretty personal.

Ashtagon
2013-06-06, 01:02 PM
Honestly, even without the benefit of creating superheroes, my first question would be about how they would die. If it is simply an end with no personal suffering, I'd be cool with it. The planet is overpopulated, and this is as good a way as any to provide a reprieve, albeit probably temporary.

Mando Knight
2013-06-06, 01:03 PM
Also, make it clear that some of the players' characters are part of those killed and none of them are part of the 50%, as intended by the villain.

In the spirit of OotS #489 (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0489.html), my estimates would put the villain's act at about 340 meganazis (using the total casualties of WWII divided by the membership of the ruling parties of the Axis Powers as a rough guide). The hypothetical offspring of Cruella de Vil and Sauron has nothing on this.

Noedig
2013-06-06, 01:06 PM
I'd like to echo the 'make it personal' statement. Give the PCs a vested interest. Their family, their spouses, their children, etc will probably die. Also, ~1.4 billion people will die. Can the heroes really live with themselves, even the most callous amongst them, if they allow that to come to pass? Maybe have the villain do a test-run, and illustrate that the deaths will not be gentle. The more terrible, agonizing and vicious you can make the results of the ritual, the more likely the PCs will try to stop it.

I'd also like to echo the suggestion of dropping the number of supers created by this event. Perhaps an oddly specific number, like 14,825 supers are created.

Bryan1108
2013-06-06, 01:09 PM
Alright then. I appreciate all of the feedback and I think we're good. The game starts this afternoon so I need to get going on it.

Thank you very much :)

Mark Hall
2013-06-06, 02:32 PM
I would make the function random and, if they decide to allow it, have everyone roll 1d10. A 1 or a 2 and they're part of the "necessary sacrifice." 6-10 and they're now Captain Marvel (SHAZAM!).

The bad guy should also be part of that roll. And anyone important to them.

If Aaron survives, but Betty does not? Betty's husband is probably going to be mad at Aaron. And he's got superpowers.

Water_Bear
2013-06-06, 02:38 PM
Honestly, even without the benefit of creating superheroes, my first question would be about how they would die. If it is simply an end with no personal suffering, I'd be cool with it. The planet is overpopulated, and this is as good a way as any to provide a reprieve, albeit probably temporary.

You should really put sarcasm in blue text so that people don't think you're seriously advocating mass murder.

Ashtagon
2013-06-06, 02:56 PM
You should really put sarcasm in blue text so that people don't think you're seriously advocating mass murder.

I don't use blue text for sarcasm. I use purple text.

Talya
2013-06-06, 03:12 PM
Dude, it depends what they are high on. It'd be a real downer, man, if they were just potheads, but it wouldn't be, like, that hard, yeah? But if they were high on LSD, they're already superpowered, man! Good luck killing them.

Mr Beer
2013-06-06, 05:57 PM
I like the idea but would run it a bit differently.

The heroes are protecting an official government program to create superbeings and spend time and adventures thwarting evil terrorists, traitors, well-meaning journalists and so on.

They gradually discover that:

1. The guy in charge of the program is something of a megalomaniac and tends to avoid oversight like the plague.

2. The people being recruited for the program are in fact psychologically unreliable, to the extent that some are criminally insane. But very loyal to the leader.

3. Leader has bypassed normal procedures after some encouraging experimental results and is going for one single, highly dangerous ritual.

4. Said ritual is going to suck the life out of many millions, maybe even billions of people and insert it into the sociopaths, making them superpowered.

However bad the upcoming invasion is going to be, it's unlikely the players will think this is a good idea.

Barsoom
2013-06-06, 06:18 PM
My fear is that the players say something like, "That's horrible but if twenty percent have to die to save everyone then I guess that is what has to happen."

So what do you guys think?

Is twenty percent high enough to horrify the average players into action?

You of course know your players better, but it's very likely the PCs will adopt a 'pragmatic' stance on this, and let 20% of the population die.

My suggestion: hit them where it hurts. What if their loved ones are in the 20%? Heck, what if they are in the 20%?

Emmerask
2013-06-07, 03:43 AM
The op corrected to 30% ^^

The thing is that the alternative is 90 to 100% casualties due to the invasion
which I presume your players know about? Else stopping the ritual is not much of a question.

So with knowing this invasion will come this is not much of a choice.

The main problem I see is that it wonīt stay at 30%, with only have the population becoming superhuman of the 35% normals a good chunk will die, become slaves etc.

The first years will be absolute chaos, you canīt maintain order when someone can just casually explode a city.
Then of course there will be fights by the governments to stay in control aided by some of the superhumans.
In the end I would guess everything would break down into a ton of smaller states.
The number of deaths will be very much above the initial 30%.

But overall if the alternative is an almost assured extinction of the human race there is not much of a choice I would guess.

How likely is it that we could come to terms with the aliens?

Need_A_Life
2013-06-07, 04:11 AM
20% of the population? :smalleek:
T-that's a lot of people. Depending on which areas are most heavily affected by this thing, it may mean the collapse of the existing infrastructure, which (combined with a lot of new superhumans*) could quickly turn the setting post-apocalyptic.

* Because between selfish people, irresponsible people and those who can't control their powers (at first, anyway), the body count will rise.

Friv
2013-06-07, 10:49 AM
Oh geeze. I posted the wrong number anyway. I'm sitting here looking at the number an thinking that it wasn't right so I just double checked my notes.

It was supposed to be twenty percent that was unaffected. Thirty percent is killed or roughly one out of every three or four people in the world.

It is supposed to be a more or less random thing though, assuming that the players know more than three people, it should still be pretty personal.

So... his plan is to wipe out almost a third of the world, resulting in a society where literally every person ever has lost at least one family member and probably several, and where every organization, safety system, legal structure and industry in our societal chain has been gutted...

Give billions of grieving, terrified people incredible super-powers...

And hope that everyone gets organized in under a month to fend off an alien invasion?



This has to be the most optimistic mass-murder plan I've ever heard.


To clarify, I think that this is good! This plan is utterly insane, but it's the sort of utterly insane that a crazy person with no good ideas might try to put into effect.

My suggestion is, make it clear that the guy putting this plan together is wildly unstable, and while his science is good his sociology is terrible. Have him brush aside any concerns about organizing or directing this resultant superhuman apocalypse with the breezy assurance that once people are "upgraded", they will recognize what needs to be done.

SowZ
2013-06-07, 11:02 AM
I don't think you're coming at this from the right angle. If the players decide to go along with the villain, change the direction of the campaign. Now the BBEG boss is a group of heroes trying to stop them. Make it just as winnable as it was before, but the PCs should be primary agents of choice. If they want to help enact this plan, so what?

Andrewmoreton
2013-06-07, 11:47 AM
Anybody willing to kill 1.4 billion people is EVIL. Any superhero should stop them. If any PC chooses not to he is a bad guy. I would have no problem with that in a plot but would point out to the player his character is now worse than Hitler, Stalin and Mao combined by several orders of magnitude, and the devil has a job offer for him. I would also expect most of the superhero team to turn on him.
Also if they go along make sure at least some of their friends, relatives ,children etc die. So their characters know the price, I would have each player roll a dice for each significant npc (and probably their own character) to see if they were one of the 'necessary' sacrifices


Superhero's should expect they can come up with a better plan, unless it is a fairly dark superhero game.

GolemsVoice
2013-06-07, 11:54 AM
Have them discover it only at the end. Maybe before theyknow nothing, just that the villain has a terrible plan, or they might know the ritual, but might think it will leave ONLY the superpowered individuals alive.

Then, at the end, when they discover the true plan, they can still shout their heroic "This is monstrous!" and try to defeat him, or, yes, they can agree and join him.

Emmerask
2013-06-07, 11:55 AM
The thing is that the heroes have to choose between two scenarios:

1)allow the ritual and lose 30% of the population initially + maybe another 30% in the aftermath?

2)stop the ritual and lose 80 to 100% of the population due to the aliens invading 1 month later.

Granted they should explore if there is anything that can be done against the aliens without the ritual and if there is even a slim hope against them they should take that...however i they donīt find any possibility then scenario 1 is the preferable solution as bad as it is.

This of course is only valid if they know about the invasion from a really reliable source and that the power of said aliens is also perfectly known (ie that earth military has zero chance).



Give billions of grieving, terrified people incredible super-powers...

And hope that everyone gets organized in under a month to fend off an alien invasion?



This has to be the most optimistic mass-murder plan I've ever heard.


Actually tragedy in general makes people work together far more then anything else at least for a short period of time (ie a few months) especially if you add in a threat for all humanity...

So from that perspective that isnīt that bad of an evil super-villain plan to safe the world... after this brief unity time though chaos will reign ^^

Ashtagon
2013-06-07, 12:55 PM
Anybody willing to kill 1.4 billion people is EVIL. Any superhero should stop them. If any PC chooses not to he is a bad guy. I would have no problem with that in a plot but would point out to the player his character is now worse than Hitler, Stalin and Mao combined by several orders of magnitude, and the devil has a job offer for him. I would also expect most of the superhero team to turn on him.
Also if they go along make sure at least some of their friends, relatives ,children etc die. So their characters know the price, I would have each player roll a dice for each significant npc (and probably their own character) to see if they were one of the 'necessary' sacrifices


Superhero's should expect they can come up with a better plan, unless it is a fairly dark superhero game.

I guess I'm evil then.

Explaining the detailed reasons for why I sincerely believe it could be considered a good act is straying deep into politics though, so I'll refrain.

Friv
2013-06-07, 01:21 PM
Two quick points!


The thing is that the heroes have to choose between two scenarios:

1)allow the ritual and lose 30% of the population initially + maybe another 30% in the aftermath?

2)stop the ritual and lose 80 to 100% of the population due to the aliens invading 1 month later.

Even if the alien invasion is certain, why would it result in total human annihilation? Presumably the aliens aren't invading for the purpose of genocide, or they'd just rain meteors on the planet and call it a day. What if the aliens will kill only 5% of the population, but conquer the other 95%? How evil are the aliens? How cruel is their rule going to be? Will an uprising eventually be possible?



Actually tragedy in general makes people work together far more then anything else at least for a short period of time (ie a few months) especially if you add in a threat for all humanity...

So from that perspective that isnīt that bad of an evil super-villain plan to safe the world... after this brief unity time though chaos will reign ^^

That... reaaally depends.

As a baseline, external tragedies bring people together, because they provide something to join together for. However, they often do so in the sense of less-suffering people pulling together to help more-suffering people. Tragedies also lead to lynch mobs, riots, and people pulling together against things that are not responsible for their suffering.

What I meant, more directly, is that people who are suffering from extreme grief and fear are prone to uncertain reactions, because they are generally going to behave less rationally. In this situation, that is actually every person, and most of them are going to be simultaneously struggling with
a) The end of civilization as they knew it
b) The deaths of roughly a third of their loved ones, and
c) Incredible new abilities

And those incredible new abilities? Not concentrated in the hands of good people. Half the people in prison get them. Half of the world's gangs get them. Half of the people engaged in intractable racial or cultural wars get them.

These people are going to be looking for someone to blame for the loss of loved ones. They're going to be looking for a way to survive, or get ahead. The people who didn't get powers are going to be freaking out over the people who did, creating prejudice and hatred. You are going to have a period of anarchy that makes anything that has come before look like a freaking tea party.

Frozen_Feet
2013-06-07, 01:38 PM
Well, the most important thing to remember (that you might have already gathered from reading this thread) is that either way, civilization as we know it will end.

20% of the population dying will reduce a lot of existing infrastructure into non-funtionality. Within a generation, this will cause massive sociopolitical upheaval. It's really a singularity sort of scenario. There's no telling what, exactly will happen, but a lot of it won't be good.

And that's without accounting for all the super-criminals that will be around.

Meanwhile, just first contact with aliens is a singularity scenario. Hostile first contact even more so. You know what they say about plans and enemies? Whatever the aliens are thinking of doing, it's almost guaranteed things will not pan out just like they thought. Whatever you think humans are going to be doing... yeah.

Both are such major turning points in human history that all decisions will necessarily be based on faith, and faith alone. There are near-zero useful predictions a bunch of ordinary joes could make.

Drive this point home to your players. This is not a win-win scenario. It's not a lose-lose scenario. It's a ??????? scenario. There's absolutely nothing to turn to expect their personal beliefs.

Emmerask
2013-06-07, 01:39 PM
Two quick points!
Even if the alien invasion is certain, why would it result in total human annihilation? Presumably the aliens aren't invading for the purpose of genocide, or they'd just rain meteors on the planet and call it a day. What if the aliens will kill only 5% of the population, but conquer the other 95%? How evil are the aliens? How cruel is their rule going to be? Will an uprising eventually be possible?


Well mainly because this was kind of the main point by the op I think, these aliens canīt be reasoned with and will (try) to destroy humanity, with an extremely great chance of success.

Without this assumption there really is no moral conundrum that is worth discussing I think and there is little question that the heroes will stop the ritual :smallwink:

At least all my points where under this assumption, if there is a sliver of hope that will not cost ~90%+++ of the population then of course stopping the ritual would be the option to take ^^



These people are going to be looking for someone to blame for the loss of loved ones. They're going to be looking for a way to survive, or get ahead. The people who didn't get powers are going to be freaking out over the people who did, creating prejudice and hatred. You are going to have a period of anarchy that makes anything that has come before look like a freaking tea party.

I completely agree with this, though I think this would happen after the invasion was stopped :smallsmile:

Mando Knight
2013-06-07, 02:48 PM
I completely agree with this, though I think this would happen after the invasion was stopped :smallsmile:
Only if the invasion began within a few days after the catastrophe.

No matter which 30% you kill (by the way, that 30% is basically an order of magnitude greater than all the deaths caused by every war, ever), civilization as it now is will rapidly collapse, even without the ensuing superpower surge. You can hardly bury that many dead respectably, and normal tragedy response strategies assume that there are people unaffected by the tragedy.

Also, it brings up uncomfortable questions about ethnic superiority (except this time, it's super powers, not skin color, that's the deciding factor).

If the strategy succeeds, human civilization would be lost anyway. A new superhuman civilization may arise from the ashes, but would that really be any different from letting the alien civilization itself take hold?

Coidzor
2013-06-07, 02:50 PM
Anyone with a head for numbers and even a basic grasp of economics would realize that killing 20% of the world population would destroy the economy. He might condemn the world by trying to save it.

Society is destroyed.


But also, 50% of the world becoming Super might be too much as well... with that many superpowered people, you kind of establish supercrime as the new normal. If you have each individual being strong enough to punch the planet apart, and dependant upon other superpowered individuals to stop them from doing so, it seems inevitable that they'd fail eventually...

And can never be brought back.

Blightedmarsh
2013-06-07, 03:45 PM
To preserve societies infrastructure it may be best to concentrate as much of the damage as possible into as small of an area as possible. 1/3rd of the world annihilated is better than the whole world decimated by 1/3rd. Then blame the aliens and say it was a first strike against the earth and the "great uplifting" was the only way to prevent a second. Now that their attempts at orbital genocide has failed humanity must pull together to prevent their inevitable ground invasion from finishing the job.

JusticeZero
2013-06-07, 04:02 PM
..blame the aliens...
How very Machiavellian, professor Doom.
Clever, effective, and anyone who agrees with it is a grade A global supervillain.

Blightedmarsh
2013-06-07, 04:22 PM
How very Machiavellian, professor Doom.
Clever, effective, and anyone who agrees with it is a grade A global supervillain.

Which would be about 1/2 the worlds population at this point so you are in good company.

And that is so getting sigged if thats OK.

JusticeZero
2013-06-07, 04:26 PM
Go for it. And the beneficiaries would only be grade B at best, if they didn't make the decision.

Blightedmarsh
2013-06-07, 04:38 PM
Given that their is a war on they are going to have to take a level or three in bad ass if they expect to survive. In about three to six months there are going to be an awful lot of grad A material super villains running around. Hopefully you can pack them into captured alien battlecruses and send them out to conquer the galaxy in the name of glory, conquest, vengeance, fluffiness, the children, bunnies and all that other stuff. If not you may have a bigger problem on your hands than alien gribblies from beyond the stars.

Haven
2013-06-07, 04:56 PM
In theory, this is too high a price and the heroes disrupt the ritual causing superhumans of various power levels to show up all over the world with a few hundred casualties.

My fear is that the players say something like, "That's horrible but if twenty percent have to die to save everyone then I guess that is what has to happen."

So what do you guys think?

Is twenty percent high enough to horrify the average players into action?
.

This scenario works as long as you don't phrase it as "20% of the population". People aren't good with percentages and statistics, and as this thread shows, 20% is easy to trivialize or dismiss. Say "a billion", or maybe even "hundreds of millions of people will die". That gives it an appropriate weight.

JusticeZero
2013-06-07, 05:24 PM
Right. At the moment, the way to describe it is, as I recall, "A number similar to the entire population of the United States, three times over, plus change, will die. On average, every single person will lose two hundred friends or family." If they still want to then fine, just as long as they recognize that they will make Stalin look like a hippie. Every superhero and every nation on earth will be out for their heads on a pike. They will be fighting every military force in existance, and they will be making substantial strides toward world peace simply by the fact that everyone in the world will be unified together trying to kill them.

Rainbownaga
2013-06-08, 03:38 AM
30% death rates is comparable to the black plague in Europe. It's worth noting that although it led to years of social upheaval and ecconomic colapse, it also built the foundations of the renaissance. I can see the 'villain' using this as part of his justification. It would probably lead to the betterment of mankind in the long term, but in the short term it would be chaos.

Xuc Xac
2013-06-08, 04:07 AM
I can see the 'villain' using this as part of his justification.

I don't see how the "villain" needs any justification beyond "30% dead is better than 90-100% dead". I don't see how this is even any kind of moral dilemma. The choice is between doing the ritual and killing a lot of people or not doing the ritual and letting everybody die. It's damned if you do, super-ultra-damned if you don't.

"Would you rather kill 2 billion people or 7 billion?"
"I guess it's better to kill 2 billion and let the other 5 billion live."
"You monster! How can you kill 2 billion people?"
"Because... I don't want to kill 7 billion, which was the other option?"

Belril Duskwalk
2013-06-08, 05:51 AM
Just to put numbers in perspective here:
50% of the population would be equivalent to the combined populations of China, India, the USA, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan (the 6 most populous countries on Earth). That's who gets superpowers.
30% is a little less than the combined populations of China and India. That's how many people die.
20% is a little more than the entire population of China. That's people alive, but without Superpowers after the ritual.

In the immediate aftermath, there is a likelihood of a huge number of car crashes and other accidents (we just killed 30% of the world's population. I guarantee some of them were operating vehicles or in some other way were holding the lives of other people in their hands.) For everyone who didn't get Invincibility or Nigh Invincibility as a power, that's going to be a large number of additional casualties.

Seeing as we can't target who is getting powers and who is dying we've also created a massive number of super-villains, because we did just give superpowers to who knows how many murders, muggers etc. Not even counting people who previously obeyed the law out of fear of consequences which are no longer a concern with the right power pack. And as others have noted, if we kill 30% of the world, we turn the remaining 70% into mourners, most of whom now have an undefined (and possibly uncontrolled) assortment of superpowers. Unless the ritual was nice enough to vaporize the bodies, we now literally have more dead bodies than we know what to do with. Societal upheaval is not only possible, but extremely likely, even without the aliens showing up in a month to try and kill everyone. Casualties won't stop at 30%, they will start at 30% and rise rapidly until (if?) society finds a new balance point. We could potentially be talking about killing half the world to save the other half.

This is quite possibly the craziest of crazy last ditch plans I have ever read. The only way I could get behind it is:
A) if there is literally no other chance to win
AND
B) if we are actually guaranteed a win WITH this plan.

If I were a player in such a game, I think I would spend my time trying to stop the villain while also looking for any plan that is less crazy than his plan.

Blightedmarsh
2013-06-08, 06:06 AM
Which is why I say limit the area of effect. If you kill 99% of the population of Europe then you limit the amour of collateral damage that the device inflicts.

Belril Duskwalk
2013-06-08, 06:25 AM
Which is why I say limit the area of effect. If you kill 99% of the population of Europe then you limit the amour of collateral damage that the device inflicts.

Undoubtedly it would. Less mourners because we've increased the probability that everyone who knows someone that died is also dead. Less collateral damage, because everyone in the car you're driving when you died is dead, as are all the people in the car you're about to crash into. The dead body problem is semi-solved because now you can just declare whatever area got wiped out a Wasteland and wait a few years for nature to take care of what is left.

However, on re-reading the original post, I note that Bryan's concern was that the players would find the cost acceptable and allow the Anti-villain (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AntiVillain) to carry out his plan. For the purpose it fills as a motivating event, it is actually better to leave the destruction unfocused so as to spur the players to action.

rafaruggi
2013-06-08, 01:35 PM
I won't go into the philosophical debate here because it's already bad as it is. People advocating mass murder and all that.

Anyway, thinking RPG and plot-wise, I don't think any super-hero would allow that. They have a month until the invasion. If they allow the ritual, they'll never know if they would have come up with something. As long as there is time, there is hope. And there's also another question: the world post-ritual, is that a world worth saving? Or should we try to defend against the invasion, even at a high cost, and preserve our humanity?

Blightedmarsh
2013-06-08, 03:48 PM
I won't go into the philosophical debate here because it's already bad as it is. People advocating mass murder and all that.


I am not saying that they should do it.
What I am saying that if they are going to do it that they should do it well.
The ends may justify the means but they do not justify incompetence.

Coidzor
2013-06-08, 08:53 PM
I am not saying that they should do it.
What I am saying that if they are going to do it that they should do it well.
The ends may justify the means but they do not justify incompetence.

Don't kill randomly in the population, blow up New York City (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDDHHrt6l4w) or London or Paris or Moscow or Mumbai or Bejing, or hell, even Buenos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faFuaYA-daw) Aires (http://youtu.be/0IMewiGeijw?t=32m42s).

Though, as said, talking in percentages and random, faceless statistics... not effective pathos.

JusticeZero
2013-06-09, 11:24 AM
Yeah, but to get that result, you're talking about something closer to the entire north American continent, maybe more.

Coidzor
2013-06-09, 11:34 AM
Yeah, but to get that result, you're talking about something closer to the entire north American continent, maybe more.

Yeah, the scale really just needs to be adjusted, as it's not effective pathos for the PCs... and also, since the continent of Africa as a whole, India, or China are the only discrete areas I've found.

Estimates I've seen is that ALL of North America gets us only half of that, so you'd have to combine all of the Americas and throw in the Caribbean to cover any loose change.

SethoMarkus
2013-06-10, 01:37 PM
In my opinion, the best way to get the Heroes to try to stop the Villain is by giving them hope. Even if it is just the faintest glimmer, hint to the players that there is another way to defeat the aliens. If you leave it up as a single axis moral dilemma you will have PCs opposing each other just like in this thread; some may think 20% too high of a cost, others may think that 20% is better than losing 100%.

If you imply that there is no choice, that either 20% is guaranteed dead by the heroes' inaction, or 90% is guaranteed dead by the alien invasion, your players will have a tough choice. If you imply that there is a possible 3rd choice, even just slightly, the heroes should jump on that chance, on that hope, and feel heroic for doing so. Yes, they are gambling the lives of nearly everyone on the planet, but it's better than having the blood of 20% of the population on their hands.

Blightedmarsh
2013-06-10, 01:40 PM
...giving them hope..

BINGO. There is your answer. With bells on top.

Omegonthesane
2013-06-10, 03:49 PM
Not much to add really - the game will still be runnable if the party decide to go along with the ritual, and the best way to make an actually heroic party defy the anti-villain is to provide hope of a "save everybody" option.

Also, having the villain be unreasonable about it could help - if he's meant to remain sympathetic throughout, then absent other factors he might agree to postpone the ritual for as long as possible so that a less terrifying solution can be found.

Of course, don't then force their hand if a number of the party decide that actually, a glimmer of hope isn't enough, and a #NAME!% chance of saving 99% is not worth taking when you have a ~90% chance of saving 70%.

Ceiling_Squid
2013-06-10, 04:10 PM
There are bigger concerns they should be aware of, beyond the actual ethics of this plan. It's not about surviving the war, that's just one part of it. There's much more that needs to be accounted for.

Consider this - those superpowered humans? They aren't going to go away after the invasion. Society as we know it is likely going to collapse the moment the aliens are defeated, if not before that point.

Can the average person be trusted with superpowers? Do the heroes even fully trust themselves with the responsibility? Will society break apart and fall into infighting? We're going to see legions of minor superheroes, but also legions of villians. Does the ritual even discriminate? How catastrophic will the collateral damage be? How many people are going to die in the aftermath? Can a society with so many supers actually exist? And if so, is humanity actually mature enough to make it work? How will the new supers treat the people who don't get powers?

These are the kind of questions they should be asking themselves. Not the here and now, but what happens after the war. Hopefully at least one of your heroes sees that. That is a point that they'll need to take into account, rather than ignore. THAT is a strong element of WHY they shouldn't go ahead with it.

I envision a rather bloody, apocalyptic scenario that occurs the moment the immediate alien threat is dealt with.

Tengu_temp
2013-06-10, 05:02 PM
It's a superhero game. A month is enough to come up with a defense plan that won't kill 30% of all population. Anyone who agrees to the ritual should have their good guy card taken away from them.


The planet is overpopulated, and this is as good a way as any to provide a reprieve, albeit probably temporary.

Actually, that's untrue. We could fit all of humanity on an island the size of Japan, for example - the population density would be high, but we'd be able to live there more or less comfortably. The problem is not overpopulation, it's uneven distribution.


I guess I'm evil then.

If you are, then it's nothing to be proud of. Evil in real life is not glamorous or cool.

Alejandro
2013-06-10, 05:22 PM
How exactly do all these people die? If there's bodies, you could very well face a huge disease pandemic in several parts of the world (at least) that might start killing a lot, lot more people. Especially if the infrastructure to respond is now missing important parts.

Emmerask
2013-06-10, 06:43 PM
It's a superhero game. A month is enough to come up with a defense plan that won't kill 30% of all population. Anyone who agrees to the ritual should have their good guy card taken away from them.


Actually from the ops initial post + clarifications the only thing that can be done is prevent total obliteration of the human race at the cost of the majority (ie 90%+ I would assume).

So you have two choices and only two
1) will you stop the ritual and fight with a 90 to 100% casualty rate
2) donīt stop the ritual with a 30% initial plus 30%? subsequent deaths ie 60%+?

Saying something else can surely be done is sidestepping the issue. :smalltongue:


As for the overpopulation part, the thing to consider is that we can only sustain the current population is because we use up energy stored for millions of year (oil coal etc) for fertilizers (energy use + transportation) , transportation, mass production of food etc. Without this source Europe for example could not sustain the number of people currently living here.
I think I read a study somewhere that it would be closer to 20% of the current population... though my memory could be wrong there.

Coidzor
2013-06-10, 07:26 PM
Actually from the ops initial post + clarifications the only thing that can be done is prevent total obliteration of the human race at the cost of the majority (ie 90%+ I would assume).

So you have two choices and only two
1) will you stop the ritual and fight with a 90 to 100% casualty rate
2) donīt stop the ritual with a 30% initial plus 30%? subsequent deaths ie 60%+?

Saying something else can surely be done is sidestepping the issue. :smalltongue:

Well, yes, that's what heroes are supposed to do. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TakeAThirdOption)(TVTROPES) :smallwink:

Scow2
2013-06-10, 11:08 PM
Actually from the ops initial post + clarifications the only thing that can be done is prevent total obliteration of the human race at the cost of the majority (ie 90%+ I would assume).

So you have two choices and only two
1) will you stop the ritual and fight with a 90 to 100% casualty rate
2) donīt stop the ritual with a 30% initial plus 30%? subsequent deaths ie 60%+?

Saying something else can surely be done is sidestepping the issue. :smalltongue: I've been ninja'd, but it needs to be repeated: If you cannot find a way to save almost everyone (Except maybe a best friend, poor grandmother, orphan, or lost kitten to give you angst about not saving everyone) from even the most contrived and seemingly unstoppable doom, you aren't even qualified to be a Normal Hero - and you're supposed to be a SUPERhero. The world is always doomed. People insist that if they don't do something drastic, something bad will happen and doom the world. Those people do not believe in true Superheroes.



As for the overpopulation part, the thing to consider is that we can only sustain the current population is because we use up energy stored for millions of year (oil coal etc) for fertilizers (energy use + transportation) , transportation, mass production of food etc. Without this source Europe for example could not sustain the number of people currently living here.
I think I read a study somewhere that it would be closer to 20% of the current population... though my memory could be wrong there.A study that is probably agenda-driven.

Ashtagon
2013-06-10, 11:48 PM
It's a superhero game. A month is enough to come up with a defense plan that won't kill 30% of all population. Anyone who agrees to the ritual should have their good guy card taken away from them.



Actually, that's untrue. We could fit all of humanity on an island the size of Japan, for example - the population density would be high, but we'd be able to live there more or less comfortably. The problem is not overpopulation, it's uneven distribution.

I'm not very good at explaining things clearly. Let me instead point you to an essay by Asimov.

https://www.triumf.info/wiki/pwalden/images/1/18/Asimov_power_of_progression.pdf
https://www.triumf.info/wiki/pwalden/index.php/Isaac_Asimov_predicts_Global_Warming_findings_in_1 971

Yes, we can crowd the entire world's population today on an Island the size of Manhattan. And then what? You think the population won't grow any further?

He wrote another article for Penthouse (yes, that one), in which he predicted the final oil crisis (as in, none left, even at uneconomical prices) at around 2070, curiously similar to current thinking on the subject; not too surprising considering his major was chemistry. He made some dumb statements about nuclear power at the time too. This isn't too surprising either, considering nuclear power in the USA was 14 years old at the time, and still heavily shrouded in secrecy.


If you are, then it's nothing to be proud of. Evil in real life is not glamorous or cool.

Like it or not, human population, whether in raw numbers of people or in terms of consumption of energy and non-renewable materials, is already past carrying capacity.

I'm not proud of the realisation so much as resigned to it. I don't agree with the "evil" label though.

Omegonthesane
2013-06-11, 01:48 AM
I've been ninja'd, but it needs to be repeated: If you cannot find a way to save almost everyone (Except maybe a best friend, poor grandmother, orphan, or lost kitten to give you angst about not saving everyone) from even the most contrived and seemingly unstoppable doom, you aren't even qualified to be a Normal Hero
Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen would each like a word.


- and you're supposed to be a SUPERhero. The world is always doomed. People insist that if they don't do something drastic, something bad will happen and doom the world. Those people do not believe in true Superheroes.
The Authority do, and are, and would not hesitate to perform the ritual if all other options are exhausted.

SethoMarkus
2013-06-11, 07:56 AM
The OP isn't asking us what the better option is, rather if the "cost" is high enough to deter the heroes from going along with the ritual. The point is to get the heroes to NOT opt for the easy way (however damaging or beneficial it may be in the long run), but to either face the aliens with Plan B or resign themselves to annihilation, saying "well, it was a good run."

If it is true, however, that the situation is indeed as Emmerask says, then some changes need to be made.


Actually from the ops initial post + clarifications the only thing that can be done is prevent total obliteration of the human race at the cost of the majority (ie 90%+ I would assume).

So you have two choices and only two
1) will you stop the ritual and fight with a 90 to 100% casualty rate
2) donīt stop the ritual with a 30% initial plus 30%? subsequent deaths ie 60%+?

What this thread has shown is that people believe stopping the ritual results in 90-100% casualty rate, while not stopping the ritual results in 30% casualty rate immediately, then another 30-50% casualty rate in the ensuing chaos, then x% of casualties in the invasion, then a final x% of casualties in the resulting anarchy of a post-invasion world. So, everyone dies no matter which option is chosen?


Saying something else can surely be done is sidestepping the issue. :smalltongue:

This is precisely what needs to happen, though. Or rather, the OP/GM needs to be open to the possibility of the heroes coming up with a third choice. Otherwise, why even play? In a (super)hero campaign, I certainly would not want to face a "everyone dies or you hand in your hero card" scenario.

Emmerask
2013-06-11, 08:23 AM
This is precisely what needs to happen, though. Or rather, the OP/GM needs to be open to the possibility of the heroes coming up with a third choice. Otherwise, why even play? In a (super)hero campaign, I certainly would not want to face a "everyone dies or you hand in your hero card" scenario.

Well not everyone dies as you said, the ones left MAY die but that is not a sure thing.

So with the two choice option, the players actually choose the campaign they face afterwards, both are not happy scenarios but both will have unique challenges.

One will have alien invaders overtaken the world with the remaining humans trying to band together and ultimately will try to overthrow the aliens maybe?
I would imagine the world to look somewhat similar to defiance (tv show) minus the aliens in the city^^

The other would be a world nearly empty of humans with supervillains threatening the few remaining population centers that banded together after the catastrophe.

In both campaigns the players will (most likely) have a high interest in, because it was their decision that shaped this new campaign.
It shows them that their decision matters and have consequences... I would love to take part in such a campaign as a player, so I donīt see it as an end but a beginning :smallwink:

SethoMarkus
2013-06-11, 09:40 AM
Nothing is saying that the players won't choose one of those two options, and I agree with you that the players should face the consequences their actions have on the world. It is important to show that the players have agency. However, that is the exact reason I think a third option should be allowed. Note, I don't think the GM should come right out and say "hey, guys, there's also Option C, where everyone is happy and you have ice cream."

It may just be me, but I feel that forcing a decision based on only the 2 options, and disallowing any other solution, is a bit railroady. It takes away the agency that you want to create.

The most important thing, I guess, would be communication. If that's the style campaign the players want to be in, great. If the players want more open-ended solutions, that's great also. As long as the players are having fun, there's no right or wrong way. I might be guilty of forgetting that as well, in my previous posts.

Mewtarthio
2013-06-11, 12:56 PM
It's probably worth mentioning that the OP had the session five days ago.

You still there, OP? How did it go?