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JNAProductions
2015-10-23, 01:53 PM
Well, deceived them, at least, but it's basically equitable.

It's a High School (College) Harem Comedy game, one where I disallowed supernatural archetypes, but I made the Protaganist supernatural herself.

At least one of the players was pretty upset about the switcharoo, and I very nearly lost players over it.

Before you ask, I have been talking to the players about it, and I have apologized several times.

Does anyone have any advice they'd like to share?

Airk
2015-10-23, 02:09 PM
Did you DISALLOW supernatural types, or did you say "They are no supernatural types"?

Because the former is not lying, and perfectly allowable GM behavior, and the second IS lying and kindof being a jerk when you could have done the former, and your players are right to be annoyed.

Or, to put it another way, it's basically NEVER a good idea to change the premise of a game after you pitch it. Don't tell them "We're playing a game about space exploration" and then having them crashland on a primitive planet in the first session and be stuck there because they can't repair their ship.

Or, to put it yet another way: Why would you NOT have told them that "protagonist" was going to be supernatural?

JNAProductions
2015-10-23, 02:11 PM
Did you DISALLOW supernatural types, or did you say "They are no supernatural types"?

Because the former is not lying, and perfectly allowable GM behavior, and the second IS lying and kindof being a jerk when you could have done the former, and your players are right to be annoyed.

Or, to put it another way, it's basically NEVER a good idea to change the premise of a game after you pitch it. Don't tell them "We're playing a game about space exploration" and then having them crashland on a primitive planet in the first session and be stuck there because they can't repair their ship.

Or, to put it yet another way: Why would you NOT have told them that "protagonist" was going to be supernatural?

They were disallowed. I never said they didn't exist.

As for the bolded portion... I wanted it to be a surprise. Which feels like a real bad idea in retrospect.

Airk
2015-10-23, 02:13 PM
Hmm. Grey area then. If they ASSUMED that there were no supernatural types because they weren't allowed to make them, that's kinda on them.

As a rule though, pulling the switcheroo isn't "clever" or fun, it's basically just telling people "Get excited about X" and then expecting them to be excited when you reveal it's actually Y.

Edit: Anyway, it sounds like you've learned a valuable lesson here, which is all to the good. :) Allow me to endorse your feelings - it probably WASN'T a good idea for it to be a surprise. ;) Because, really, what would have been different other than that moment of "WTF?!"

DireSickFish
2015-10-23, 02:21 PM
There is a very weird dichotomy about wanting to hide things from a narrative perspective to enhance the story while needing to disclose what is going to happen and be likely in the game so the players can play accordingly. It takes a lot of trust for players to go along with a switcharoo like that. That kind of trust is built up over multiple campaigns worth of GMing.

The best thing to do going forward is just explain what you were thinking and why it would be cool to have the group be the mundanes. To keep the game alive I'd totally open up that now magic is real the players have access to respec as supernatural characters, its there "awakening".

Another option is to kill off the protagonist and allow the players to have to solve these problems int he mundane way that were supposed to be solved by the protagonists powers.


The biggest concern I am seeing here is that you have a protagonist that isn't a player. Why are the PC's playing second fiddle to a DMPC? That is typically an unfun arrangement magic powers or not.

mephnick
2015-10-23, 02:22 PM
Surprises and twists are never as fun for the players as they are for the DM, so it's usually a bad idea. The players generally don't have all the information to see it as anything but cheap or eye-rolling. You can't really enjoy it like a twist in a movie, because the movie hasn't had you personally invest a bunch of time and effort into it, if that makes sense.

JNAProductions
2015-10-23, 02:23 PM
Oh, that's the whole point of High School Harem Comedy. Everyone competes for the affection of the Protaganist.

I actually did offer a supernatural respec, but one of the players said he'd leave if that happened. He wanted to keep being mundane. That being said, I'll bring it up again, because he might have had a change of heart.


Surprises and twists are never as fun for the players as they are for the DM, so it's usually a bad idea. The players generally don't have all the information to see it as anything but cheap or eye-rolling. You can't really enjoy it like a twist in a movie, because the movie hasn't had you personally invest a bunch of time and effort into it, if that makes sense.

That makes sense. It's definitely something I'll keep in mind for the future.

halfeye
2015-10-23, 02:32 PM
Does anyone have any advice they'd like to share?
Don't do that. :smallsmile:

JNAProductions
2015-10-23, 02:34 PM
Don't do that. :smallsmile:

Helpful. :P

I meant more post-screwup management. Damage control, if you would, rather than avoiding damage that's already occured.

halfeye
2015-10-23, 02:38 PM
Helpful. :P

I meant more post-screwup management. Damage control, if you would, rather than avoiding damage that's already occured.
I tend to take the view that there are no white lies, only pale shades of grey, and they all end up hurting someone, somewhere, eventually.

BWR
2015-10-23, 03:36 PM
Whether it's your mishandling a game or players overreacting really depends on how you handled it. If you just said 'no supernatural PCs', I would be fine with it. If you said 'there are no supernaturals' then pulled one out, I'd be a bit miffed.
If someone threatens to dump the game because of that you either did something a lot worse and haven't told us yet or the player in question is an entitled brat who takes the game way too seriously. I can see getting a bit annoyed at a switcheroo, especially if it's to something you don't like, but I usually cut GMs a lot of slack in how they run their game and what they keep hidden from players. As long as I'm having fun I don't mind a bit of secrecy and minor deception to enhance it. But, that's just me and the degree of acceptable deception obviously varies from person to person.

Short answer: you never know what some people will find offensive and some people will have no problem with.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-23, 04:04 PM
I really, really can't understand this. Now, if you're excited to play in space, and then day one your ship crash lands and the adventure will revolve around surviving on a planet of primitives Flash Gordon style, that could be annoying because you didn't want to play that game, and won't get to play the one you want to. In that case, I'd offer the players the chance to veto the crash essentially, they can get their ship repaired after a one-off adventure with space natives, or they can have a full-on campaign in this area.

But, for subverting their expectations... why play games if you don't want that to happen? A supernatural theme, admittedly, can be a pretty big twist on the setting, if not done right it make hurt immersion or the engagement of the setting. It's possible your supernatural didn't have enough build up or hints. If that's not the issue, it sounds like the players are really overreacting.

I've seen some people get really extreme on this topic. One GM had an adventure where the players were being tricked by their employer, and when they got to the target they were meant to steal, the trickster left them a mocking note. The GM then showed them the notes from the adventure, showing that at several points they had the chance to uncover the trick and stuff the bad guy had to do to react to the players' actions. I think that's great. Someone else was totally against it, saying you can't trick your players ever. A game entirely without tricks and mysteries, I have little interest for, and I'm not sure where this evasiveness towards such comes from. I'd guess because such twists are hard to do well, so you might feel like the GM is stringing you along without a chance to catch him.


Advice: My advice is play to your audience. These players, for whatever reason, despise twists beyond a certain threshold. Work out what that threshold is, and stick to that. If you end up players who like bigger twists, then you can unleash bigger twists. Just remember to foreshadow and build them up, when you do twist, along with chance to catch you in the act.

Hawkstar
2015-10-23, 05:10 PM
There are generally two problems here. One is that the players want to play the original concept, not the 'twist' concept. The other is that the twist takes the game from a fun and interesting initial concept to complete bull****.

You're not the first to make the mistake. Some of the biggest recurring examples are:

Dragonless fantasy world, possibly 'low' fantasy... then SURPRISE! DRAGONS HAVE COME AND HIJACKED OR EATEN THE PLOT! *Yawn*
Realistic contemporary setting adventure. SURPRISE! Zombie Apocalypse. Nobody likes zombies, and now the fun world and adventure was eaten by zombies
Down-to-earth realistic setting. SURPRISE! Magic!

Keltest
2015-10-23, 05:13 PM
There are generally two problems here. One is that the players want to play the original concept, not the 'twist' concept. The other is that the twist takes the game from a fun and interesting initial concept to complete bull****.

You're not the first to make the mistake. Some of the biggest recurring examples are:

Dragonless fantasy world, possibly 'low' fantasy... then SURPRISE! DRAGONS HAVE COME AND HIJACKED OR EATEN THE PLOT! *Yawn*
Realistic contemporary setting adventure. SURPRISE! Zombie Apocalypse. Nobody likes zombies, and now the fun world and adventure was eaten by zombies
Down-to-earth realistic setting. SURPRISE! Magic!


Oh come on, Dragons coming along and eating things is the plot. Its in both the name of every one of the main line of books, and the freaking setting name.

Piedmon_Sama
2015-10-23, 06:09 PM
I don't like dragons, they are too silly.

As to the OP, you committed a venal sin of Gamemastering but not a mortal one. Learn, grow, go forth and meta-twist thine games no more.

Lentrax
2015-10-23, 11:40 PM
Hey, JNA. So I have a couple of things on this.

1. What you did was, from your point of view, perfectly acceptable. You said the PCs could not have supernatural types. Your mistake here was not saying that doesn't mean they don't exist.
2. Now that you have done it, because of the backlash at the chance of respec with supernaturals, you have two choices on the respec: Leave the choice of Supernatural Respec available for the between episodes, or drop it and keep moving.
3. Another choice, and probably the hardest for you, would be introducing a second (non-supernatural) protagonist. Where this leaves you is running basically two games, unless you slowly ween the primary off the game and make it a straight game for the second protagonist.

But the most important part is to talk to your players about these ideas. Don't just do it.

And I know about pulling something over on your players. Blustery Hearts, a game I killed off because of an overall dropping in posts and interest due to issues with how I felt about some things happening in the game. Anyway, a solution I had was introducing a second protagonist. Who happened to be Trans. Who became very open about it after she was drugged. But I made enough points in her introduction and her behaviors that it wasn't much of a surprise when she outed herself.

So, now that I have rambled on enough, my point is to not deny that something is or isn't, but make it clear the possibility exists. if you do that, if they know it can happen, it probably won't be deleterious to the game when it does.

Esprit15
2015-10-24, 12:31 AM
Having been in Len's game, I can say that the reveal was very much an "Oh, that's what they were hinting at. Makes sense." It's fine to pull a surprise on the players, and is good for making the game a bit more surprising. The supernatural archetypes are of questionable balance anyways, and I don't see you as having done anything wrong.

goto124
2015-10-24, 01:07 AM
One GM had an adventure where the players were being tricked by their employer, and when they got to the target they were meant to steal, the trickster left them a mocking note. The GM then showed them the notes from the adventure, showing that at several points they had the chance to uncover the trick and stuff the bad guy had to do to react to the players' actions. I think that's great.

If, before the game started, the GM did not let us know it was one of those games where anyone could be deceitful, I would feel very cheated. After all, I started the game with the employer telling me what to do, it was reasonable to assume that the employer was not going to turn her back on me. Since it's part of the OOC trust that I put on the GM, even if I spotted the points where the trick could've been revealed, I would've attributed it to other reasons such as the GM slipping up.

Now, by 'tricking the players', the GM has broken this OOC trust. That's why I'm so upset.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-24, 01:28 AM
Well, it was Shadowrun. If everyone(anyone) is trustworthy in Shadowrun, I tend to feel you're doing it wrong.

JNAProductions
2015-10-24, 09:30 AM
Hey, JNA. So I have a couple of things on this.

1. What you did was, from your point of view, perfectly acceptable. You said the PCs could not have supernatural types. Your mistake here was not saying that doesn't mean they don't exist.
2. Now that you have done it, because of the backlash at the chance of respec with supernaturals, you have two choices on the respec: Leave the choice of Supernatural Respec available for the between episodes, or drop it and keep moving.
3. Another choice, and probably the hardest for you, would be introducing a second (non-supernatural) protagonist. Where this leaves you is running basically two games, unless you slowly ween the primary off the game and make it a straight game for the second protagonist.

But the most important part is to talk to your players about these ideas. Don't just do it.

And I know about pulling something over on your players. Blustery Hearts, a game I killed off because of an overall dropping in posts and interest due to issues with how I felt about some things happening in the game. Anyway, a solution I had was introducing a second protagonist. Who happened to be Trans. Who became very open about it after she was drugged. But I made enough points in her introduction and her behaviors that it wasn't much of a surprise when she outed herself.

So, now that I have rambled on enough, my point is to not deny that something is or isn't, but make it clear the possibility exists. if you do that, if they know it can happen, it probably won't be deleterious to the game when it does.

Thanks for the advice, Len, as well as everyone else.

Chauncymancer
2015-10-26, 12:12 AM
If someone threatens to dump the game because of that you either did something a lot worse and haven't told us yet or the player in question is an entitled brat who takes the game way too seriously.

I would be roughly as upset if my friend lied to me about something as trivial as a game as if he had killed a small animal. I don't consider people who lie to me over games to be my friends, and I don't want to play games with them. I'm not an "entitled brat", just because I don't approve of dishonest cheaters. This is why when there's a twist you say " there is a twist, but I'm not telling you what it is, okay?" And I'll be like "as long as the twist isn't that Protagonist is a vampire, go right ahead.". And that's fine

Mr. Mask
2015-10-26, 12:18 AM
Erm, considering someone lying in a game equivalent to animal abuse seems messed up. Heck, this isn't even lying, it's withholding information. That's where this mentality that the GM can never ever trick the player seems contrived, as it would render poker, liars dice, and so many board games unplayable.

goto124
2015-10-26, 12:25 AM
That's where this mentality that the GM can never ever trick the player seems contrived, as it would render poker, liars dice, and so many board games unplayable.


This is why when there's a twist you say " there is a twist, but I'm not telling you what it is, okay?" And I'll be like "as long as the twist isn't that Protagonist is a vampire, go right ahead.". And that's fine

The two paragraphs here go along.

When you play poker/liars dice/Paranoia/etc, you KNOW you're going to have certain types of information withheld from you, because it's part of the game. The knowledge of the nature of what you don't know (eh heh heh) allows you to be reasonable prepared for circumstances that surround not knowing certain things.

Now that I read the OP again, the DM has disallowed supernatural archetypes, but made the Protaganist supernatural herself. The players could've been upset at what they percieve to be the DM saying 'other PCs don't get magic but my special snowflake DMPC does!'

It goes back to how withholding information can put the players at an unfair disadvantage that breaks DM-player trust.

What game system was this, by the way? Did that system have rules for supernatural archetypes? How did the DM pitch the game?

Mr. Mask
2015-10-26, 12:50 AM
What GM outlines the plot in detail before you get to it, with no twists? That'd be a horrible game. The Giant has neat examples on his site, like the adventurers who come to rescue the princess being served dinner at the villain's leisure by a dancing girl, who performs for them. Finally they grow impatient and say they're here for the princess. The villain gestures, and the dancing girl lifts her veil, revealing deep bruises--on the princess's smiling face.

That is a pretty neat twist for a villain. However, that would be totally out of the question, because the players will flip tables and shout, "BETRAAAYED!" if anything happens outside of their expectations. You're very much given the impression that people in the game can to lie to you, that you don't know everything about the world. That's what it means to play a roleplaying game, unless you're going with the plot-rail amusement park with a leaflet describing the attractions on your way through.


Issues of DMPCs and the like have not even come up in the discussion, so assuming that's the case is more than premature.... If that is the problem, then the problem isn't that the GM "lied," but that they wanted to be a DMPC.

Quertus
2015-10-26, 01:48 AM
If most of the world believes that there is nothing supernatural in the world, and you wanted the players to create characters who not only were natural (banal, non-magical), but believed in a natural world, then, in my opinion, you did nothing wrong. In fact, the way you presented it was probably about the only way to ensure that the magical did not (subtly or overtly) influence the players choice of character. Kudos to all zero players who caught your clever rules loophole.

If their characters would have known that the world was at least somewhat magical, but you wanted them to create normal characters, then you probably presented things poorly.

As to how to fix things... I would not recommend letting players re-spec to supernatural - certainly not after one of the players has objected to it. I would recommend discussion, and trying to get buy-in.

Everyone signed on for what they thought was "Mundane High School (College) Harem Comedy". Explain your reasoning (whatever it was), and see if "High School (College) Harem Comedy with mundane characters and supernatural protagonist" is a game the group is willing to play. If not, discuss fallback options. One player has already rejected "Supernatural High School (College) Harem Comedy"; all have already accepted "Mundane High School (College) Harem Comedy". The "easiest" solution is to play what everyone has already accepted... if that is something you are willing to play.

Another possibility is to run "High School (College) Harem Comedy with supernatural protagonist and both mundane and supernatural characters". But I can see lots of reasons for people to object to that one, too.

goto124
2015-10-26, 02:22 AM
What GM outlines the plot in detail before you get to it, with no twists? That'd be a horrible game.

Those are twists in the story. Twists in the genre itself, not so much. Space exploration shouldn't turn into swamp survival. Mundane genres shouldn't suddenly have magic in it. Etc.

Tvtyrant
2015-10-26, 02:26 AM
Have a talk with the group, tell them what your intentions were and that you meant no harm, ask if they want a retcon or would like to proceed apace. The whole point of P&Ps is community participation.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-26, 03:27 AM
Goto: Then your issue is with genre expectations, not with "lying"....

BWR
2015-10-26, 11:25 AM
I would be roughly as upset if my friend lied to me about something as trivial as a game as if he had killed a small animal. I don't consider people who lie to me over games to be my friends, and I don't want to play games with them. I'm not an "entitled brat", just because I don't approve of dishonest cheaters. This is why when there's a twist you say " there is a twist, but I'm not telling you what it is, okay?" And I'll be like "as long as the twist isn't that Protagonist is a vampire, go right ahead.". And that's fine

Good thing we don't play games together, then. In one game I'm currently in, we were told "only humans". Fine, no problem. now, a couple of years later IRL and about a year in game we are told we might be allowed to play elves. ZOMG, he was lying. Or maybe he wanted us to start as humans and establish the setting for us and not spoil anything, letting the players learn about it at the same rate as the characters.
This is obviously as bad as running over a cat and he is a horrible person.

tensai_oni
2015-10-26, 11:55 AM
I would be roughly as upset if my friend lied to me about something as trivial as a game as if he had killed a small animal. I don't consider people who lie to me over games to be my friends, and I don't want to play games with them.

You may want to re-examine your priorities because that's kinda screwed up.

Bobb
2015-10-26, 01:06 PM
Did the new magical properties of the protagonist help (or hinder) any particular player(s)?


Would your player(s) have done things differently had they known?


If yes happens that may be the source of frustration(s).

JNAProductions
2015-10-26, 01:09 PM
Did the new magical properties of the protagonist help (or hinder) any particular player(s)?


Would your player(s) have done things differently had they known?


If yes happens that may be the source of frustration(s).

It affects all players pretty much equally, though one character (not player, character) in particular is rather jealous.

I would hope not-their characters had no idea, even if the palyers did.

Gray Mage
2015-10-26, 01:30 PM
Goto: Then your issue is with genre expectations, not with "lying"....

I feel this is more or less like signing up for a game in Eberron and being dumped in Ravenloft in the first session. Or sign up for political intrigue and then have only dungeon delving.

It's simply not what the players signed up for.

All in all, I'm ok with my character being lied to, but lying to the players themselves is different.

Mark Hall
2015-10-26, 02:11 PM
Perfectly acceptable, IMO.

Imagine, for a moment, an X-Files game. The players aren't allowed to be supernatural, but that doesn't mean the supernatural is off the table. The agents are FBI agents who made it through training (and pretraining education). They're unlikely to be on the spooky squad if they've got deeply hidden secrets that can possibly have been ferreted out.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-26, 04:41 PM
Gray Mage: Nope, entirely invalid comparison. The game was still a harem comedy presumably, just that the love interest was more than emotionally special.

Lentrax
2015-10-26, 04:43 PM
The biggest question here though, is the game itself.

High school Harem Comedy is a game where the players are all competing for the affections of the Protagonist, a character played by the DM. It's in no way a DMPC, because the players successful rolls and actions effectively limit the DM from just picking someone and spending all their time with one character. In fact, my protagonists that I make for the game don't have sheets or archetypes at all, just a list of personality traits, like Jessie had the traits of "Overprotective of her computer." and "Detests violence as problem solving."

The real question here is, should it matter to the Players that the Protagonist is something they can't have?

I don't think so, but my opinion, valid as it is, is just that. My opinion. Yours may be (and probably is) different from mine.

And that's okay. But when a problem arises where two opinions clash, take the time and talk about it. Don't just threaten to leave because something didn't meet your expectations.

Gray Mage
2015-10-26, 05:31 PM
Gray Mage: Nope, entirely invalid comparison. The game was still a harem comedy presumably, just that the love interest was more than emotionally special.

Perhaps from Eberron to Ravenloft was too much a jump, but if it were from say Greyhawk to Forgotten Realms it could still be adventure D&D, while also being different from what players expected. Maybe they actively wanted to not have supernatural elements in the game and were happy when the DM proposed a purely mundane game.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-26, 06:26 PM
Questionable. If you're playing a mundane school game, and then you find out the NPC has had the ability to predict small things in the future since they were a child, I don't see the problem. It's weird, and maybe he's just imagining the ability or mistaken, or even lying. Having to accept people have supernatural abilities would be a bit of a shock to the characters--but it doesn't really impact the setting or adventure that much, aside from being a neat twist. If it turns out the protagonist is an alien, that's odder, and if it turns out he's preparing for an alien invasion, that sort of hurts the mundane life aspect.

It raises the question, must games always stay the same? Not really, no. If it changes in a way that other people dislike or don't feel like playing, that's an issue, but not really one of trust and lying and betrayal--that's much too dramatic. I mean, if people felt things were getting a little stale as you went through all the mundane tropes and were running out of ideas, then suddenly the GM throws a twist at you that offers to change the game into Madoka, the players answering with a resounding, "heck yeah!", then clearly there is no problem at that table. The GM did the same thing, yet it is not innately wrong--so the argument it is wrong as a matter of course is invalid. If however the GM makes the game Madoka with the other players kicking and screaming, that is wrong. So, if the GM essentially has a Madoka twist, the correct response is not "you monster!" (well, maybe it is for different reasons), but to discuss whether the group is interested in pursuing that.

This makes it a matter of knowing your players, really, and possibly making it so the twist can be vetoed or ignored if you're not sure how it'll be received. This could be an interesting thing for a mundane school game's story, actually, where sometimes the characters discuss, "I wonder what'd happen if we'd made that contract..." and you can say your characters chose the "real" world over a magical existence, which is pretty neat. Or if the adventurers discuss that time they found the necromonicon, then immediately left that cave and buried the entrance in an avalanche, wanting nothing to do with whatever THAT was. Or of course, like I suggested earlier, you could make crashing your spaceship on the swamp planet can potentially be a single adventure, or a full on campaign, based off player interest.

Gray Mage
2015-10-26, 06:47 PM
Questionable. If you're playing a mundane school game, and then you find out the NPC has had the ability to predict small things in the future since they were a child, I don't see the problem. It's weird, and maybe he's just imagining the ability or mistaken, or even lying. Having to accept people have supernatural abilities would be a bit of a shock to the characters--but it doesn't really impact the setting or adventure that much, aside from being a neat twist. If it turns out the protagonist is an alien, that's odder, and if it turns out he's preparing for an alien invasion, that sort of hurts the mundane life aspect.


Nowhere that I can see it's described that the supernatural elements were light in tone, so this could very well not apply.



It raises the question, must games always stay the same? Not really, no. If it changes in a way that other people dislike or don't feel like playing, that's an issue, but not really one of trust and lying and betrayal--that's much too dramatic. I mean, if people felt things were getting a little stale as you went through all the mundane tropes and were running out of ideas, then suddenly the GM throws a twist at you that offers to change the game into Madoka, the players answering with a resounding, "heck yeah!", then clearly there is no problem at that table. The GM did the same thing, yet it is not innately wrong--so the argument it is wrong as a matter of course is invalid. If however the GM makes the game Madoka with the other players kicking and screaming, that is wrong. So, if the GM essentially has a Madoka twist, the correct response is not "you monster!" (well, maybe it is for different reasons), but to discuss whether the group is interested in pursuing that.


Granted that it might be me reading into it, but what I understood is that he changed things from the start, so not a case of a game evolving. Also, it seems like the players are kicking and screaming, so to speak.



This makes it a matter of knowing your players, really, and possibly making it so the twist can be vetoed or ignored if you're not sure how it'll be received. This could be an interesting thing for a mundane school game's story, actually, where sometimes the characters discuss, "I wonder what'd happen if we'd made that contract..." and you can say your characters chose the "real" world over a magical existence, which is pretty neat. Or if the adventurers discuss that time they found the necromonicon, then immediately left that cave and buried the entrance in an avalanche, wanting nothing to do with whatever THAT was. Or of course, like I suggested earlier, you could make crashing your spaceship on the swamp planet can potentially be a single adventure, or a full on campaign, based off player interest.

And in this case player interest seems to be in a non supernatural campaign, making the change an unwanted and thus badly received one.

JNAProductions
2015-10-26, 06:50 PM
Nowhere that I can see it's described that the supernatural elements were light in tone, so this could very well not apply.



Granted that it might be me reading into it, but what I understood is that he changed things from the start, so not a case of a game evolving. Also, it seems like the players are kicking and screaming, so to speak.



And in this case player interest seems to be in a non supernatural campaign, making the change an unwanted and thus badly received one.

It was not light in tone, no. It was a big thing.

Some were ojecting, some were cool with it.

Everyone has basically settled down. The bigger issue now is interpersonal conflicts, which are just... Not fun.

themaque
2015-10-26, 09:06 PM
Perfectly acceptable, IMO.

Imagine, for a moment, an X-Files game. The players aren't allowed to be supernatural, but that doesn't mean the supernatural is off the table. The agents are FBI agents who made it through training (and pretraining education). They're unlikely to be on the spooky squad if they've got deeply hidden secrets that can possibly have been ferreted out.

It also depends on how the game as sold as a whole.

If we are playing a game set in Rome, and I'm told there are no supernatural characters, I would also need to know if there are any supernatural elements at all in game. If I had been led to believe there where none, I could be upset. If I had just ASSUMED there where none, then that's still poor communication but partially my own fault.

goto124
2015-10-27, 02:59 AM
then suddenly the GM throws a twist at you that offers to change the game into Madoka, the players answering with a resounding, "heck yeah!", then clearly there is no problem at that table. The GM did the same thing, yet it is not innately wrong--so the argument it is wrong as a matter of course is invalid. If however the GM makes the game Madoka with the other players kicking and screaming, that is wrong. So, if the GM essentially has a Madoka twist, the correct response is not "you monster!" (well, maybe it is for different reasons), but to discuss whether the group is interested in pursuing that.

Or, the GM could ask the players beforehand? 'Hey guys, I think it'll freshen things up if the party visits a town full of Harry-Potter-style wizards, what do you think?'

Mr. Mask
2015-10-27, 03:01 AM
.... "Hey guys, how would you feel if it turned out you were dead the whole time?" "How would you feel if the bad guy was your father?" "How would you feel if you are the bad guy, and hadn't realized it?" "What are your feelings about this character dying unexpectedly? Do you think you won't expect that when it happens?"

Tvtyrant
2015-10-27, 03:34 AM
.... "Hey guys, how would you feel if it turned out you were dead the whole time?" "How would you feel if the bad guy was your father?" "How would you feel if you are the bad guy, and hadn't realized it?" "What are your feelings about this character dying unexpectedly? Do you think you won't expect that when it happens?"
What works in other media does not translate to group games. Having a single super important protagonist is common in almost everything elsex but is at the root of the DMPC issue.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-27, 04:15 AM
Actually, it tends to be a good idea to spot-light a particular player or two in a particular session. Focusing on everyone at once tends to be less interesting. Too bad there don't exist any movies or books with several major characters in the same story.... Also, we need to stop trying to imitate action movies and get rid of combat--combat is at the root of total party death problems.

Mutazoia
2015-10-29, 08:20 AM
For reference the game system in question can be found here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?290243-High-School-Harem-Comedy-(Game-System-PEACH))

Now, the fundamental difference in HSHC is that the protagonist isn't an actual NPC, at least not by RAW. The protagonist (by RAW) is just a goal and doesn't really do much in the game other than wander from class to class while the PC's fawn/drool over him (or her) and do their best to win him over. By RAW, the protagonist could be a normal human, or Godzilla, and have the same impact on the world around him. So having the protagonist being the one supernatural person in a world full of muggles means exactly squat. If he's house ruled in stats for the protagonist and is playing them like an NPC, he's off the reservation as far as the rule set goes. Basically, by RAW the protagonist has all the personality of a cardboard cut out. A suggestion was made to give the protagonist a set of personality traits, but not an actual archetype....

Now that that's out of the way:

Depending on how you presented the archetype choices to the players, we have two possible situations.

When asked what archetypes were available for character creation, you said:

You said "No Supernaturals".
You said "Supernaturals don't exist"


If 1, then the players don't really have any reason to whine. You didn't let them make supernatural characters, but didn't actually say there was no such things as Vampires/Demons/etc. You probably could have explained the universe you were creating a little better...maybe said they cannot make supernatural characters, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

If 2, then yeah, they have a right to be a little miffed, since they supernaturals were seemingly shoe horned in late in the game, but they don't really have any real reason to be mad. RPG's are all about surprises and encountering the unknown. You could just tell them "well now you know how Xander and Willow felt when they found out that Buffy was the Slayer, and that Vampires were real.

All in all, your initial presentation probably could have been better, but I don't think you really need to feel too bad about it. Just move on with the game and be more clear about that kind of thing in the future.

Jay R
2015-10-29, 09:59 PM
Does anyone have any advice they'd like to share?

Get some players who don't have a sense of entitlement, and who understand that surprises will be surprising.

Hawkstar
2015-10-30, 05:30 PM
Perfectly acceptable, IMO.

Imagine, for a moment, an X-Files game. The players aren't allowed to be supernatural, but that doesn't mean the supernatural is off the table. The agents are FBI agents who made it through training (and pretraining education). They're unlikely to be on the spooky squad if they've got deeply hidden secrets that can possibly have been ferreted out.

But what if it was pitched as an NCIS, not X-Files, game?

Jay R
2015-10-30, 07:20 PM
But what if it was pitched as an NCIS, not X-Files, game?

Most horror movies start with investigators who don't believe in the werewolves, vampires, zombies, or other supernatural phenomena that they are threatened with. It's pretty standard to the genre.

BlackestOfMages
2015-10-30, 07:28 PM
Most horror movies start with investigators who don't believe in the werewolves, vampires, zombies, or other supernatural phenomena that they are threatened with. It's pretty standard to the genre.

but the audeince knows that its a horror movie :smallwink: and thats what the players be

Segev
2015-10-30, 08:57 PM
My gut reaction is that it smacks of making the protagonist a mary sue GMPC. That said, it's a harem game...and I'm not really sure how well those work in general. The "protagonist" would HAVE to be a GMPC if he's not a PC. SO...I dunno.

Mr. Mask
2015-10-30, 08:59 PM
Movies make it obvious what is going on due to restrictions. They have to advertise themselves the best they can, which involves showing off all the good stuff they have. A few films, stories and games have managed to have an experience that defied expectations.

Piedmon_Sama
2015-10-30, 09:27 PM
but the audeince knows that its a horror movie :smallwink: and thats what the players be

I think that right there is the disconnect I have with my own players. They see themselves as an audience, which is not how I view playing in an RPG at all.

Mark Hall
2015-10-31, 09:43 AM
But what if it was pitched as an NCIS, not X-Files, game?

Then you are a horrible person and should feel bad. :smallbiggrin:

More seriously, I still don't have a problem with it. Yes, the game started out mundane, but the GM added weird elements to it. So long as the influx of fantasy was handled well, and didn't invalidate anyone's character concept, I don't have a problem with "Well, it might be vampires" being a viable option as the game goes on.

Jay R
2015-10-31, 10:15 AM
But what if it was pitched as an NCIS, not X-Files, game?

Then the players were put in a meta-game position, whether turned out to actually be NCIS or X-Files.

I prefer, "I'll be running a game set in the modern world. Your characters can have any of today's technology, but no magic."

Theoboldi
2015-10-31, 10:38 AM
I don't get it. How does wanting to know what kind of genre he's playing in and disliking sudden changes in that genre make a player have an overblown sense of entitlement? Everyone at the table's entitled to have fun and have in say in what kind of game they are playing, aren't they? :smallconfused:

goto124
2015-10-31, 10:50 AM
People have argued that it's not a sudden change in genre, even if magical elements have been added.

I mostly agree with Mutazoia.

Theoboldi
2015-10-31, 11:03 AM
I see. Still, even then I find the accusations against the players in this thread pretty weird. Even if it is not, strictly speaking, a change in genre, how does it make a player entitled if he does not like supernatural elements showing up in a game he thought was presented as a mundane one?

Perhaps in this particular case I could agree, given that their described reaction seems a bit extreme (but since I don't know what fully happened, I don't want to judge them), though I find that overall this is a pretty toxic stance to take against one's players and is not a good reaction to any situation like this one.

JNAProductions
2015-10-31, 11:08 AM
Just to clarify, while there was some disgruntlement initially, everyone seems pretty okay with how things went. No one left the game, and everyone seems to still be having fun.

Callos_DeTerran
2015-10-31, 02:00 PM
Well, deceived them, at least, but it's basically equitable.

It's a High School (College) Harem Comedy game, one where I disallowed supernatural archetypes, but I made the Protaganist supernatural herself.

At least one of the players was pretty upset about the switcharoo, and I very nearly lost players over it.

Before you ask, I have been talking to the players about it, and I have apologized several times.

Does anyone have any advice they'd like to share?

...I'll be honest, I don't think that you did anything wrong and find it more weird that you nearly lost players over it. I mean really? :smallconfused: I got nothing because I've never had a situation like this come up, based on the further information you mentioned later on in the thread, your players honestly come off as...I can't think of the word..cause the one that comes to mind is 'entitled' but that's not right.

Jay R
2015-10-31, 03:14 PM
I don't get it. How does wanting to know what kind of genre he's playing in and disliking sudden changes in that genre make a player have an overblown sense of entitlement? Everyone at the table's entitled to have fun and have in say in what kind of game they are playing, aren't they? :smallconfused:

Call it what you like. The fact remains that the modern horror and supernatural genre is generally about people who initially believe that the supernatural doesn't exist, and the horror element is to discover that it does.

By definition, to play within this genre, the characters do not know that it exists. The easiest way to play that is for the players to not know that it exists.

Some players feel entitled to know things about the world they are playing in that the PCs do not know. Others like the idea of surprises to the PCs surprising the players as well. The best players for a game in which genre surprises occur are those who don't feel entitled to know all about the world in advance.

Someday I plan to run a game of SF characters who fall into a fantasy world. I know which players I will invite to that game. They will be players who are open to big surprises, and trust me as a GM. [They will also be people who I already know enjoy both SF and fantasy.]

goto124
2015-10-31, 08:06 PM
Personally, I would place OOC trust over 'surprising' the players, because the 'surprise' is more likely to be a shock for the players instead.

Isn't "mundane investigative/horror game turns out supernatural" a far larger genre change than "Love Interest (who doesn't do anything anyway) in Harem Comedy is supernatural"?

Mr. Mask
2015-10-31, 08:33 PM
It's really weird how sensitive people have become to being tricked at all. Being tricked used to be an accepted part of storytelling, or magic shows, the idea was to let the storyteller trick you so you can have fun. Nowadays, I see films that use a lot of tricks getting berated by people who seem to be peeved about just that, I see game creators and the like labelled as trolls for being tricky or misleading with their product, I've seen people take a surprising amount of offence to betrayal even in games where betrayal is a mechanic, and I've seen the tabletop community react like this to twists of any kind in a game. I recall someone arguing you can never have a twist the players don't essentially know about, offended at the idea of having behind-the-scenes actions the players can figure out by interacting with the game world which will have consequences if they don't. The idea of the world not revolving around the players and thus only what happens in front of their eyes exists has become a sacred one, with twists and a larger living world becoming heresy. Maybe people have come to believe they're too clever to be tricked?

AvatarVecna
2015-10-31, 09:05 PM
It's really weird how sensitive people have become to being tricked at all. Being tricked used to be an accepted part of storytelling, or magic shows, the idea was to let the storyteller trick you so you can have fun. Nowadays, I see films that use a lot of tricks getting berated by people who seem to be peeved about just that, I see game creators and the like labelled as trolls for being tricky or misleading with their product, I've seen people take a surprising amount of offence to betrayal even in games where betrayal is a mechanic, and I've seen the tabletop community react like this to twists of any kind in a game. I recall someone arguing you can never have a twist the players don't essentially know about, offended at the idea of having behind-the-scenes actions the players can figure out by interacting with the game world which will have consequences if they don't. The idea of the world not revolving around the players and thus only what happens in front of their eyes exists has become a sacred one, with twists and a larger living world becoming heresy. Maybe people have come to believe they're too clever to be tricked?

Hi. Just letting you know, I'm in the game the OP is running; I was at the start, and I still am. Everybody still is, although we've come close to some real issues because of this, but it's been put behind us at this point and we've moved on. In regards to what you've said above, here's what it boils down to for me:

1) The part I've underlined has been so indicated to point out that people go to those kinds of entertainment because they want to be tricked, and being tricked is necessary to the entertainment. Twists and turns in a story have their place, but they have to operate hand in hand with the audience's suspension of disbelief...and that's part of the problem. In a tabletop RPG, the players are not the audience at a play/movie/magic show, they're the performers. If a magician was going to saw me in half, I'd want to know about it before hand so I could take part in fooling the "audience" appropriately. The DM makes up the main story, but he's not the only storyteller: the players (through their characters) influence the story, and if we're not prepared for the twists and turns as players, we might stumble over them, or miss a cue, or react badly IC because it was a bad surprise OOC. Some surprises are necessary in stories because the players are part-audience as well as part-actors, but leaving them completely out of the loop is just as unenjoyable for them as if you spoiled all the surprises. There needs to be a balance, or things can go badly.

2) Lying about an in-game thing is an issue, but lying about the basic premise of the game is a whole different story, especially in pbp where people spend days (or even weeks) putting together characters that fit well with both the world and the other party members. If we were playing 3.5, and magic options were forbidden, and it was otherwise presented as a standard D&D world (like LotR or something), I would assume that it was a no- or low-magic world; if we arrived, and (halfway through the first session) found that it was a high-magic world and we're part of a slave caste in that world, that's a very different game than what was necessarily presented to us. That can be a problem if we've built characters for a very different world, because suddenly that LG Monk stops looking so cool, or that LN ranger is almost as bad as the enemy.

As an example, one of the characters in this game is very much the jealous type, but not romantically: anybody being capable of something that she can never be good at is somebody she can never get along with while staying in-character...and halfway through the first session, the protagonist (and I'll remind you that the goal in this game is to get the protagonist to fall in love with you) is capable of magic, and magic isn't something you can learn; you've either got it, or you don't.

3) Beyond building characters that don't fit the game we're playing because they were built for the game we were told we'd get, there's the issue of players being interested in the game only because we were given the impression that it was (or was not) a particular kind of game. If, in example with mages and the slave caste, I only joined the game because I hated high-op 3.5 stuff and wanted to have fun playing a competent non-caster, why should I stay in a game where casters rule the world? That is exactly the kind of game I was avoiding, and this game being presented as anti-magic was the only reason I joine, so why should I stay?

Hawkstar
2015-10-31, 09:09 PM
There's a difference between a trick and a betrayal.

However, in this situation, the problem is compounded by saturation, and a sense of "Not at all what I signed up for". There is also the issue that players are in an odd spot in their relationship with their characters, something as both an audience and actor.

goto124
2015-10-31, 09:55 PM
AvatarVecna: Thank you so much, it really expresses what I've been trying to put into words. May I sig it?

Out of curosity, what sort of magic did the protaganist have? What did he/she used it for?

Mr. Mask
2015-10-31, 10:09 PM
Avatar: 1) Games vary in actor to audience ratio. Some don't even have GMs, the players make the story. Even in those cases, players will surprise each other and try to conjure twists, then the other players will figure out how their characters will react to it. The world isn't a place where you can decide what sort of person you want to be and what is going to happen to you, and roleplaying is limited in that application as proper roleplaying will have you play the role--the character who doesn't know what is going to happen to them tomorrow, particularly if they've gone down the rabbit hole that is adventuring. Discussing character arcs with the GM can, thankfully, be separated from this, where you can discuss the sort of character you want to play and what you want to happen to them generally, and the GM can work this into their plot without revealing it to you.

2) Not letting the players know the outset of a game's world is a problem, as they can't make characters they fit into the world without that information. It also doesn't work well as a twist, as there is nothing that exists yet to twist. However, say having highschool students get kidnapped and thrown on an island where they have to kill each other, it can be useful to have the game's premise start out just as highschool life. Because if you say, "you're going to be on an island and kill each other," players tend to optimize for that in implausible and OOC ways. I remember a game where everyone was exchange students from secret military child soldier projects, because the players weren't getting into the role of kids suddenly thrown into a kill or be killed situation. Now, you have the same problem with that twist that movies have. You'll attract the wrong audience, or you won't attract anyone because you're not advertising your prime material. It requires a level of trust between GM and player, and for the players to be interested in playing out the twist. It also puts some risk of having a character you aren't interested in seeing face that situation, which is a pity as part of the fun of roleplaying is working out how a character reacts to situations. It's possible the best compromise would be to get all the players to come up with character concepts in a few minutes which they want to flesh out and play for a highschool life game, then reveal after they decided that you want to play the hunger games with those characters. This would allow some discussion as to whether the characters thought up were interesting enough for that scenario and whether they were interested in pursuing the game, while maintaining the idea of ordinary kids thrown into the situation.

With your example of having a jealous character, I don't see how that's an issue. In fact, it creates an interesting dynamic. Did the protagonist have any traits the character was jealous of before? If so, and he's the so-cool character she loves out of rivalry and jealous admiration, that can build up the potential, "I'll never be a match for him..." character arc, where she loses confidence. If she liked him because there was nothing to be jealous of, then this creates conflict in her affection. The fact that she wants to have magic but can't could be it's own arc of itself, for comedy or drama or the like.

3) Does your game world lack normal people without special powers? Does everyone know special powers exist? If not, then your characters are more suited for the game than if you made them a team of espers. The fact aliens and magic exist doesn't really impact your characters' love life too strongly, even the object of affection having magic doesn't seem like it will. And in general, a game where you face tough moments and have to work out how to react is the very engagement of RPGs.

As for your point of casters ruling the world... that sounds like the perfect game for someone sick of high-level casters dominating the party. The object of your annoyance becomes your antagonist, and the party has to figure out a way to overcome the seemingly invincible, unfairly powerful villain. It's classic shonen. Since the annoying spellcasters aren't in your party, you get to have a bond between the party members in your desire to defeat the mages and being unlike them, and the game can flesh out the idea of unfair and overpowered classes in games, how the world would play out if DnD mages existed, how to defeat DnD Mages, and arrogance in power leading to defeat by those with a will to resist and not give up. Now, if you wanted a game where fighters ruled the world because fighters are awesome, and you'd get to be a fighter and by proxy become awesome, then yes, it wouldn't be much of a power fantasy to play with a mighty mage antagonist (interestingly, there has been backlash against non-pathetic, non-comedic, impressive and terrifying villains as well, lately).



Mostly, the arguments used against twists could be used against many forms of engagement in RPGs. Just about anything in a game can have the question posed, "but what if the players don't like it?" to the point where the only solution is to only play games where the players decide (which exist), where in turn players will have to ask themselves, "what if the other players don't like this?" and so the game won't be able to generate content except by committee and vote.

In short, people like to think up all sorts of reasons to not have fun, when they should be thinking of reasons to have fun (Pollyanna would be good reading).

AvatarVecna
2015-10-31, 10:14 PM
AvatarVecna: Thank you so much, it really expresses what I've been trying to put into words. May I sig it?

Out of curosity, what sort of magic did the protaganist have? What did he/she used it for?

You'll probably have to shorten it more than a bit to sig it (or link it) but sure. And as of yet, Senpai's magic hasn't really come up beyond a "oh BTW she's magic"...but that's mostly because it was a bomb dropped at the end of the episode, and we just started the second one. She's a "Magical Girl" (if you're not overly familiar with the genre, think "Sailor Moon").

Part of the problem is that we signed up for a "college students romancing the transfer student" to "that same thing plus an unspecified amount of magical intrigue": the only reason we found out near the end of episode one is because our school bus got knocked off a bridge, and we all ended up in a hospital...where a maybe-magical hitman attempted to kidnap/steal from the Magical Girl DMPC the game is focused around. It's obvious that the magic stuff going on with her isn't supposed to be a huge secret for the characters, since they found out so soon, but if we were going to find out in episode one anyway, why not tell the players? We've got characters that were built for college-level student politics and dealing with school bullies, not fighting the forces of evil. Both in the mechanical and literary sense, we could've been better equipped for this kind of game if we'd known it was coming.

Another art of the problem is that we still don't really know what kind of game we're in; is this just like "Power Rangers/Sailor Moon After Hours", where we focus mostly on the school stuff, and deal with the magic as an afterthought, or is this going to shift to focus mostly on the magic side of things? We still don't know. About the only thing we might be able to depend on is the scale of the issues: our collective Senpai (who we must pursue romantically as the goal of the system we're playing in) is Nanoha from some anime; she and her friend Fate are apparently two of the Earth's most powerful combat mages...and they're approaching low DBZ levels of power, if they're not there already. And the rest of us, who have to get that powerhouse to fall in love with us? Yeah, we're college kids. That's more than a bit of a problem if it's not handled properly. Thankfully, Fate won't be showing up all the time, since she's both the canon relationship and the Childhood Friend, but there's still issues that could come up.

Final part of the problem: two of the players have played together in the past, and seem to have very different play-styles as well as strong meta-ideas on how the game should be played. Both of them had reasons for wanting to keep the game non-magical; one was the jealous example given in my previous post, and the other would've been fine with playing a magic character (or non-magic in a magic game) if they'd been told up-front about it, but they weren't.

We've been allowed to respec our characters, both because of the dropped bomb of "magic is real" as well (we're allowed to take an extra archetype and extra advantages, and can select a homebrew "Magical Girl" archetype that I made, which is partially based on the one Lentrax made), and part because some players were really new to the game and were disenchanted with the choices they made for story because they suck mechanically. Hopefully, things will run smoother from here on out, but things could get kinda weird down the road.

Hawkstar
2015-10-31, 11:40 PM
We've got characters that were built for college-level student politics and dealing with school bullies, not fighting the forces of evil. Both in the mechanical and literary sense, we could've been better equipped for this kind of game if we'd known it was coming.
Maybe this was the whole point of keeping it secret?

AvatarVecna
2015-10-31, 11:44 PM
Avatar: 1) Games vary in actor to audience ratio. Some don't even have GMs, the players make the story. Even in those cases, players will surprise each other and try to conjure twists, then the other players will figure out how their characters will react to it. The world isn't a place where you can decide what sort of person you want to be and what is going to happen to you, and roleplaying is limited in that application as proper roleplaying will have you play the role--the character who doesn't know what is going to happen to them tomorrow, particularly if they've gone down the rabbit hole that is adventuring.

I mostly agree with you, in that surprising the players is key to surprising the characters, and that can make for great story. Where I disagree with you is on the limits of RPing something: even with as much time as I spend crafting my character's personality, beliefs, backstory, and general outlook on life, I can still come across situations where something happens and I have no idea how my character would respond...simply because who they are isn't nearly as ingrained into my mind as who I am; I know how I'd react to magic happening (either full denial or "magic is real" boner), but that's partially because I'm a D&D addict; my character in the game is a politically-minded high-society miss with a heart of gold, who's dedicated to advancing her family's political beliefs and standing in the eyes of the country to improve it. How would she react? I'm not entirely sure, and now I'm kind of in a time-crunch to figure it out. If this was an IRL game, I wouldn't have had the time I've had already, I would've just had to RP it, and that can be problematic when you're playing somebody so different from yourself on the personal level.


Discussing character arcs with the GM can, thankfully, be separated from this, where you can discuss the sort of character you want to play and what you want to happen to them generally, and the GM can work this into their plot without revealing it to you.

And what if you have a character in mind, and you're really set on playing that character...and that character doesn't fit into the story at all whatsoever, like...let's use the Apostle of Peace as an example. If the DM's campaign idea is that the political tensions between two countries has become too great to pacify, and the PCs must choose a side in the war, and one player wants to play an Apostle of Peace, what should the DM do: shoehorn a character into a story where the two can't coincide without a lot of work on everybody's part, or tell the player than can't play the character they want to play?


2) Not letting the players know the outset of a game's world is a problem, as they can't make characters they fit into the world without that information. It also doesn't work well as a twist, as there is nothing that exists yet to twist. However, say having highschool students get kidnapped and thrown on an island where they have to kill each other, it can be useful to have the game's premise start out just as highschool life. Because if you say, "you're going to be on an island and kill each other," players tend to optimize for that in implausible and OOC ways. I remember a game where everyone was exchange students from secret military child soldier projects, because the players weren't getting into the role of kids suddenly thrown into a kill or be killed situation. Now, you have the same problem with that twist that movies have. You'll attract the wrong audience, or you won't attract anyone because you're not advertising your prime material.

That may be true on some occasions, but withholding from your players the premise of the game on the off-chance they're ******* munchkin min-maxers is more than a bit rude unless you know them well enough to be sure about it...and if you know them, why are you gaming with them? If a player is causing a problem for the other players, whether the player or character is too aggressively dickish, is something a DM has to solve; if they player won't stop causing an issue despite...well, you don't owe them a game; they can go find somebody willing to tolerate their BS if they really want to, but you don't have to tolerate their acting like that. Play with people that can handle the concepts of "pretending to be surprised" and "choosing story over min-maxing", and it's not an issue.


It requires a level of trust between GM and player, and for the players to be interested in playing out the twist. It also puts some risk of having a character you aren't interested in seeing face that situation, which is a pity as part of the fun of roleplaying is working out how a character reacts to situations. It's possible the best compromise would be to get all the players to come up with character concepts in a few minutes which they want to flesh out and play for a highschool life game, then reveal after they decided that you want to play the hunger games with those characters. This would allow some discussion as to whether the characters thought up were interesting enough for that scenario and whether they were interested in pursuing the game, while maintaining the idea of ordinary kids thrown into the situation.

Again, I mostly agree; letting players know about the twist after coming up with character personalities but before finalizing their mechanics can be a great way to limit the meta-gaming while also determining how good an idea the twist is. The problem is that, while that works for helping players flesh out less-developed characters, or can add interesting twists to a world that didn't have them, some people are looking for a simpler game, where the "twists" are a bit closer to home than "oh BTW this world that's mostly like the real world and is set in an American College also has a secret magic society you're not a part of, have fun!" Twists are fine, monkey wrenches thrown into our character's plans are fine, but the twist has to be in proportion to the PCs ability to handle it.

In your example of "high school students trapped on an island", the most realistic and IC reponse for the average high-school kid isn't "become the ultimate survival badass", it's "starve to death trying to light a fire to cook the game you haven't caught yet". I took the wilderness survival course in high school, and I watched Survivor Man religiously growing up; both the class and the show were pretty thorough, and gave me a decent education on the subject, but I'll bet you a million bucks I don't use any of that knowledge in the next decade, because I graduated high school in 2013, I live in the suburbs just off a major metropolitan area, and I'm an internet dweller who rarely sets a foot outside unless I have to drive somewhere. That class wasn't even a strong suggestion, much less a requirement, and that show wasn't exactly appealing to high-school kids.

And nobody wants to play that game, because a game where your characters just starve to death because it's OoC for them to know what to do well enough to actually accomplish it is slim to none is not fun. you have to fit the twist to the game your players are interested in playing, or your players A) have no fun, or B) leave.


With your example of having a jealous character, I don't see how that's an issue. In fact, it creates an interesting dynamic. Did the protagonist have any traits the character was jealous of before? If so, and he's the so-cool character she loves out of rivalry and jealous admiration, that can build up the potential, "I'll never be a match for him..." character arc, where she loses confidence. If she liked him because there was nothing to be jealous of, then this creates conflict in her affection. The fact that she wants to have magic but can't could be it's own arc of itself, for comedy or drama or the like.

Allow me to summarize their IC response to the reveal:

"I promised my twin brother, who was on his deathbed dying from cancer, that I would go out and be the best I could be. I don't mind people being better than me at something, as long as it's something I could learn to do given the inclination...but you've got magic. And from what you're telling me, I can study it my whole life and never get any better at it than I am now? I'm just stuck; you're magic, and I'm not?"

The teeth-grinding "**** you" was not explicit, but the tone made it clear. That's a problem when the source of tension is the mechanically-required love interest; literally the entire concept of the game centers around getting the Protagonist to fall in love with you because you're so in love with them, and this is the kind of thing that makes them incompatible for that kind of character. As it stands, that player now has to either deal with a huge personality clash and ideological shift to a more OoC stance just to keep up with the rest of us in the competition part of the game...or drop the game because their character wouldn't hang out with the protagonist after this, realistically speaking.


3) Does your game world lack normal people without special powers? Does everyone know special powers exist? If not, then your characters are more suited for the game than if you made them a team of espers. The fact aliens and magic exist doesn't really impact your characters' love life too strongly, even the object of affection having magic doesn't seem like it will. And in general, a game where you face tough moments and have to work out how to react is the very engagement of RPGs.

That's not the problem I was talking about. Let me put it this way: I don't watch horror movies for the romantic sub-plot, because I know it's just to get me to feel for two-dimensional characters before they get eaten/torn apart/whatever by the villain. I also don't watch rom-coms for the action scenes, I watch them for the romance and the comedy. Similarly, I play D&D for the chance to be the big hero/dastardly villain who takes part in larger-than-life battles; I don't play it to RP the down-time, where our party is sharing a house like some ****ed-up magic-powered reality show (while such a game could be interesting, it's not what I play D&D for). In the system we're playing in, everything is focused around getting the Protagonist to fall in love with you, but the game's story seems insistent on shoehorning this magical intrigue plot into our college romance story.

We were presented a game where we play the NPCs in a Dating Sim, and then we got thrust into a game that's also "the magic princess is getting kidnapped by Evil Co.TM". Unlike most characters, we attempted to and actually managed to nip that kidnapping attempt in the bud, but we would've been kinda screwed if we hadn't stopped the guy from taking her, because we're playing high school students, and magical mobsters are beyond our ability to handle long-term...which we might have to, if the bus getting knocked off the cliff and us ending up in a hospital where a magical hit-man was waiting to kidnap her from her bed turned out to be more of a long-term plan than an off-the-cuff winging-it kind of plan. I personally have no problem playing a Magic Dating Sim, but the Protagonist isn't an expy of that anime characters, she's literally that anime character; we are in her world with her, and she is a combat mage who has torn apart battleships with her mind...and we're college students. I'm really hoping the magic part doesn't take over the game, since it's supposed to be a dating sim, but the players have been bent over and assured that we're only getting "the tip" of the magic stuff...and that's more than a bit worrisome, especially when "the tip" on its own nearly made somebody leave when it came in unexpectedly.


As for your point of casters ruling the world... that sounds like the perfect game for someone sick of high-level casters dominating the party. The object of your annoyance becomes your antagonist, and the party has to figure out a way to overcome the seemingly invincible, unfairly powerful villain. It's classic shonen. Since the annoying spellcasters aren't in your party, you get to have a bond between the party members in your desire to defeat the mages and being unlike them, and the game can flesh out the idea of unfair and overpowered classes in games, how the world would play out if DnD mages existed, how to defeat DnD Mages, and arrogance in power leading to defeat by those with a will to resist and not give up.

I'd totally agree with you if we weren't talking about 3.5; at the level of play we're talking about, the ruling-the-world mages aren't just "unbeatable", they are objectively, mechanically, literally impossible to beat without the DM essentially handing you the victory. If you're the kind of person who's tired of mages being so all-powerful, even if you stay in the game and end up winning, you'll always know it's because the DM was holding back; a 20th level wizard who just uses blasts can be beaten without magic; a 20th level wizard sending an army of Simulacrums at you from his literally impregnable demiplane is literally unbeatable by a party without magic. The non-casters beating the casters in 3.5 is always going to be a pity-victory, and nobody likes a pity-victory.


Mostly, the arguments used against twists could be used against many forms of engagement in RPGs. Just about anything in a game can have the question posed, "but what if the players don't like it?" to the point where the only solution is to only play games where the players decide (which exist), where in turn players will have to ask themselves, "what if the other players don't like this?" and so the game won't be able to generate content except by committee and vote.

I'm perfectly fine with in-game twists that put the characters in weird situations RP-wise, but messing with the general assumptions of the game is less acceptable; the former is like telling me the seats in my car are real leather when they're actually a very good fake, or finding out that the car is very rare and could be worth a lot of money...but comes with mob interest or something; the latter (screwing with the basic assumptions of the game) is more like lying about how old the car is (when it's close to dying), or by filling the leaky radiator with water before letting somebody drive it off the lot. At least IRL, there's laws in place to keep dealerships from jerking you around to that degree, but DMs have nobody to stand over them and say "yeah, that's more of a **** move than a twist"...with one exception: their players.

And players vote with their feet: if a DM surprises me with a game that isn't what they told me it was, especially if it's exactly the kind of game I would've avoided like the plague if I'd known it was gonna be that kind of game, I'm leaving. As it stands, I'm cool with the direction this game seems to be going in, but there's potentially worrisome detours it could take that are less "wacky IC shenanigans" and more "bend over, it's only the tip anyway". You seem like you're trying to argue the general case; I'm arguing the specific case of our game, which is what this thread is supposed to be about. As it is, I only responded at all because you seemed to be explicitly calling us entitled for wanting to play the game we were told we were going to get.


In short, people like to think up all sorts of reasons to not have fun, when they should be thinking of reasons to have fun (Pollyanna would be good reading).

Because heaven forbid somebody have a different idea of fun than you.

The game we signed up for came dangerously close to not being at all like the game we were told we'd play, and a couple players have nearly dropped the game because of that. There's games where the twist being "what kind of game we're playing" is appropriate, but it requires having the players be okay with that kind of twist, even if they don't know the twist is coming. In this situation, none of us knew this twist was coming, and two of us explicitly did not want to play a game like that with these characters, because they were made for a non-magic game focused on school and romance rather than magical politics and intrigue. If you have a reason why you think we should just shut up and accept our Dating Sim becoming Legend of Zelda when we signed up and built characters for a Dating Sim, please let us know.

AvatarVecna
2015-10-31, 11:46 PM
Maybe this was the whole point of keeping it secret?

The problem is the scale: we built college freshmen, and our love interest is a combat mage who's torn apart battleships with her mind. What the **** are we supposed to do if that part of the anime gets dragged into the game? And if the magic stuff never comes up other than "oh yeah she's still magic, but nothing magical ever happens", then there's no point to her being magic except to shoehorn magic into the setting. By D&D standards, we're not her party members, or even her cohorts, we're the background NPCs, and that's not the game we signed up for.

Callos_DeTerran
2015-11-01, 12:28 AM
The problem is the scale: we built college freshmen, and our love interest is a combat mage who's torn apart battleships with her mind. What the **** are we supposed to do if that part of the anime gets dragged into the game? And if the magic stuff never comes up other than "oh yeah she's still magic, but nothing magical ever happens", then there's no point to her being magic except to shoehorn magic into the setting. By D&D standards, we're not her party members, or even her cohorts, we're the background NPCs, and that's not the game we signed up for.

Okay...but that stuff is mostly irrelevant to your characters and the game that you are playing. What is relevant is how how being a combat mage affects your love interest's personality and how it shapes her decisions. How it influences how your characters react to her and feel about her. So yeah, it can be an incredibly vital part of her identity and thus the game without your group ever getting involved in combat. And, if it does come up and she's there, its not about the fight but how it changes dynamics.

Hawkstar
2015-11-01, 01:06 AM
The problem is the scale: we built college freshmen, and our love interest is a combat mage who's torn apart battleships with her mind. What the **** are we supposed to do if that part of the anime gets dragged into the game?Try to figure out how you can use the situation to get into your love interest's "good graces", of course, and leave the heavy lifting on THAT part of the story to her, while you provide comic relief on the homefront. (The system is called Harem Comedy, right?).


And if the magic stuff never comes up other than "oh yeah she's still magic, but nothing magical ever happens", then there's no point to her being magic except to shoehorn magic into the setting.Let her do her Power Ranger thing, while providing College Freshman hijinks when she's away to spring on her when she gets back when once again the world is saved.


By D&D standards, we're not her party members, or even her cohorts, we're the background NPCs, and that's not the game we signed up for.No, you're her love interests. The story should still be on your characters and their college life and desire for the love interest despite all the arcane nonsense going on - Those exams aren't gonna pass themselves!

As for the Jealous character... the Power of Love (Or at least all-consuming lust) should temper his/her normally jealous personality.

Satinavian
2015-11-01, 02:17 AM
Okay...but that stuff is mostly irrelevant to your characters and the game that you are playing. What is relevant is how how being a combat mage affects your love interest's personality and how it shapes her decisions. How it influences how your characters react to her and feel about her. So yeah, it can be an incredibly vital part of her identity and thus the game without your group ever getting involved in combat. And, if it does come up and she's there, its not about the fight but how it changes dynamics.
You think, it might be irrelevant for a plot about college romance, if the love interest turns out to have not only a rare, characterdefining ability but also chooses to use it in a line of work involving constant fighting and killing ? How many houndreds ot thousands has she already killed, if sinking battleships is the typical scale ? (Also, how can it be the other characters didn't know ? And what kind of war is going on ?)

Yes, i could see, how that could turn off quite a lot of average college kids to the point where romantic comedy doesn't work anymore.

Mr. Mask
2015-11-01, 02:32 AM
Vecna: Well, you might have a bit of the wrong expectation. Just because the protagonist can go full on Dragon Ball doesn't mean your characters have to be able to. If the plot becomes watching the protagonist do stuff (or not do stuff for twenty episodes), then that'd be a problem separate from the twist. But if the game's focus is about the characters coming to terms with their new situation, conflicted between their fear of things beyond them and their affection towards the protagonist, that could be an interesting angle to explore.

Now, it's possible the GM has gotten the wrong balance, or is not pursuing a good angle to explore. That wouldn't be so much the problem of him having a twist, as not being able to handle the results of that twist (not implying anything towards you, JNA, just discussing the situation for the sake of the argument).


"I mostly agree with you, in that surprising the players is key to surprising the characters, and that can make for great story. Where I disagree with you is on the limits of RPing something: even with as much time as I spend crafting my character's personality, beliefs, backstory, and general outlook on life, I can still come across situations where something happens and I have no idea how my character would respond...simply because who they are isn't nearly as ingrained into my mind as who I am; I know how I'd react to magic happening (either full denial or "magic is real" boner), but that's partially because I'm a D&D addict; my character in the game is a politically-minded high-society miss with a heart of gold, who's dedicated to advancing her family's political beliefs and standing in the eyes of the country to improve it. How would she react? I'm not entirely sure, and now I'm kind of in a time-crunch to figure it out. If this was an IRL game, I wouldn't have had the time I've had already, I would've just had to RP it, and that can be problematic when you're playing somebody so different from yourself on the personal level."

Well, if you're really baffled, it probably means your character would be too. Probably not taking things in, focusing on smaller details (is the protagonist hurt? If so, she probably focuses on helping the protagonist while being a little blank from all the magic stuff). Though generally, how your character reacts to unexpected things beyond their control shouldn't be too hard to roleplay. Moments like that happen all the time in the real world and in fiction, so what what a character does when they're powerless or faced with terrible consequences or facing something they didn't expect or understand can plausibly happen.

"And what if you have a character in mind, and you're really set on playing that character...and that character doesn't fit into the story at all whatsoever, like...let's use the Apostle of Peace as an example. If the DM's campaign idea is that the political tensions between two countries has become too great to pacify, and the PCs must choose a side in the war, and one player wants to play an Apostle of Peace, what should the DM do: shoehorn a character into a story where the two can't coincide without a lot of work on everybody's part, or tell the player than can't play the character they want to play?"

? That sounds like a good conflict for that character type. War has broken out, no hope is in sight, it is kill or be killed! But the apostle of peace refuses to accept that. Will they die a tragic hero, peace being unattainable? Will their view of the world shatter under the horrors of war? Or will they succeed, and bring peace where there should've been war?

This is at the root of the problem... stories thrive on conflict, but RPG players are becoming averse to such. Guided tours with programmes telling you exactly what will happen are fine, of course.

"That may be true on some occasions, but withholding from your players the premise of the game on the off-chance they're ******* munchkin min-maxers is more than a bit rude unless you know them well enough to be sure about it...and if you know them, why are you gaming with them? If a player is causing a problem for the other players, whether the player or character is too aggressively dickish, is something a DM has to solve; if they player won't stop causing an issue despite...well, you don't owe them a game; they can go find somebody willing to tolerate their BS if they really want to, but you don't have to tolerate their acting like that. Play with people that can handle the concepts of "pretending to be surprised" and "choosing story over min-maxing", and it's not an issue."

Err, assuming anyone who does this is a worthless munchkin is pretty rude. Should I assume that of you, since you mentioned respecting your characters to be more powerful? Humans like to be prepared for the troubles they face, it's natural to want to be strong. And so, in many games, players will do what they can to make themselves as strong as possible. That's why stuff like randomly generating characters and stats are popular, as it forces you to work with the hand you're deal within the parameters of the adventure.

If I told you how the 6th Sense ends and told you to, "pretend to be surprised," would you enjoy it as much? I fear that people are becoming afraid of twists, jump scares, and being surprised, so they convince themselves the experience is just as good without such. If I knew how Braid ends before I got to the ending, I wouldn't have liked it nearly so much.

"Again, I mostly agree; letting players know about the twist after coming up with character personalities but before finalizing their mechanics can be a great way to limit the meta-gaming while also determining how good an idea the twist is. The problem is that, while that works for helping players flesh out less-developed characters, or can add interesting twists to a world that didn't have them, some people are looking for a simpler game, where the "twists" are a bit closer to home than "oh BTW this world that's mostly like the real world and is set in an American College also has a secret magic society you're not a part of, have fun!" Twists are fine, monkey wrenches thrown into our character's plans are fine, but the twist has to be in proportion to the PCs ability to handle it.

In your example of "high school students trapped on an island", the most realistic and IC reponse for the average high-school kid isn't "become the ultimate survival badass", it's "starve to death trying to light a fire to cook the game you haven't caught yet". I took the wilderness survival course in high school, and I watched Survivor Man religiously growing up; both the class and the show were pretty thorough, and gave me a decent education on the subject, but I'll bet you a million bucks I don't use any of that knowledge in the next decade, because I graduated high school in 2013, I live in the suburbs just off a major metropolitan area, and I'm an internet dweller who rarely sets a foot outside unless I have to drive somewhere. That class wasn't even a strong suggestion, much less a requirement, and that show wasn't exactly appealing to high-school kids.

And nobody wants to play that game, because a game where your characters just starve to death because it's OoC for them to know what to do well enough to actually accomplish it is slim to none is not fun. you have to fit the twist to the game your players are interested in playing, or your players A) have no fun, or B) leave."

There's nothing wrong with DnD theme-park rides. If you find out you've gotten on a roller-coaster with twists and turns, you can get off, or you can decide to stick with it and enjoy it anyway. This idea we can't make roller-coasters because the players mightn't like them is simply not the case.

What do you mean by, "the PCs are able to handle it"? In a Call of Cthulhu game, if there are aberrant horrors, attempting to survive and escape while finding out what's going on is often considered handling it.

You mightn't survive: That's the conflict.... What fund would a highschool survival island game be if you could just mow down every enemy that reared it's head? That'd be DnD power fantasy with different trappings. If you have to do your best to escape and survive, where just feeding yourself is an adventure, and you have to change from wimpy highschool kid to survivalist killer, that's an adventure, that is conflict. So far, many of the problems you outline is that the game features conflict.

As I mentioned before, it does depend on the ability of the GM managing the game. If he does it right, you'll manage to survive long enough to get a chance of survival, and the campaign will never feature challenges impossible to overcome.

Why do you refuse to even consider C) Decide to run with it and have fun? Because it's not what you expected, you refuse to enjoy it. That has become the norm lately, and I find it weird. If you pay someone for a hamburger, they are required to give you that--if you expected your friend to bring hamburgers, and instead he decided to get tacos as a surprise, being offended and refusing to enjoy them is rude. If you just like tacos, it can't be helped, it's a pity your friend didn't realize that. But refusing the idea of enjoying what life hands you... it is unhealthy in a world where you can't control what happens. And I'm not saying you're trying to be malignant, I'm genuinely worried by this behaviour many people are assuming is normal and justified, instead of realizing what they're doing and trying to analyse and fight the impulse. Instead of being critical of the GM, let's look at the player's choices:

A) They get mad, ruin the tacos for everyone by having an argument. B) They silently despise the tacos, and that they're forced to eat them. C) They say they unfortunately cannot eat tacos. The others feel bad for their mistake, but they can still enjoy the tacos. D) The player decides they don't mind tacos, so they're going to enjoy them, even though they wanted burgers.

"Allow me to summarize their IC response to the reveal:

"I promised my twin brother, who was on his deathbed dying from cancer, that I would go out and be the best I could be. I don't mind people being better than me at something, as long as it's something I could learn to do given the inclination...but you've got magic. And from what you're telling me, I can study it my whole life and never get any better at it than I am now? I'm just stuck; you're magic, and I'm not?"

The teeth-grinding "**** you" was not explicit, but the tone made it clear. That's a problem when the source of tension is the mechanically-required love interest; literally the entire concept of the game centers around getting the Protagonist to fall in love with you because you're so in love with them, and this is the kind of thing that makes them incompatible for that kind of character. As it stands, that player now has to either deal with a huge personality clash and ideological shift to a more OoC stance just to keep up with the rest of us in the competition part of the game...or drop the game because their character wouldn't hang out with the protagonist after this, realistically speaking."

That sounds like good drama.... They wanted to show their twin they can be the best they can be, and now they haven't just discovered someone better than them--they've discovered an earth-shattering difference between them and someone they admired. That's just a dramatic punctuation to a plot-line that could've come up at any point. Now, it might've been too early in the character's arc, and that is unfortunate, but why must we bequeath every slight and ignore every advantage? The character sounds like they're on the verge of dramatic gold. They're hating the one they love for who they are, for reasons beyond their intentions. It's a perfect dilemma. You can also tap into the tragedy of people never attaining the ability of the gods.

From what I've seen from those kind of stories, often the characters fight with their love interests on occasion, just like real romance. Typically, they come out of it stronger. And if the game isn't serious enough to deal with that, then it probably wasn't serious enough to deal with a character with such strong motivations that they will not bend. Really, this complication sounds like more fun than the game's mechanics. If the mechanics don't support doing something interesting, that is another separate problem.

"That's not the problem I was talking about. Let me put it this way: I don't watch horror movies for the romantic sub-plot, because I know it's just to get me to feel for two-dimensional characters before they get eaten/torn apart/whatever by the villain. I also don't watch rom-coms for the action scenes, I watch them for the romance and the comedy. Similarly, I play D&D for the chance to be the big hero/dastardly villain who takes part in larger-than-life battles; I don't play it to RP the down-time, where our party is sharing a house like some ****ed-up magic-powered reality show (while such a game could be interesting, it's not what I play D&D for). In the system we're playing in, everything is focused around getting the Protagonist to fall in love with you, but the game's story seems insistent on shoehorning this magical intrigue plot into our college romance story.

We were presented a game where we play the NPCs in a Dating Sim, and then we got thrust into a game that's also "the magic princess is getting kidnapped by Evil Co.TM". Unlike most characters, we attempted to and actually managed to nip that kidnapping attempt in the bud, but we would've been kinda screwed if we hadn't stopped the guy from taking her, because we're playing high school students, and magical mobsters are beyond our ability to handle long-term...which we might have to, if the bus getting knocked off the cliff and us ending up in a hospital where a magical hit-man was waiting to kidnap her from her bed turned out to be more of a long-term plan than an off-the-cuff winging-it kind of plan. I personally have no problem playing a Magic Dating Sim, but the Protagonist isn't an expy of that anime characters, she's literally that anime character; we are in her world with her, and she is a combat mage who has torn apart battleships with her mind...and we're college students. I'm really hoping the magic part doesn't take over the game, since it's supposed to be a dating sim, but the players have been bent over and assured that we're only getting "the tip" of the magic stuff...and that's more than a bit worrisome, especially when "the tip" on its own nearly made somebody leave when it came in unexpectedly."

Well, that would be a separate problem from the twist. As I mentioned before, if it's an hour of watching the GM fight with himself, that'd be its own issue ("Umm... are you OK?" "DIE SCUM! No, YOU DIE!"). If the game is still going fine, then your love interest killing demons doesn't mean you have to be killing demons.

What you describe sounds exciting and conflicted. "What can we do, we're just kids?" "That doesn't mean anything!" If you failed in the initial rescue, then the GM would have to justify your characters going to whatever lengths to save the princess. If it's a comedy game, that's normally not too hard.

Well, I hope their leaving was a C, and not an A.

"I'd totally agree with you if we weren't talking about 3.5; at the level of play we're talking about, the ruling-the-world mages aren't just "unbeatable", they are objectively, mechanically, literally impossible to beat without the DM essentially handing you the victory. If you're the kind of person who's tired of mages being so all-powerful, even if you stay in the game and end up winning, you'll always know it's because the DM was holding back; a 20th level wizard who just uses blasts can be beaten without magic; a 20th level wizard sending an army of Simulacrums at you from his literally impregnable demiplane is literally unbeatable by a party without magic. The non-casters beating the casters in 3.5 is always going to be a pity-victory, and nobody likes a pity-victory."

Well, get creative. Incite rebellion in the villages under the wizard's control, force him to use all his summoning spell and send out his minions to fight them. Work towards stealing a magic scroll the rogue can use to tip the odds in your favour. Smuggle in gun powder so as to collapse the whole tower. Or go on an epic quest, which culminates in a final, desperate battle with the level 20 arch mage, which is set up so that you can scrape through and defeat him, if you play your cards right. If the GM puts you in a 10x10 arena on a flat plane, then he didn't set it up well.

"I'm perfectly fine with in-game twists that put the characters in weird situations RP-wise, but messing with the general assumptions of the game is less acceptable; the former is like telling me the seats in my car are real leather when they're actually a very good fake, or finding out that the car is very rare and could be worth a lot of money...but comes with mob interest or something; the latter (screwing with the basic assumptions of the game) is more like lying about how old the car is (when it's close to dying), or by filling the leaky radiator with water before letting somebody drive it off the lot. At least IRL, there's laws in place to keep dealerships from jerking you around to that degree, but DMs have nobody to stand over them and say "yeah, that's more of a **** move than a twist"...with one exception: their players.

And players vote with their feet: if a DM surprises me with a game that isn't what they told me it was, especially if it's exactly the kind of game I would've avoided like the plague if I'd known it was gonna be that kind of game, I'm leaving. As it stands, I'm cool with the direction this game seems to be going in, but there's potentially worrisome detours it could take that are less "wacky IC shenanigans" and more "bend over, it's only the tip anyway". You seem like you're trying to argue the general case; I'm arguing the specific case of our game, which is what this thread is supposed to be about. As it is, I only responded at all because you seemed to be explicitly calling us entitled for wanting to play the game we were told we were going to get."

Umm, your examples with car dealership make it seem like you're taking this much too seriously. And that you consider the GM to owe you something as if you've paid him for a service. "Hey, let's go for a ride in my car with leather seats!" "Hahah, psyche! They're actually TIGER-FUR seats!" You could try to object to it on the grounds not that he tricked you, but that you're against tiger fur in cars, or you could say that unfortunately you are incapable of riding in cars that don't meet your leather quota, but comparing what at worst seems a dumb idea or prank with being ripped off by a car dealer is the reason people are saying it's a problem of entitlement.

I have only just read this part of your post, and I'm a little disturbed by your use of rape analogies.... It is making it hard for me to believe you aren't taking this much too seriously. That you consider people trying to entertain you doing a poor job being worthy of such graphic description is making this sound very entitled.

The general case makes the specific case. Either twists are valid ideas in games, or they aren't. It is possible that your specific case does not work out for separate reasons, like poor handling in certain details or conflicts of interest. But if it is really comparable to sexual abuse, you should have nothing to do with it.

"Because heaven forbid somebody have a different idea of fun than you.

The game we signed up for came dangerously close to not being at all like the game we were told we'd play, and a couple players have nearly dropped the game because of that. There's games where the twist being "what kind of game we're playing" is appropriate, but it requires having the players be okay with that kind of twist, even if they don't know the twist is coming. In this situation, none of us knew this twist was coming, and two of us explicitly did not want to play a game like that with these characters, because they were made for a non-magic game focused on school and romance rather than magical politics and intrigue. If you have a reason why you think we should just shut up and accept our Dating Sim becoming Legend of Zelda when we signed up and built characters for a Dating Sim, please let us know."

Well, if you totally refuse to try my kind of fun, at best it's unfortunate we cannot relate on that level, at worst you're being unsociable or implying what I think is fun is wrong.

I'm confused. Did someone drop the game, or did they almost drop the game?

Already outlined the possible responses for this situation, where you're brought tacos on burger night. If you really can't bear to eat tacos, that's too bad.

A) They get mad, ruin the tacos for everyone by having an argument. B) They silently despise the tacos, and that they're forced to eat them. C) They say they unfortunately cannot eat tacos. The others feel bad for their mistake, but they can still enjoy the tacos. D) The player decides they don't mind tacos, so they're going to enjoy them, even though they wanted burgers.

As you showed, there were tons of roleplaying opportunities and sources of conflict that could arise from these scenarios, which you could have a seriously great game with.



Satinavian: If they're prejudiced against soldiers, that would create some tension. If they stick around, that'd be a good source of conflict.

AvatarVecna
2015-11-01, 07:27 AM
Try to figure out how you can use the situation to get into your love interest's "good graces", of course, and leave the heavy lifting on THAT part of the story to her, while you provide comic relief on the homefront. (The system is called Harem Comedy, right?).

It depends on how often that kind of conflict comes up, and to what degree we have to participate. If "don't get hospitalized" is a skill challenge during every super-mage fight, that's going to get a bit old, especially since it's a scale of conflict that isn't even anywhere close to what we were given the impression we would be dealing with. School bullies, the high standards of academic life, violent campus intruders, sure! Super-mages fighting on DBZ levels? I'm so sure our ragtag group of slightly-above-average college freshmen will make wonderful participants casualties cheerleaders in that fight. The best option is that it happens off-screen, but that's disappointing in different ways (although decidedly less so than the option where cheering uselessly from the sideline is the best-case scenario). Maintaining both the suspension of disbelief as well as the player agency can be difficult when there's that much of a difference in scale.


Let her do her Power Ranger thing, while providing College Freshman hijinks when she's away to spring on her when she gets back when once again the world is saved.

Then we start running into the "why didn't you just use magic?" issue. The only reason it didn't come up in the literal life-or-death scenario that took place episode one is because she "didn't think of it"; it's not even like she was forbidden from using magic. Magic threatens the illusion of the game, and maintaining it despite a super-mage being a member of our clique is going to require a creative DM; I certainly believe JNA is capable of doing it, but it's not a 100% kinda feeling...


No, you're her love interests. The story should still be on your characters and their college life and desire for the love interest despite all the arcane nonsense going on - Those exams aren't gonna pass themselves!

It bears mentioning that, since she's a super-mage from an anime show, she has a canon love interest; that canon love interest is also a super-mage, they were actually romantically involved, and she has already made an appearance in our game. A temporary solution of "she's away doing something else right now" has been set up, but the story demands that it not last forever, even as the mechanics and the suspension of disbelief demand that it does; if super-mage B stakes a claim on super-mage A, Norm Al Hughman will not be winning that confrontation even on the off-chance that they push the issue.


As for the Jealous character... the Power of Love (Or at least all-consuming lust) should temper his/her normally jealous personality.

That would work out well enough if this twist had happened after the relationship had time to develop, but we all literally just met right before this bomb got dropped in our laps. And it wasn't "oh by the way new friends, I'm magic", it was "those guys who put us all in the hospital and tried to kidnap me are doing it because I'm magic"; that, combined with the jealousy issue, means that the only reason for the jealous character to continue pursuing the relationship is because the plot demands it.
You think, it might be irrelevant for a plot about college romance, if the love interest turns out to have not only a rare, characterdefining ability but also chooses to use it in a line of work involving constant fighting and killing ? How many houndreds ot thousands has she already killed, if sinking battleships is the typical scale ? (Also, how can it be the other characters didn't know ? And what kind of war is going on ?)

Yes, i could see, how that could turn off quite a lot of average college kids to the point where romantic comedy doesn't work anymore.

Don't forget that we're in direct competition for her heart when her canon love interest is another DBZ level super-mage! That's an important note. Anyway...

Being less than familiar with the original show, I can't say for sure what the kill-count is. I know at least part of it took place when she ~9 years old, and she's 18 now, and part of it takes place later in canon, but I don't know if the "shooting somebody through a battleship, destroying both" thing took place pre- or post- game in-canon. The impression I've gotten (if I've understood everything correctly) is that most non-magic people have a tendency to rationalize magic away, sometimes even if they witnessed it (although powerful or frequent magic lets them build up a resistance to that, maybe? And some people have a natural resistance?); so they know things have happened, they just thought it was more conventional. The other impression I've been given was less "sinking battleships" and more "falling battleships", although I'm unsure if this just refers to airborne fortresses or the space-faring kind of battleships; a quick google search of "Nanoha battleship" seems to indicate the existence of both aerial battleships and space stations, so...*shrugs*

It's at least a higher-tech world than our own, since our broken bones were healed in less than a week of downtime with no long-term side effects physically.
Vecna: Well, you might have a bit of the wrong expectation. Just because the protagonist can go full on Dragon Ball doesn't mean your characters have to be able to. If the plot becomes watching the protagonist do stuff (or not do stuff for twenty episodes), then that'd be a problem separate from the twist. But if the game's focus is about the characters coming to terms with their new situation, conflicted between their fear of things beyond them and their affection towards the protagonist, that could be an interesting angle to explore.

The problem isn't that they might go full DMZ (which they can, but probably won't), it's the suspension of disbelief involved. For me, a game needs to strike a good balance between "realistic for the setting" and "fun"; while it would be fun to explore the ramifications of our new friend we just met turning out to be magic and hunted by other magic people, that's no realistic because the realistic conclusion of "mages hunting mages" isn't "non-magic friends fight off enemy mages", it's "mage battle with normals in the bleachers", and that second one, while being far more realistic, isn't fun for the players. If the scale of the magic was lower (closer to Harry Potter school than DMZ), it would be workable exploring that low-scale kind of magic with our friend.


Now, it's possible the GM has gotten the wrong balance, or is not pursuing a good angle to explore. That wouldn't be so much the problem of him having a twist, as not being able to handle the results of that twist (not implying anything towards you, JNA, just discussing the situation for the sake of the argument).

Using a twist you aren't prepared to handle is an issue, though; bringing in a DMPC who turns out to be a super-mage from some anime the DM's a fan of is a huge red flag that there might be trouble ahead. This twist can be done well, but between the scale of the DMPC, the scale of the players, the DM's relative experience, and how early the twist was revealed, it has the potential to become a downward spiral if it's not handled carefully.

[QUOTE=Mr. Mask;20021004]Well, if you're really baffled, it probably means your character would be too. Probably not taking things in, focusing on smaller details (is the protagonist hurt? If so, she probably focuses on helping the protagonist while being a little blank from all the magic stuff). Though generally, how your character reacts to unexpected things beyond their control shouldn't be too hard to roleplay. Moments like that happen all the time in the real world and in fiction, so what what a character does when they're powerless or faced with terrible consequences or facing something they didn't expect or understand can plausibly happen.

Certainly at the original reveal, but later on? It's been quite some time since that happened, and I've argued myself into several corners trying to walk in my character's shoes on this issue. I've found two potential IC responses to this mess: firstly treating her like royalty (since she's so important in the grand scheme of things), but that almost seems like a haphazard slapped-together excuse, at least to me; secondly (and the far more realistic response for the character) is to distance herself from the super-mage and the people hunting her, out of fear of becoming collateral damage. But I can't do that, because the game is focused around her, and I as a player still want to play that game even though my character would be halfway to Albequrque.

[QUOTE=Mr. Mask;20021004]? That sounds like a good conflict for that character type. War has broken out, no hope is in sight, it is kill or be killed! But the apostle of peace refuses to accept that. Will they die a tragic hero, peace being unattainable? Will their view of the world shatter under the horrors of war? Or will they succeed, and bring peace where there should've been war?

Or will they just be completely insufferable pricks about it the whole time, rather than being interesting or fun to play with? This too is a distinct possibility, and a game where fun for most is being ruined by one is a failed game IMO. Suppose that, instead, it's a political intrigue game, and one player insists on playing a Frenzied Berserker and murdering everybody. The conflict from there is...the political intrigue can't continue, because everybody is dead, and now you've sent the world into war? That's all fine and dandy for that player and their character, but that character's actions have now made that game much less interesting for the other players; they signed up for political intrigue and social manipulation, and instead got a war game where every country is out to get them. All characters are being played realistically, but only one player is having fun; as far as I'm concerned, that's a failed game.


This is at the root of the problem... stories thrive on conflict, but RPG players are becoming averse to such. Guided tours with programmes telling you exactly what will happen are fine, of course.

Some are. Some aren't, as you and others are demonstrating wonderfully.


Err, assuming anyone who does this is a worthless munchkin is pretty rude.

That's what I was saying, in response to your talking about people min-maxing their character's backstories to fit the situation.


Should I assume that of you, since you mentioned respecting your characters to be more powerful?

I sincerely doubt anything I say will stop you from making assumptions, but I guess I should keep trying anyway. And it's still a matter of scale: in this system, every character could have every existing advantage, and we'd still be high school kids living in the shadow of a super-mage. And the problem could be solved by extending the length of the episodes, so even at our most powerful it's not really the min-maxing you're calling it.


Humans like to be prepared for the troubles they face, it's natural to want to be strong. And so, in many games, players will do what they can to make themselves as strong as possible.

Funnily enough, I joined this game because min-maxing wasn't a requirement to be relevant, and it was focused on RPing the character I made, which I've gotten to do almost constantly. I wanted a game where I didn't have to be powerful to be relevant and have fun playing my character; I'm still hoping I get to play that game, but the inclusion of the super-mage has made me nervous, and I'm not the only one.


That's why stuff like randomly generating characters and stats are popular, as it forces you to work with the hand you're deal within the parameters of the adventure.

I love randomly generated stats, as long as they're something you can work with; my characters don't have to be hyper-competent, but I want them to be vaguely competent. Playing a Barbarian with Str 3/Con 3 is pointless, because he's never going to hit anybody except by accident...and even then not if he gets killed first. Sure, that's an extreme example (I've played a Barbarian with Con 5 that was justified IC, for example), but it bears mentioning: people play D&D and the like for the challenges, yes, but they also play for the escapism. Incompetence is a downfall often enough IRL; why should I have to deal with it in my entertainment? I'm not demanding hyper-competence, just the ability to meaningfully contribute on a reasonable basis. Guaranteed success is almost as bad as guaranteed failure, and neither is anywhere close to good.


If I told you how the 6th Sense ends and told you to, "pretend to be surprised," would you enjoy it as much?

Okay, so I can see the point you're trying to make, but this is a horrible example: I've been around the internet for a long time now, and I learned the twist ending by accident (from some ******* who didn't spoiler it) years before I saw the movie. I avoided seeing the movie well into my late teens because I thought knowing the twist would ruin the experience for me. And you know what? It didn't. That movie was really great, even knowing the twist.

...and that's actually one of the reasons the movie is good in the meta-sense: knowing the twist ahead of time doesn't make watching it worse; if anything, that's what a movie should aspire to be like. There's movies I've watched without knowing the twist, and I've gone "man that was awesome", but then I watch them years later and think "it's boring now that I know what's coming". But is that how it should be? That a movie with a twist isn't rewatchable? That seems like bad design; IMO, media that includes a twist should be something you can enjoy whether you know the twist or not; in the case of knowing it, it should be enjoyable because you know the twist, because you can appreciate how subtly the foreshadowing is being laced.


I fear that people are becoming afraid of twists, jump scares, and being surprised, so they convince themselves the experience is just as good without such. If I knew how Braid ends before I got to the ending, I wouldn't have liked it nearly so much.

A movie with a good twist is rewatchable because you can appreciate the set-up; a movie with a bad twist isn't very fun to watch a second time, because the mystery of the twist was all it had going for it.


There's nothing wrong with DnD theme-park rides. If you find out you've gotten on a roller-coaster with twists and turns, you can get off, or you can decide to stick with it and enjoy it anyway. This idea we can't make roller-coasters because the players mightn't like them is simply not the case.

Rollercoasters they may be, and rollercoasters can definitely be fun, but we weren't in line for a rollercoaster, we were in line for the Tunnel of Love. If we'd wanted to experience a rollercoaster, we would've gotten in that line (there's plenty of games like that around here) and not in the line for the Tunnel of Love. And while the analogy is a little weird the way you put it (getting off a rollercoaster mid-ride can be kind of dangerous), you're right, we can leave...but the mistake made isn't enough to leave, it's just enough to make the remaining ToL Rollercoaster rather awkward and un-fun, and this thread is supposed to be searching for ways to make it less so.


What do you mean by, "the PCs are able to handle it"? In a Call of Cthulhu game, if there are aberrant horrors, attempting to survive and escape while finding out what's going on is often considered handling it.

And if we were interested in playing CoC, we would. If we were interesting in magical politics, we would've played a D&D game, or a M&M game, or a Shadowrun game, or even a HSHC game using the optional supernatural rules, and everybody would've been fine with this twist coming out so early. Playing CoC and aberrant horrors never showing up makes for a bad game (because instant-win on that "survival goal"), but instant-win is nearly as bad as instant-lose ("aberrant horrors appear, and you're all dead; no, no rolls, you're just all dead"). The character, who has a pre-existing canon, is a super-mage in a relationship with another super-mage, and the goal of the game is to make her fall in love with us. It's conflict, but the conflict we signed up for was "competing for Senpai's love with the other PCs", not "competing for Senpai's love with a badass super-mage". There's potential conflict there, sure, but any solution that isn't "super-mage wins" damages the illusion. We've found a temporary solution, but Fate's involvement in Nanoha's romantic life can't be ignored forever; that conflict will take place sooner or later, and the only realistic ending that's true to all characters seems to be "game over, you failed", and that's frustrating.


You mightn't survive: That's the conflict.... What fund would a highschool survival island game be if you could just mow down every enemy that reared it's head? That'd be DnD power fantasy with different trappings. If you have to do your best to escape and survive, where just feeding yourself is an adventure, and you have to change from wimpy highschool kid to survivalist killer, that's an adventure, that is conflict.

You're saying "mightn't", I'm saying "won't"; guaranteed failure is the only realistic outcome for that game, and it's also the least fun outcome. A game needs the right balance between "realistic" and "fun", and the possible conflicts for "some high schoolers are on a deserted island" are either one or the other without an extremely creative DM. Setting up twist-based conflicts that can't be both realistic and fun is a trap DMs can fall into, and this seems to be that kind of twist. Twists can work in general, don't get me wrong, but this one was either a poor choice of twists or poor timing or both, but the rest of the game is enjoyable enough that the whole thing averages out to being just okay...and for my first time in this RP-focused system, I have to say I was hoping for more than "okay"; the game shows signs of improving slowly ATM, but it's a very worrisome start. Conflict, in a good game, should have varying outcomes depending on the player's choices and the character's capabilities, but in the "high school students trapped on an island" example, the outcome is already set to "die starving" unless the characters suddenly possess survival knowledge they didn't have before.


So far, many of the problems you outline is that the game features conflict.

I've got no problem with conflict. But different systems (or even different games in the same system) can offer different types of conflict; what kind of conflict you get is dependent on the system (or game) that you're running, and so you sign up for games based on the kind of conflict you're looking for (similar to getting in line for a particular kind of ride, or going to see a particular kind of movie). We signed up for a game featuring conflicts like college bullies, safety on campus, romancing NPCs, and keeping our grades up despite all of the other conflicts going on...and introducing magic either changes the game and conflicts to something where we're useless, or it doesn't change the game and introducing magic was pointless (since there's other things that could've been done to make this kind of tension that don't raise the game's scale to "super-mage" levels. No matter where the game goes from here, the fact will always remain that we only had a chance with Nanoha because Fate never staked her pre-existing claim, and we can't literally can't fight Fate and win, whether in combat or romance.


As I mentioned before, it does depend on the ability of the GM managing the game. If he does it right, you'll manage to survive long enough to get a chance of survival, and the campaign will never feature challenges impossible to overcome.

Sure, the DM can fiat into existence ways for the challenge to be overcome, but it's a hand-out, a pity-win, no matter the final outcome. You only had a chance of surviving the game because the DM changed the rules of the game so that you had a chance; this is opposed to the DM setting up challenges that your characters already had a chance of winning, so that their victory over the conflict existed because of their character's capabilities and good decisions, rather than the world changing around them to suit the DM's "no immediate failure" plot armor.


Why do you refuse to even consider C) Decide to run with it and have fun? Because it's not what you expected, you refuse to enjoy it.

You're conveniently ignoring some possibilities: namely, what if the game I got wasn't just unexpected, but hated? I am ****ing sick and tired of having to play mages in D&D, but anything less powerful/capable/versatile gets bowled over due to incompetence. I signed up for a nice, simple game of college-level anime style rom-com, with all the wacky shenanigans and cliffhanger conflicts you would expect from that kind of game, and some DBZ-level magic got haphazardly thrown into the mix; not only does it not ****ing belong there, but that level of bull**** magic is what I was specifically trying to avoid, and now my options are "nut up and deal with it" (the option you're presenting), or "play a game that's mostly good, but includes elements I'm sick and ****ing tired of seeing".

And that's just my problem with it; what if the game we were trying to avoid was because we've got psychological triggers that some games set off, and the DM makes it that kind of game? I've got a friend who loves D&D and game like it, but she absolutely positively can't handle any kind of PvP competition game, or any kind of horror movie, because PTSD from growing up with abusive parents has made it so that her adrenaline system is on a hair trigger, and the betrayal inherent to the more competitive board games is tense enough and emotionally charged enough that it sets her right off and all but leaves her crying in the fetal position; needless to say, horror movies are far more than enough to do just that. Should I just tell her to suck it up and try to enjoy the game/movie anyway? Of course not, I'm not a sadistic psychopath. In the grand scheme of things, in terms of "problems with a particular kind of game", being tired of watching from the sidelines while mages be super-cool is a pretty minor concern, but that doesn't make it a less valid reason to play the game.


That has become the norm lately, and I find it weird. If you pay someone for a hamburger, they are required to give you that--if you expected your friend to bring hamburgers, and instead he decided to get tacos as a surprise, being offended and refusing to enjoy them is rude. If you just like tacos, it can't be helped, it's a pity your friend didn't realize that. But refusing the idea of enjoying what life hands you... it is unhealthy in a world where you can't control what happens.

Just pointing out that you don't have to eat the tacos your friend brought; it's unlikely that his feelings are going to be hurt by your refusal (unless they were the last act of his died-by-cancer grandmother or something, but that's probably not common enough to be worth noting).


And I'm not saying you're trying to be malignant, I'm genuinely worried by this behaviour many people are assuming is normal and justified, instead of realizing what they're doing and trying to analyse and fight the impulse. Instead of being critical of the GM, let's look at the player's choices:

A) They get mad, ruin the tacos for everyone by having an argument. B) They silently despise the tacos, and that they're forced to eat them. C) They say they unfortunately cannot eat tacos. The others feel bad for their mistake, but they can still enjoy the tacos. D) The player decides they don't mind tacos, so they're going to enjoy them, even though they wanted burgers.

Ignoring the fact that a better metaphor is "your friend brought back nothing but tacos after asking what people wanted and saying he'd get some burgers as well as some tacos", there's always the option of "going out and getting yourself a burger".

In gaming, there's almost a gentlemen's agreement between players and (if one is present) the DM: "everybody came here to have fun, so let's play a game we can all have fun playing". In the case of DM and players, it's also "the DM controls most things and writes the story, but if the story is too bad, or it's not at all the kind of story the players were wanting to play and were told they would get, the players can vote with their feet and leave". This twist has, by no means, completely ruined the game for me (or for the others, since they haven't quit either), but it's come close and it's can travel in that direction; being this close to the kind of game I hate and knowing how easily it can become that game is making me incredibly wary, and being told to "nut up and deal with it" seems an ignorant generalization that doesn't at all address the specific issue.


That sounds like good drama.... They wanted to show their twin they can be the best they can be, and now they haven't just discovered someone better than them--they've discovered an earth-shattering difference between them and someone they admired. That's just a dramatic punctuation to a plot-line that could've come up at any point. Now, it might've been too early in the character's arc, and that is unfortunate, but why must we bequeath every slight and ignore every advantage? The character sounds like they're on the verge of dramatic gold. They're hating the one they love for who they are, for reasons beyond their intentions. It's a perfect dilemma. You can also tap into the tragedy of people never attaining the ability of the gods.

This is a big part of the issue: the timing. It makes a good story, makes good drama, to find out the person you've fallen in love with is capable of something so vast, and you can't stand that. That would be a wonderful thing to find out later in the story arc; it doesn't even have to be near the end, it could be in that second-act, disagreement-phase of every rom-com. The problem is, this wasn't like a month into the friendship/wannabe romance; it wasn't even a week, even a day: this reveal took place after a couple of hours, and the PC/DMPC have exchanged only a handful of lines; and most of the time spent together wasn't spent interacting. They literally just met this person, and it turns out that a part of Nanoha's character is literally antithetical to their character's motivations.

Sure, they could just deal with it, but that involves squeezing what is (realistically) months of character/relationship development into a few hours, and that breaks the illusion of the game. It is (AFAICT) completely out-of-character for this PC to continue interacting with this DMPC on a regular basis; what few in-character bonds that existed already pale in comparison to the spider's web of bonds tied up in the promise made to her cancerous twin. The only reason to stay is because the plot demands it, and that's a terrible IC reason to do anything unless your character is also an actor in a terrible in-game play with bad writing.


From what I've seen from those kind of stories, often the characters fight with their love interests on occasion, just like real romance. Typically, they come out of it stronger. And if the game isn't serious enough to deal with that, then it probably wasn't serious enough to deal with a character with such strong motivations that they will not bend. Really, this complication sounds like more fun than the game's mechanics. If the mechanics don't support doing something interesting, that is another separate problem.

As said above, this particular problem with the twist wouldn't even be a problem if the twist had come later in the relationship.


Well, that would be a separate problem from the twist. As I mentioned before, if it's an hour of watching the GM fight with himself, that'd be its own issue ("Umm... are you OK?" "DIE SCUM! No, YOU DIE!"). If the game is still going fine, then your love interest killing demons doesn't mean you have to be killing demons.

Separate issue? It wouldn't be an issue if the twist hadn't happened. That doesn't make it a separate problem, it makes it a side-effect...and one that's potentially deadly for the game; if the DM decides to start playing with himself (unlikely to happen I hope), he'll have to be ready for some players not wanting to patiently wait for him to finish, especially if it ends up happening a lot.


What you describe sounds exciting and conflicted. "What can we do, we're just kids?" "That doesn't mean anything!" If you failed in the initial rescue, then the GM would have to justify your characters going to whatever lengths to save the princess. If it's a comedy game, that's normally not too hard.

Again, it's a matter of scale. If our friend Larry Plotter turned out to be a teenage wizard (and for some reason that was a complete surprise to everybody despite being as obvious as the cloud-shaped scar on his cheek), we could handle it, because magic on that scale is something we might be able to contribute to if magical conflicts come up; half of what made Hermione useful as a friend was that she was an frighteningly intelligent and competent researcher, and that's a non-magic skill. It doesn't matter how good our characters are at researching mythology, our ability to contribute to a DBZ-level magic fight amounts to "call the National Guard and hope for the best". This twist has the potential to render the players completely in-valid on a scale that the game doesn't support, to the point that our involvement in Nanoha's life is, all on its own, stretching our suspension of disbelief; one of the super-mages of the setting is friends with us? That's not very realistic...


Well, get creative. Incite rebellion in the villages under the wizard's control, force him to use all his summoning spell and send out his minions to fight them.

If it works, that's a pity-win, because the mages will have everybody permanently dominated.


Work towards stealing a magic scroll the rogue can use to tip the odds in your favour.

If it works, that's a pity-win, because the mages will have their scrolls unstealable by putting all their scrolls in a vault that only the mage in question can learn the location of, get to, and open.


Smuggle in gun powder so as to collapse the whole tower.

If it works, that's a pity-win, because the mages won't be living anywhere non-mages can get access to; they'll have a castle in the clouds, or in an impregnable demiplane, or literally outside of space-time.


Or go on an epic quest, which culminates in a final, desperate battle with the level 20 arch mage, which is set up so that you can scrape through and defeat him, if you play your cards right. If the GM puts you in a 10x10 arena on a flat plane, then he didn't set it up well.

It's a pity-win no matter how you slice it; if the players don't have magic at 20th level, they can't beat the 20th level wizard unless the wizard is literally not trying. The DM has to go out of his way to play the mages as stupid and incompetent compared to what their character sheets say they're capable of. In 3.5, Wizard 20 wins against non-casters unless he's totally sand-bagging for some reason.


Umm, your examples with car dealership make it seem like you're taking this much too seriously. And that you consider the GM to owe you something as if you've paid him for a service. "Hey, let's go for a ride in my car with leather seats!" "Hahah, psyche! They're actually TIGER-FUR seats!" You could try to object to it on the grounds not that he tricked you, but that you're against tiger fur in cars, or you could say that unfortunately you are incapable of riding in cars that don't meet your leather quota, but comparing what at worst seems a dumb idea or prank with being ripped off by a car dealer is the reason people are saying it's a problem of entitlement.

The only person I saw mention entitlement was you, and you seemed to be talking about the community in general when you said it...or at least the large portion of it that seems to be that way to you.

And you're right, the DM doesn't owe us any particular game, but we also don't owe him our attention as players; if we don't like his game enough, we can leave, and will. Your example is attempting to turn the deception into a minor issue, when it's potentially more problematic, and yet you're ignoring that potential as if it doesn't exist ever, as if there can never be a bad twist, as if there can never be a bad way to trick your players. It's not even like this is a terrible twist, but it has the potential to go right off the deep end, and that potential is worrisome...except to you, since it's apparently not ever a problem at all.


I have only just read this part of your post, and I'm a little disturbed by your use of rape analogies.... It is making it hard for me to believe you aren't taking this much too seriously. That you consider people trying to entertain you doing a poor job being worthy of such graphic description is making this sound very entitled.

I will admit to more than a little frustration at this point, since you seemed to be arguing that nobody should ever have a problem with not getting to have a say in the content of their entertainment. Those analogies seemed like a good idea at the time, but less so now.


The general case makes the specific case. Either twists are valid ideas in games, or they aren't. It is possible that your specific case does not work out for separate reasons, like poor handling in certain details or conflicts of interest.

Twists can be valid ideas in games, but you have to be careful with the execution, because striking the right balance between "unexpected" and "realistic" and "fun to react to" can be difficult; you have to think it through, you have to put in some effort. If I thought this twist was done just because the DM thought it would be cool to include an anime super-mage, and didn't at all consider the possible ramifications due to not giving a ****, I'd already have left the game; as it stands, I think it was a mistake, and not one that can easily be fixed without just taking a Mulligan on the whole thing.


But if it is really comparable to sexual abuse, you should have nothing to do with it.

It's not in this case, but as mentioned previously, there's cases where it could be comparable, and your general argument seemed to be ignoring those cases as if they don't exist. If you want to argue general to prove specific, that's fine, but be prepared for your blanket statements to not cover all situations.


Well, if you totally refuse to try my kind of fun, at best it's unfortunate we cannot relate on that level, at worst you're being unsociable or implying what I think is fun is wrong.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: twists can be absolutely positively the most fun things about the game...if they're done correctly. My problem is that the solution you're presenting (that, if I'm understanding you correctly on your "general proves specific" theory, is your general solution for finding a game that's just barely the kind of game you were told it would be) is to nut up and deal with it. That's a terrible general solution, and I cannot accept it the way you're presenting it. Specific circumstances trump general theory...and when the general theory has some holes beyond just the specific circumstances, it's probably a good thing that it does.


I'm confused. Did someone drop the game, or did they almost drop the game?

Two people came close publicly, I came close privately. Not sure about the other three.


Already outlined the possible responses for this situation, where you're brought tacos on burger night. If you really can't bear to eat tacos, that's too bad.

A) They get mad, ruin the tacos for everyone by having an argument. B) They silently despise the tacos, and that they're forced to eat them. C) They say they unfortunately cannot eat tacos. The others feel bad for their mistake, but they can still enjoy the tacos. D) The player decides they don't mind tacos, so they're going to enjoy them, even though they wanted burgers.

And I said you just go get yourself a burger, because you don't have to avoid eating just to avoid offending the guy who said he's bring you a burger and then didn't by not eating the food he actually brought you. Nutting up and eating the tacos is the best-case solution if you're trapped on a desert island, but that's not the case here.


As you showed, there were tons of roleplaying opportunities and sources of conflict that could arise from these scenarios, which you could have a seriously great game with.

There are opportunities for an absolutely wonderful game here, but the nature and scale of those opportunities has changed dramatically from what we were told we'd get. Now those opportunities come with the potential threat of ruining player agency, or destroying the illusion of the game, or forcing people to ruin their own fun for the sake of the mechanics.

This brings me to my question for all of you, hopefully getting an answer that's on-topic with the thread's original intentions:

Taking into account that the players are less than happy with the super-magic anime plug-in character and her super-magic anime plug-in canon love interest who we have to directly compete with, and taking into account the problems this can pose to either player agency or suspension of disbelief or enjoyment of the game, and taking into account that calling a Mulligan and changing things so that it never happened is a last-choice option at this point in the game, and taking into account that the entire mechanical system of the game is focused around a competition to gett this super-mage to fall in love with one of us, what advice would you give our DM on presenting challenges that are both realistic for the situation as well as on a scale the characters can actually take part on (even a small part), given the set-up and premise of the game's story and mechanics?

The argument about the general applicability of twists in the game is a useful argument to have, but keeping this particular twist from killing the game in any of a number of ways is the purpose of this thread's existence. The game did not immediately crumble when the twist occurred, but it came close, and it's been a bit unsteady since; any advice on steadying it up would be greatly appreciated all around.

Lentrax
2015-11-01, 08:56 AM
Right....

With the additional information of "Well the magical girl already has a love interest'...

I think that that bit will kill the game. It is hard to play in a game where you've already been told you lost.

This kind of information is something that any GM for any game to carefully think through.

That's like getting the PCs all geared up for the fight for the BBEG, setting everything up, the players sure they have time until the solstice two weeks ago... then telling them the bad guys found a loophole while they were away and the world was magically conquered a week ago.

Good Story and Player Expectations need to meet somewhere, and in this case, I think the Player Expectations needed to be considered before a bomb like that.

Florian
2015-11-01, 09:19 AM
@Lentrax:

That's something that wouldn't bother me. Winning or even suceeding anywhere are not really parts I feel necessary to enjoying the game. Else I couldn't participate in a game based on the knights of the round table knowing that Merlin is there and Camelot will fall, right?

goto124
2015-11-01, 09:22 AM
There has to be a reasonable amount of conflict, as opposed to 'beat a super-mage'. Sure there are ways, but not only is it not what the players signed up for, it will take a VERY skillful GM to pull it off without making many situations contrived (read: verisimilitude-breaking).

Mr. Mask
2015-11-01, 09:24 AM
Well, you appear to have agreed that GMs are free to put twists in their games, but they should design them carefully, which I agree with. So that's pretty much settled. I do feel you take a harsh stance against the idea of putting up with an enjoying what comes your way. If I want a burger, but someone offers me a taco, I'd rather eat the taco and be happy about it than go off to the store to buy burgers.


For the GM's case, I suggest focusing on the philosophical nature of things. How can you win the heart of a god when your rival is a god? A neat idea would be to band together against the rival god, where you are actually supporting each other for the sake of overshadowing them (planning to break the alliance when they are less of a threat).

There are some stories that deal with ordinary people helping out the super heroes, where the question comes up, "but what can I do? I'm just a human...." I'd suggest taking inspiration from those, and making that a theme of some of the more magical adventures, where your characters standing up against such unstoppable foes for the sake of someone is a profound, constant element of these stories. You could then go with a heart of the cards solution, where your friendship gives the hero the strength to save the idea, or you could have fairly mundane solutions to extreme problems. Demons are about to eat the unconscious hero, so you pick her up and run for it, and narrowly escape them. Or you distract whatever the monster is so the hero can do whatever. Or you need to get the protagonist's weapon and throw it to them so that they can fight. Or maybe you can even get lent some magical power temporarily to fight on the protagonist's behalf. Small mundane things, but still important.

Oh, notably, you can have emotional challenges. Your character is in doubt because why are they even here, when they're so useless compared to magical super heroes. Then they think about how lonely the hero must be, when they're someone no one wants to be friends with. And then they realize they care about the hero, so they're going to stay and do whatever they can. Where just being there and lending emotional support is a form of challenge and victory.

Florian
2015-11-01, 09:37 AM
I'm with Mr.Mask there. That basic setup can lead to very creative solutions, especially the likes of that is not written on your character sheet.

Lentrax
2015-11-01, 09:39 AM
@Lentrax:

That's something that wouldn't bother me. Winning or even suceeding anywhere are not really parts I feel necessary to enjoying the game. Else I couldn't participate in a game based on the knights of the round table knowing that Merlin is there and Camelot will fall, right?

Except the point of the game is to develop a romantic interest with the protagonist. By starting out as 'The protagonist is already in love, and is actively in a relationship with an NPC' you have negated the premise of the game to begin with.

I play Descent with my RL group knowing full well, that failure is the most likely outcome. In any game where there is a chance at losing, I know there is a chance that everything I do is completely futile, and I will not win. But I still play them because there is a chance no matter how slim, that I might be able to win.

This is a situation where my expectations as a player would have been so badly maligned that I can't see a way to even work through that problem.

I'm not saying I need to win, or have some pathological need for it, in fact, some of my most memorable games involve me losing. I play many, many historical simulations knowing full well the way they are supposed to go. And I have just as much fun knowing that my attempts to harry British troops in a game of Waterloo are hopeless. but even there, in a situation that starts out as horrible and mostly hopeless, there is still a chance that victory can be snatched from the triumphant jaws of history.

But to start out with that hope, and then have it subverted into "You're just gonna be second rate, probably lower if I find someone else on my level." That is not a fun premise for a game.

AvatarVecna
2015-11-01, 09:54 AM
Well, you appear to have agreed that GMs are free to put twists in their games, but they should design them carefully, which I agree with. So that's pretty much settled. I do feel you take a harsh stance against the idea of putting up with an enjoying what comes your way. If I want a burger, but someone offers me a taco, I'd rather eat the taco and be happy about it than go off to the store to buy burgers.

I'm fine enjoying what comes my way as long as it's still enjoyable. Taking your example in a more literal sense, I actually don't really like tacos at all. That said, if my buddy is picking up tacos and doesn't want to go the burger place, I'd be happy getting a burrito; wouldn't be happy with a taco though, at best I'd maybe be "not hungry anymore".

Your suggestions seem interesting, and I'll see if I can play my part in making them happen. It would certainly make for an interesting game, if it could be pulled off...

EDIT:


Except the point of the game is to develop a romantic interest with the protagonist. By starting out as 'The protagonist is already in love, and is actively in a relationship with an NPC' you have negated the premise of the game to begin with.

As of right now, I don't know if it's completely hopeless; what I do know is that, at some point in their canon, these two were romantically together and (if I picked up context clues correctly) were raising a child together. If the "getting together" point has already happened in canon, we're screwed unless we're rewriting canon, which would seem forced. If the "getting together" point hasn't happened yet, we've got a chance, but I'm sure that if they weren't together at the start of the series, the other super-mage was probably doing the "showing interest that Senpai doesn't notice" thing. It doesn't help that her name is Fate; having to literally subvert Fate to win Nanoha's love is a little on-the-nose IMO.

There's a chance...maybe. It depends on whether we're following canon, whether they're together at this point in canon, and how much of a problem their friendship/relationship will be for us new friends trying to win her heart.

EDIT 2:

Of course, worst case scenario: if they're already in love, we can try and push this game to focus on the "Harem" part of "High School Harem Comedy"; polygamy for the win?

Satinavian
2015-11-01, 12:53 PM
? That sounds like a good conflict for that character type. War has broken out, no hope is in sight, it is kill or be killed! But the apostle of peace refuses to accept that. Will they die a tragic hero, peace being unattainable? Will their view of the world shatter under the horrors of war? Or will they succeed, and bring peace where there should've been war?Except that it is quite difficult to run a wargame (PCs on one side, all is about battles, fighting and strategy) and a diplomacy game at the same time with the same group. Most likely the peace apostle will most of the game not even be at the same location as the frontline fighter PCs. Nor will he stay in contact with them.

This is at the root of the problem... stories thrive on conflict, but RPG players are becoming averse to such. Guided tours with programmes telling you exactly what will happen are fine, of course.
Rubbish.

No one wants to avoid conflict and make the game dull. But as conflict is that central, the kind of conflict defines the kind of game. That is why players want to choose the kind of conflict. Especcially in PbP which can take forever and where a lot of other games exist. No one wants to be in such a game without being invested in it.

You mightn't survive: That's the conflict.... What fund would a highschool survival island game be if you could just mow down every enemy that reared it's head? That'd be DnD power fantasy with different trappings. If you have to do your best to escape and survive, where just feeding yourself is an adventure, and you have to change from wimpy highschool kid to survivalist killer, that's an adventure, that is conflict. So far, many of the problems you outline is that the game features conflict.Or it might be that joining a highschool game instead of a survival game was a deliberate decision.
It's not that survival has never been done before. I personally think, many DMs are pretty bad at it. Survival is mostly a question of what previous knowledge people have, what the surroundings have to offer and then lots and lots of really tedious repeating everyday tasks for gathering food and maybe once a week something else.
Trying to light a fire may be interesting the first time. It certainly won't be a week later. Same with nearly everything else. If the DM has a clue about surviva, he might come up with a bigger nummer of different challanges and, more important, complications. If not, it is one scene for water, maybe 3 for food, one for fire, one for a hut and after that mostly stupid monster attacks. And even if it is a good survival game, those get boring too.

The general case makes the specific case. Either twists are valid ideas in games, or they aren't.Personally i find, twists can work well in a final chapter of an adventure, especcially the last or second to last scene. Some big surprise about the real reasons for stuff. Then people have played the kind of game they wanted and are not forced to continue with something they don't want to play.
Even then i have seen such twists go wrong when certain characters find themself suddenly without motivation to go to the finale because their reason to be there just vanished.


In fiction important twists happen either in the middle of the story (which allows a change of genre but more commonly deal with everything introduced in the first half again under different viewpoint) or at the end. Big surprises in the beginning are not twist but setting the stage.

Satinavian: If they're prejudiced against soldiers, that would create some tension. If they stick around, that'd be a good source of conflict.And when the charater does not stick aroud (which might be the far mor in-character reaction), the game is over.
Seriously, harem comedies tend to feature characters with few, but exaggerated character traits. If the protagonist they are supposed to fall for does something this extreme, it should be known at character creation so players make characters who are able to fall for her.

Illven
2015-11-01, 01:05 PM
Hey. Player of the girl with the cancerous twin here.

I think everyone that says the whole protagonist-kun is better then you so that leads to drama and drama= good is missing the point.

My protagonist doesn't have an issue with people being better then her necessarily.

My character is a horseback rider, if someone is a better horseback rider she'll be bummed, but resolve to train harder and beat them.

If someone shows a vast understanding of quantum physics, that's something to be celebrated. Sure they are better then my character in that area, but my character is (wrongly) convinced that while individual talent, and desire go a long way, anyone could learn quantum physics if they worked hard enough.

But now there's this... D&D term would probably be sorceress.

No matter how hard Carisa tries, she will never be a sorceress. She wasn't born with it. Miss.Protagonist will always be better then her in a way she can't possibly compete with.

So in less then half a day after meeting Protagonist-kun, she just shattered my character's world view.


Would you romance someone who did that?

Florian
2015-11-01, 01:26 PM
Well, if you can't beat her at the sorcery-thingy, beat her at pure bravery and chuzpe. Be the underdog that wins.

Illven
2015-11-01, 01:58 PM
Well, if you can't beat her at the sorcery-thingy, beat her at pure bravery and chuzpe. Be the underdog that wins.

But anyone can be brave and have chuzpe.

Dycize
2015-11-01, 05:24 PM
The harsh balance of trust and twists.
I haven't read all of the thread (there's quite a bunch of lengthy messages there), but basically, a twist that changes how the world works quite a bit and that no players anticipated caused issues.
And that's normal.
Online games, wether play by post or freestyle in chats or anything, tend to require a certain level of trust.
Saying "no surnatural PCs" is fine, not mentionning that it's likely actually supernatural stuff will crop up is no good unless you play with people who know you and trust you.
Harem comedy stuff isn't shy to exaggerated hijinks and ambiguously magical (or not?) characters in anime, which is fine.
The main character turning out to be a hero secretly fighting monsters or something?...
This goes sadly beyond what blind trust can handle without leaving some people (ie : players) bummed, because it changes quite a few rules about the setting.
RPGs often involve people oddly competent at tasks they may not be prepared for... Unless it's one of those games where the fun is in "losing".
I've known a similar situation on a sci-fi MMO. The game is pretty high sci-fi with human robots, space elves, science that allows a pretty wild bunch of things to be possible. Another player, a RPer among others, he wasn't the most well known, but when he announced he intended to do an event (basically a GM'd story), most people were thinking "cool! let's see what this player who plays a walking armory of a robot does".
...And on the day of the event, the characters got warped to an european-style castle without exits inhabited by a vampire-looking person who was "invincible in his domain".
The overall reaction to that was massive "what do we do?" OOC moment and the other players deciding "nope, not touching that".
Of course this is a pretty dramatic example, but adding a genre to your campaign as a twist hurts a lot without proper preparation.

To take a non-RPG example, there's some animes that did their pre-airing promotions without ever mentionning some of the twists, infamously the Madoka Magica anime looked like an extra cute magical girl anime, the only hint being savvy viewers questionning the choice of a particular writer for the show. The show mostly plays it straight for the 1st 2~3 episodes, albeit with a slightly more serious take on a couple things... And then the end of the 3rd episode came and the show's mood took a nosedive towards a much more grim story.
It's fine for a show, if you don't like the new direction, big whoop, you can just stop watching it. It's only 2-3 episodes (unless it changes in the middle of a 25, 50 episodes long story, then it's harder to stomach).
A tabletop game has the player involved before the story even starts with character creation.
A good twist surprises the viewers/players without leaving them unsatisfied. From what I skimmed through, it seems there *were* hints that made player go "oh so that's what it was!" when the magic reveal came, but essentially, that was not enough.
A good way to have handled this would be for some more overt surnatural events take place early on, or say, news stations referencing "mysterious gaz leaks" (we all know what THOSE are) happening... Or just blatantly putting in the opening thread "no supernatural PCs, but there will be supernatural things, your characters are not aware". Savvy players would think chances would be high for the main character to be magical, but at least, their expectations would be in line with what happens.

Saying people don't want to see surprises anymore is unreasonnable, imho. But pulling a plot switcheroo without any warnings would be like... Dressing up properly with a charming smile, managing to invite someone to a date at your place with your many good points, then welcoming your date home... With a bunch of kids from a previous relationship running around. Oh whoops did we really forget to say we already had kids from a previous relationship? Ah, 'tis but the surprises of life~ How'd you enjoy that one eh?
*cough*

...I don't know what to say about the fact that this is probably the closest "tl;dr" to my grain of salt on the matter.

Mr. Mask
2015-11-01, 06:44 PM
Illven: Well... that'd be petty. If broadening your horizons shatters your affection for someone, you didn't like them very much. Now, pettiness does have its place in drama. The character can be angry even if it's not justified, and often that can make a better form of romantic conflict (as the character can have a relevation that they're wrong and become closer to the person they wrongly hated). They struggle with their old world-view and what they've learned, and try to keep the old view alive despite reality--but it forces them to accept the harsh realities that they had before refused to have acknowledged. Not everyone can become the greatest physicist, not everyone can become the greatest basketball player, and not everyone can have powerful magic. That can be some pretty interesting character development.

JNAProductions
2015-11-01, 06:45 PM
Illven: Well... that'd be petty. If broadening your horizons shatters your affection for someone, you didn't like them very much. Now, pettiness does have its place in drama. The character can be angry even if it's not justified, and often that can make a better form of romantic conflict (as the character can have a relevation that they're wrong and become closer to the person they wrongly hated). They struggle with their old world-view and what they've learned, and try to keep the old view alive despite reality--but it forces them to accept the harsh realities that they had before refused to have acknowledged. Not everyone can become the greatest physicist, not everyone can become the greatest basketball player, and not everyone can have powerful magic. That can be some pretty interesting character development.

This happened pretty ealry on. Probably much too early on.

Mr. Mask
2015-11-01, 06:50 PM
Quite possible. This is the kind of twist I'd probably want to foreshadow and allude to over a couple of sessions, and wait till the characters were more familiar with their target. Throwing it in early isn't really a terrible idea though. That is typical of most anime-inspired plots, throwing in the major twist at the start.

JAL_1138
2015-11-01, 07:10 PM
It boils down to degrees. "Twist" vs "Not what I signed up for and not what I wanted to play." The latter is more problematic.

If you tell me it's burger night and make tacos instead, big whoop, I like both. It's fundamentally similar (meat, breadlike substance, toppings, tasty foodstuffs) that my expectations aren't subverted to the extent that I'm going to be particularly irked.

If you tell me we're going deep-sea fishing in Cancún in December, and you'll handle the plane tickets, and I pack for that, and go to the airport, board the plane, drink my way through the flight on overpriced gin-and-tonics, get off the plane and stand there in my shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and flipflops holding a fishing rod only to find out we're not going fishing in Cancún, there's three feet of snow and a moose outside because we're going grizzly-hunting in Vancouver instead, Surprise! What a twist!, I'm going to be incredibly annoyed with you, too annoyed (and too cold) to enjoy meself no matter how much I might try to, even though I would have been excited to go grizzly-hunting in Vancouver had you told me that was the plan.

Question of degrees. Horrible pun intended.

Mr. Mask
2015-11-01, 07:13 PM
That would be a lousy twist.

Talakeal
2015-11-02, 03:40 AM
So I tried to bring up this scenario with my DM after the game tonight.

He told me that he hates players who think the DM can lie to them, and then let me in on his little secret: The reason he uses the DM screen is because he doesn't actually use his dice rolls. Instead he pretends to roll the dice and then tells the players he rolled whatever number he feels like. He doesn't consider it cheating or lying, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a min maxxer and power gamer with trust issues who would be better served staying at home and playing video games. He proclaimed that all good DMs do it, as the roll of the DM is to tell a story, not play a game.

So uh... yeah... I think you are fine... things could always be worse :smalleek:

ylvathrall
2015-11-02, 03:45 AM
Obviously I'm late to the party, but I read through this thread and thought people were putting a lot of emphasis on the taco vs. burger analogy. The actual problem here, though, doesn't match that analogy very well. I think another, related analogy better expresses the complaints people have.

In Situation 1, you say that you're bringing tacos and show up with burgers instead. I'm not thrilled, because I like tacos more, but I can make do. Maybe it will even turn out that I actually do like burgers and I just haven't had this kind before. Regardless, I can still enjoy the meal even if it isn't what I was expecting.

In Situation 2, you say that you're bringing tacos and show up with burgers instead. I'm not thrilled, because I actually don't eat meat. Maybe I've told you that I don't eat meat, so that we could more effectively decide on meals; maybe I didn't, because my reasons for preferring the options I do are none of your business. Either way, the end result is that there is that you're no longer bringing anything I want to eat. I'm going to end up sitting around and drinking water while other people have lunch. My ability to enjoy the meal has been entirely removed by your substitution of something I would have eaten with something I won't.

Now, as far as extending this to an RPG goes, I would say that twists are fun if and only if they remain in the category of Situation 1. The instant you edge into Situation 2 (that is to say, your twist makes it impossible for other people to enjoy the game), it's no longer adding anything to the experience. As to where you draw the line, I would say that adjusting how you implement the game's basic premise is acceptable, and altering the premise itself is not.

To use an example, I'm running a game now in which the PCs are lycanthropes trying to establish themselves as a pack. Putting in challenges and twists along the way to that goal is fine. Suddenly saying "Actually lycanthropy is a horrible curse that no one would ever want and you're going to spend the whole campaign looking for a cure" would not, because that changes the nature of the game on a fundamental level. These people signed up to play specifically because they wanted to play as werewolves; had they known that they weren't going to get to actually do so, they might not have been interested in the game in the first place.

To address the OP, it does sound like things are getting to the point that it's hard for the players to enjoy it. That being the case, I would definitely say it needs fixed; the point of the game is for people to have fun, and if they aren't, something isn't working right. As far as how to fix it, my advice would be to ask the players what about the original premise of the game intrigued them enough that they wanted to play. If you can run the game you have in mind while still having all of the things the players wanted, then go for it. If not, then you might either need to run the game they want to play, or look for players that want to play the game you're running. Otherwise people won't be happy, and my guess is the game will probably die, because it's hard to maintain interest or involvement in a game you aren't enjoying.

Oh, and next time, ask before you fundamentally alter the premise of the game. If it's so important that you don't give away the twist, at the very least ask if there are things that they consider grounds to automatically reject a game. That way, if they list things that you're planning on doing, you can at least let them know in advance that they shouldn't bother getting invested in your game. They might not list things you're going to do (if I'm eating in a vegetarian restaurant, I wouldn't ask whether something has meat in it, because I don't think that's something I have to worry about in this context). But it would at least provide some kind of screening.

EDIT: Talakeal, your GM is horrible. Your GM is so horrible that people have questioned how such a bad GM can exist. He is the Holy Grail of bad GMs, because even though every time you mention his shenanigans here the consensus is that he's horrible, he somehow manages to keep players. He's the GM equivalent of a bad horror movie: it's so awful you don't want to watch, but so fascinatingly bad that you can't look away.

Either that, or you traded in for another bad GM. Either way, I would not use this guy as a role model of anything, including what not to do. If all you aim for is to do better than him, you're still aiming pretty low.

JAL_1138
2015-11-02, 06:10 AM
@Talakeal: Not gaming is preferable to remaining in a bad game. I would strongly suggest leaving. There are times to roll the dice just "because of the noise they make," as Gygax once said, but they're not frequent (IMO it's pretty much just when you want to creep players out by rolling something and grinning evilly, or when you've really pre-statted the wandering monster encounters and want to imply they're being made on the fly, although many would argue in favor of fudging to avoid undramatic character deaths or to salvage an unbalanced encounter)--but your DM's smug attitude on the matter, and belief that thinking otherwise is just munchkinry, is terrible.


@steinulfr: I used a rather extreme example, to be sure, but that's largely what I was getting at. Tweaking the premise vs fundamentally altering the game from what someone signed on for.

A less-extreme example would be if someone invited me to a Spelljammer game, with the premise of being crew on a small ship gallivanting across the spheres and so on...and quickly into the game dropped the PCs off in Ravenloft, from which there is no escape and in which our ship wouldn't work, I'd be ticked. It's not that I don't care for Ravenloft; it's that it's not what I signed up to play, not what I wanted to play. And I actually like that setting. I could try to enjoy it, but would likely ultimately be too aggravated about having the game I signed up for and wanted to play yoinked out from under me to have much fun. I'd have been expecting Cancun and have wound up in Vancouver, so to speak. It'd be much worse if it was a setting or genre I actively disliked. I don't think that's a case of "being unwilling to enjoy what life hands you" as other posters have implied, either. But while a jump to Raveloft would be too jarring, a tweak to the premise of a Spelljammer game, like the injection of sci-fi horror elements but still remaining Spelljammer, would probably be at worst an annoying "burgers vs tacos" shift that didn't really wreck things and could still be enjoyed (unless I really, really didn't want to play a horror game at all), and at best an interesting twist. Conversely, to other people, that might be the ideal setup to a Ravenloft game, because with that setting the mists do ensnare unsuspecting people.

I agree that it really seems in this case that the genre shift was too much, to a genre some of the players actively dislike. Declaring a mulligan or letting the game go might be the best options.


That said, @OP: You shouldn't feel bad for doing it, regardless of the reaction; it was an honest mistake--thought it would work and it didn't. Happens to everyone as a DM sooner or later, with varying degrees of player dissatisfaction, from merely bored to outright upset. Sometimes things you try just flop, no matter how good a DM you are. Nobody's perfect, and for that matter a twist that might work great for some groups might go poorly with others.

Keltest
2015-11-02, 06:22 AM
So I tried to bring up this scenario with my DM after the game tonight.

He told me that he hates players who think the DM can lie to them, and then let me in on his little secret: The reason he uses the DM screen is because he doesn't actually use his dice rolls. Instead he pretends to roll the dice and then tells the players he rolled whatever number he feels like. He doesn't consider it cheating or lying, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a min maxxer and power gamer with trust issues who would be better served staying at home and playing video games. He proclaimed that all good DMs do it, as the roll of the DM is to tell a story, not play a game.

So uh... yeah... I think you are fine... things could always be worse :smalleek:

He isn't necessarily wrong. There are times where monsters getting 3 crits on the party fighter before the cleric can Heal him will result in a TPK to an otherwise trivial encounter, especially in the lower levels. Its up to the DM to use his best judgment as to whether or not allowing the dice rolls to interfere with the action will make the game more or less fun.

Florian
2015-11-02, 06:25 AM
Funny, that. The situation that Talakael mentions is what is viewd as "good gming" by the fans of the most popular local RPGing system in my home country.

There's a small but vocal counter movement to that and the adherents to that kind of game are very much into what gets called "drama play". What the OP wrote simply reads like a botched attempt at that.

JAL_1138
2015-11-02, 06:36 AM
He isn't necessarily wrong. There are times where monsters getting 3 crits on the party fighter before the cleric can Heal him will result in a TPK to an otherwise trivial encounter, especially in the lower levels. Its up to the DM to use his best judgment as to whether or not allowing the dice rolls to interfere with the action will make the game more or less fun.


Funny, that. The situation that Talakael mentions is what is viewd as "good gming" by the fans of the most popular local RPGing system in my home country.

There's a small but vocal counter movement to that and the adherents to that kind of game are very much into what gets called "drama play". What the OP wrote simply reads like a botched attempt at that.

It's not so much the fudging, which while I personally don't favor it (try playing AD&D with 1 or 2 HP at first level because of a crap Hit Die roll sometime--I've lost a character to squirrels before; they get no sympathy from me if the monster crits :smalltongue:) does have its uses and its adherents. It's the attitude, combined with other anecdotes which taken together present a far worse picture than this anecdote alone.

goto124
2015-11-02, 06:54 AM
as the roll of the DM is to tell a story, not play a game.

Hmm... according to my experience on these forums, 'telling a story' is the point of a novel and/or a video game, not a tabletop game.

AvatarVecna
2015-11-02, 07:05 AM
Hmm... according to my experience on these forums, 'telling a story' is the point of a novel and/or a video game, not a tabletop game.

It's at least part of it, but there has to be a balance. If the player's are fine riding the DM's rails (because the story is awesomely immersive enough or whatever), it can make for a lovely game, no matter how much fudging is going on. If everybody's agreed to play a "kick in the door, raid the dungeon, kill the things, take their stuff" kind of game, the fun is at least partially derived from everybody playing by the rules.

Also, just throwing out there that Talakeal's DM is (from what I've observed in the many "cry for help" threads Talakeal's posted) worse at the job than mythologial being of pure Evil, because at least mythologial being of pure Evil would be doing everything wrong on purpose, while understanding why it's wrong.

Yuki Akuma
2015-11-02, 09:41 AM
So, wait, if I'm reading this thread right...

You're running a Nanoha fan game? But didn't tell the players? ... The ****?

Satinavian
2015-11-02, 09:47 AM
Funny, that. The situation that Talakael mentions is what is viewd as "good gming" by the fans of the most popular local RPGing system in my home country.Not really since at least a full decade.

Games change, communities change, authors change. Bad habits from the 80s are not immune to change. If Talakael had posted it in any dedicated TDE-forum, people would have called the DM wrong and suggest a change of group exactly lile they do here.

Segev
2015-11-02, 11:38 AM
If you tell me it's burger night and make tacos instead, big whoop, I like both. It's fundamentally similar (meat, breadlike substance, toppings, tasty foodstuffs) that my expectations aren't subverted to the extent that I'm going to be particularly irked.Actually, this would be a game-altering "twist" for me, because I wouldn't bother to show up to taco night.

I can't stand tacos; there's something - a spice, I think it's cumin - that flavors most Mexican food as served in the US (and is PERVASIVE in taco fixin's) that I find utterly repulsive and can't gag down.

So if I was told it was burger night, and then tacos were the only food...I'd be annoyed, at BEST, and possibly leave, since I'd also be hungry and now need to get food elsewhere.


A better analogy would be fishing in Cancun in December...only to arrive and discover that it's happening in a submerged bell jar. A different experience than expected, but still fishing, still something you can wear your Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops to...maybe not so much your thing, but PROBABLY not a deal breaker unless you have a hang-up about being under water or in confined spaces.

Sacrieur
2015-11-02, 12:14 PM
I lie all the time to prevent metagaming.

JAL_1138
2015-11-02, 01:05 PM
Actually, this would be a game-altering "twist" for me, because I wouldn't bother to show up to taco night.

I can't stand tacos; there's something - a spice, I think it's cumin - that flavors most Mexican food as served in the US (and is PERVASIVE in taco fixin's) that I find utterly repulsive and can't gag down.

So if I was told it was burger night, and then tacos were the only food...I'd be annoyed, at BEST, and possibly leave, since I'd also be hungry and now need to get food elsewhere.


A better analogy would be fishing in Cancun in December...only to arrive and discover that it's happening in a submerged bell jar. A different experience than expected, but still fishing, still something you can wear your Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops to...maybe not so much your thing, but PROBABLY not a deal breaker unless you have a hang-up about being under water or in confined spaces.

Don't get hung up on the taco analogy. I used it because others did and it's something I'd find minor. (As an aside, there's tacos and then there's tacos; they don't all use adobo spice). Imagine it's something else you'd find equally minor.

That said, the last time I went fishing in Cancun, after we got a couple of fish in the boat, we started to have an issue with sharks hitting the fish we'd hooked, and kept reeling in tuna heads instead of whole tuna, the sharks having bitten off the rest of the fish around or behind the gills. So, uh, once you hit the open ocean, maybe don't go swimming. The coast and the reefs, sure, but open ocean? That's a whole lotta nope right there. Not that you'd be spearfishing in the open ocean (or out of a diving bell--you'd use scuba tanks or a snorkel) anyway, but still.

So, I guess the moral is that different people will react differently to different twists and/or genre changes?

Talakeal
2015-11-02, 01:55 PM
Hmm... according to my experience on these forums, 'telling a story' is the point of a novel and/or a video game, not a tabletop game.

Funny, he said the exact same thing about rolling dice. "If you want an impartial arbiter (the dice) to determine things, why not just play a computer game which can't fudge the numbers!"

Keltest
2015-11-02, 01:58 PM
Funny, he said the exact same thing about rolling dice. "If you want an impartial arbiter (the dice) to determine things, why not just play a computer game which can't fudge the numbers!"

is this the horrifically bad DM you left, or a different DM?

Either way, unsurprisingly the best DMs tend to be a happy medium. They aren't so cruel and merciless that they'll let your adventure end by getting ambushed by kobolds at level 4 (unless you really mess up), but they aren't going to let you automatically win the fights either.

Talakeal
2015-11-02, 02:23 PM
You know, I have always found honesty to be the best policy. I don't fudge dice or change rules mid session often, but when I do I am usually upfront with my players about it. Saying "That lucky his from the kobold should kill you, but I don't want you to sit out the whole adventure because of one bad roll so I am saying it only brings you down to stabilized at -9... unless of course you would rather die and bring in a new character" may temporarily break immersion, but I feel it garners trust, and having players that trust the DM to not lie to them is much healthier for the game in the long run.

I also sometimes make mistakes, and if the players can point them out I can fix them. Most other DMs I talk to never let the players second guess them and refuse to admit, let alone correct, their mistakes.

Of course I also let my players know the difficulty of a roll before rolling the dice, which most people on the playground consider utter taboo.

So I guess I am simultaneously an anal retentive rules lawyer / number cruncher and a liberal hippy DM. Odd combination.



is this the horrifically bad DM you left, or a different DM?

Either way, unsurprisingly the best DMs tend to be a happy medium. They aren't so cruel and merciless that they'll let your adventure end by getting ambushed by kobolds at level 4 (unless you really mess up), but they aren't going to let you automatically win the fights either.

The same one (of course).

Basically I was clear of him for 2-3 months, and then the other players in the game contacted me and started begging me to come back and that, combined with his weekly begging at our other game* and my general boredom / desire for gaming tempted me to come back and give his game another try with the ultimate goal of establishing enough rapport with the other players that I can start my own group.

But, before I get back into his game, I was trying to talk out some issues with him to see if we can actually improve the experience. This conversation has pretty much convinced me that we have not.


He also claims that he is the luckiest man alive when it comes to dice, and that fudging dice is the only way he can get through an adventure without killing his party is by fudging roles.**

In the Mage game we are both players in he likewise claims to be lucky. I have never seen him fail a roll, and his average roll is 5 successes (for those of you not familiar with WW, that is really good) and at least once a session gets significantly more successes than he has dice in the pool due to rolling tens. Of course, he never lets anyone else see his rolls, and I don't believe in supernatural good luck, so I suspect the far more obvious solution.


*The DM of which, according to this DM, fudges dice even more than he does, and we are both enjoying the hell out of that game so I shouldn't mind.

**: Note that, despite the implication, he claims to have no compunctions about fudging against the PCs if he feels they are having too easy a time or when he feels one PC is outshining the other PCs and needs to be taken down a peg.

Cluedrew
2015-11-02, 04:18 PM
I use "black box theory" for this sort of thing. Which means I will not lie to you but I may not tell you what is in the box. That is there is information I will share at the beginning of the game and some I will not. Also the information in the two groups should never conflict. So saying the campaign is about A and that is just a brief state before it becomes about B, that is a contradiction. However failing to reveal some particular details is not a problem.

The problem of course just becomes how to know when something is just "in the box" as opposed to a lie, I go by the idea of contradiction. If something I add to the campaign contradicts something that I had before, it is probably a lie, otherwise it is just an addition. Also making sure that the other players understand what is what can be important. Especially if you want to keep it a "surprize"... to which I say don't have surprises. Not unless you know everyone else at the table really well and even then you are taking a risk. Stick unknowns you can fill in as you go, or boxes you can open.

So put information in a box, let people know the box is there but only open the box when you are ready.

To Talakeal: I don't personally have a problem with arbitrated results, but (and I may be pointing out the obvious here) if that is what everyone wants than why didn't he tell everyone about it to begin with?

Talakeal
2015-11-02, 04:41 PM
You know, a lot of it has to do with the context of the lie. Sort of an IC / OOC thing, but not quite.

No one accuses an actor of calling a stage prop the ghost of his dead father when both he and the audience know it is not because that is part of the whole concept of acting. On the other hand, if the theater sold you tickets to Hamlet and instead performed Romeo and Juliette that is lying to the audience outside of the bounds of the play and thus violates expectations.

For example, when I was talking to the DM the other night he said:

There is no difference between a DM rolling a 1 and proclaiming "I rolled a nat 20" than the players encountering an army that has been cloaked by an illusionists magic and the DM stating "You see an empty field stretching before you." To me there is a huge difference between lying to "the players" and lying to "their characters" although that line can get fuzzy sometimes as all the information the characters receive must be filtered through the players, and giving the players to much information can spoil surprises and legitimate tactics such as the above illusion.

I remember when I was first starting to DM we would have situations where the DM would get the players mad by stating something as a certainty. For example, if a player searches for traps and fails to find them the DM might state "You don't find any traps," or even "You're character is certain the room is safe," rather than "There are no traps."



To Talakeal: I don't personally have a problem with arbitrated results, but (and I may be pointing out the obvious here) if that is what everyone wants than why didn't he tell everyone about it to begin with?

Maybe the same reason he pretends to roll dice in the first place, because the illusion of control and impartiality are important to player enjoyment.

Although he kind of acted surprised that I had been playing, and even DMing, for decades, and didn't already know that all the cool DMs were doing it, so maybe he thinks the players have caught on and are just going along with the act.

goto124
2015-11-02, 10:46 PM
For example, if a player searches for traps and fails to find them the DM might state "You don't find any traps," or even "You're character is certain the room is safe," rather than "There are no traps."

Reminds me of a Darths & Droids strip (http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0463.html)...


There are certain types of players for whom the less you say as a GM, the scarier the situation will be. The more stuff you specifically deny, the more the player will suspect that there's something hidden and dangerous going on that they can't detect.

This response can be cultivated. Never say, "There are no traps in the room," when you can say, "You don't detect any traps." Don't say, "There are no orcs around." Say, "There are no orcs visible within the range of the feeble flickering of your torches." And especially don't say, "It's perfectly safe to rest and regain your strength in the realm of the friendly elves. They tend to your wounds and give you delicious nuts and berries, and sweet honeyed wine to drink." Say instead, "The elves appear to be friendly, offering what they claim are healing balms and lotions. You sniff the golden liquid in a proffered cup, and think you can recognise a faint odour of almonds..."