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    Default DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    TL;DR below

    Hello there. The system in question is D&D 3.5, and i may post a few mechanical details here and there, but on the whole the system doesn't matter.

    I'm DMing a pirate campaign, still mostly in it's early stages, which is sort of sandbox-ish. The party has a lot of options and choices in most things they do. The party has gotten itself in a difficult situation, and they are discussing options through emails before the next session. The problem is that one of the plans is extremely dangerous, foolishly so, and might result in a group wipe out. (TPK i believe is the term?) But their idea is a more interesting, daring and flavorful, and might make for a better story, only it may make things more difficult in the future. Do I make things easier on them to let it succeed?

    Perhaps more background is in order:
    Our playrgoup is fairly casual, partly "make the rules as we go", out there for the fun, not scrutinising details. The previous campaign was the classic heroic fantasy ordeal with defying the odds, doing fantastic things and the like.

    In the current campaign they are now on an island which is in the grip of "The Empire"- a colonial force of humans and dwarves, a substantial bit of which are higher level, more casters, more numbers, better equipment and the like. I've intended to build the empire as a serious threat, not as comical adverseries such as in Pirates of the Caribbeans. The Party had two entangelments with the Empire, once with their Elite troops (who captured two of the party and imprisoned them), and once with more regular troops (while breaking the imprisoned out of jail, who were still a credible threat). The party approximately know the general power level of the main troops of the Empire.

    the party has gained a sort of a motley crew (less capable on the whole than themselves, thye were also prisoners and they are badly equipped), and are now looking to get a ship out of the island. two main options present themselves:
    1) Seek out a hidden pirate cave with a few boats to sell possibly. but the party dislikes the idea of paying for the boat, not to mention they don't have much equipment to sell for the boat. I've made a few other possibilites to get a boat from the hidden cave, but these are not yet known for the party.

    2) or the party's idea: take over one of the caravels of the Empire... which has elite troops on it, is right near to the Empire's galley who has even more troops, ballistas and cannons and casters, and a bunch of other complications. I'm not saying it's impossible (only part of the crew might be awake at night, but even the rest will be in their light armor, and more) but it will be quite difficult, a very likely result will be the death of the entire party.

    On one side- the party sort of know the risk, I've given them ample warnings (and will do so more through their information gathering stage), and it will be quite silly to suddenly downgrade the Empire troops, defenses, or tactical reasoning after a session where they performed well. Moreover, it will net the party a ship with significant advantages in the campaign (Empire seal, Empire maps, lodgers, fully armed vessel, even some gunpowder), so shouldn't this be aptly difficult?

    My main Concern is however that the image and role I wish to set for the Empire as a serious "don't under estimate" me threat might be well broken if a group of lower level, half equipped, seriously under manned and under gunned crew with not such great of a plan will do this.

    On the other side- from a story/ cool factor point of view, this sounds fantastic! wily pirates, in their worst condition, win as underdogs and steal a ship from the Empire's nose! what a feat! This might be a fun and memorable roleplaying experience. Doesn't that count for anything? Isn't this what a pirate campaign is all about?

    The first approach ("deal with it") encourages responsibility, checking out the situation and weighing the odds. It also discourages daring acts, mischeif and chance taking which i'd like to keep in the spirit of the game. The second approach ("give them the experience they want") does promote daring do and the swashbuckler's feel, but in the current situation, it seems to push it up to bloody dangerous foolishness.

    Your opinions?

    TL;DR: The party wishes to do a near suicidal but immensely cool plan. (despite several warning) Should I let them deal with the difficulties of the plan even if it might kill them all all, and prove anticlimactic, or should I ease things up to allow them success, despite it become unrealistic, and breaking the campaign long feel of the threat?

    (Search word: piratewitch)
    Last edited by Kol Korran; 2012-10-01 at 01:30 AM.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    TL;DR below

    Hello there. The system in question is D&D 3.5, and i may post a few mechanical details here and there, but on the whole the system doesn't matter.

    I'm DMing a pirate campaign, still mostly in it's early stages, which is sort of sandbox-ish. The party has a lot of options and choices in most things they do. The party has gotten itself in a difficult situation, and they are discussing options through emails before the next session. The problem is that one of the plans is extremely dangerous, foolishly so, and might result in a group wipe out. (TPK i believe is the term?) But their idea is a more interesting, daring and flavorful, and might make for a better story, only it may make things more difficult in the future. Do I make things easier on them to let it succeed?

    Perhaps more background is in order:
    Our playrgoup is fairly casual, partly "make the rules as we go", out there for the fun, not scrutinising details. The previous campaign was the classic heroic fantasy ordeal with defying the odds, doing fantastic things and the like.

    In the current campaign they are now on an island which is in the grip of "The Empire"- a colonial force of humans and dwarves, a substantial bit of which are higher level, more casters, more numbers, better equipment and the like. I've intended to build the empire as a serious threat, not as comical adverseries such as in Pirates of the Caribbeans. The Party had two entangelments with the Empire, once with their Elite troops (who captured two of the party and imprisoned them), and once with more regular troops (while breaking the imprisoned out of jail, who were still a credible threat). The party approximately know the general power level of the main troops of the Empire.

    the party has gained a sort of a motley crew (less capable on the whole than themselves, thye were also prisoners and they are badly equipped), and are now looking to get a ship out of the island. two main options present themselves:
    1) Seek out a hidden pirate cave with a few boats to sell possibly. but the party dislikes the idea of paying for the boat, not to mention they don't have much equipment to sell for the boat. I've made a few other possibilites to get a boat from the hidden cave, but these are not yet known for the party.

    2) or the party's idea: take over one of the caravels of the Empire... which has elite troops on it, is right near to the Empire's galley who has even more troops, ballistas and cannons and casters, and a bunch of other complications. I'm not saying it's impossible (only part of the crew might be awake at night, but even the rest will be in their light armor, and more) but it will be quite difficult, a very likely result will be the death of the entire party.

    On one side- the party sort of know the risk, I've given them ample warnings (and will do so more through their information gathering stage), and it will be quite silly to suddenly downgrade the Empire troops, defenses, or tactical reasoning after a session where they performed well. Moreover, it will net the party a ship with significant advantages in the campaign (Empire seal, Empire maps, lodgers, fully armed vessel, even some gunpowder), so shouldn't this be aptly difficult?

    My main Concern is however that the image and role I wish to set for the Empire as a serious "don't under estimate" me threat might be well broken if a group of lower level, half equipped, seriously under manned and under gunned crew with not such great of a plan will do this.

    On the other side- from a story/ cool factor point of view, this sounds fantastic! wily pirates, in their worst condition, win as underdogs and steal a ship from the Empire's nose! what a feat! This might be a fun and memorable roleplaying experience. Doesn't that count for anything? Isn't this what a pirate campaign is all about?

    The first approach ("deal with it") encourages responsibility, checking out the situation and weighing the odds. It also discourages daring acts, mischeif and chance taking which i'd like to keep in the spirit of the game. The second approach ("give them the experience they want") does promote daring do and the swashbuckler's feel, but in the current situation, it seems to push it up to bloody dangerous foolishness.

    Your opinions?

    TL;DR: The party wishes to do a near suicidal but immensely cool plan. (despite several warning) Should I let them deal with the difficulties of the plan even if it might kill them all all, and prove anticlimactic, or should I ease things up to allow them success, despite it become unrealistic, and breaking the campaign long feel of the threat?

    (Search word: piratewitch)
    I really enjoy coming up with cool, risky plans to get awesome things when the odds are against me.

    This Star Wars campaign I was in had a group of five come up with a ludicrously convoluted xanatos gambit to take over an entire military base primarily through trickery. I won't go into it I don't think, but it was great fun. The planning just as fun as the actual implementation, really.

    Now, at the end of the plan everyone was in dying status except one character who won with 1 HP left. (And the DM rolled in the open and we knew the damage of the weapons being used. No fudging.) So, yeah, it TOTALLY could have been a TPK. It was 'this' close. But that made it far more memorable. Is it worth the risk of a TPK for a chance at a session your players may still bring up eight years from now?
    Last edited by SowZ; 2012-10-01 at 02:54 AM.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Maybe the Empire doesn't really perceive the threat yet, so sure in their superior firepower and superior numbers, that actual security on the boat they want to commandeer (it's a nautical term) is rather light, for such a vessel at least.
    So, if the players come up with a smart plan they might just get lucky and actually get away with it'll be a wakeup-call for the Empire, who from now on will have much higher security standards and also have a "personal" grudge against the rogues who made them look foolish.
    You can let the Empire seem weak for a single encounter, if the reasoning is sound, so long as they come back with a vengeance, so to speak.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    How about this for an idea. Fortune favors the bold!

    To further enhance the theme of wily pirates who survive against all odds using wits and a bit of luck, you can grant them an in game bonus based on the daring and originality of their plan.

    Basically, if they manage to wow you with their plan, you tell them. "Your plan is awesome! I give it 4 stars. That translates into a +4 on all skill checks, saves, and attack rolls during the mission." Or you could choose a reroll system where you grant them 4 rerolls or even 4 autosuccesses on any roll they make.

    Whatever bonus you choose, my expectation based on what you describe is that even with the bonus, they would still be put in a very tough, but hopefully now possible, encounter.

    As for the second problem of them gaining control of a ship far too powerful for their level, you can go with the angle of them taking the ship by surprise and using it to escape, holding out against all odds against the mustering troops as they rouse from their sleep, until they get to a safe area, but things get too hot for them to stay on the ship, so they sabotage the ship and escape on a raft or some kind of escape boat. That way, they get to try their daring plan, have a hope of success, but not the obscene bonus of getting the whole ship, which might wreck some of your plans.

    On a personal note, I feel you could also take many different angles with them getting the ship. Maybe some of the troops defect to them with the promise of gold, but it goes sour after a mission or two. Maybe the Empire will not stand idly by as one of their ships is used for piracy and send the strongest and fastest ships after them, at which point they might decide to abandon ship rather than wage war with the entire empire with one ship, or maybe they do, that's awesome too actually!

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    The first approach ("deal with it") encourages responsibility, checking out the situation and weighing the odds. It also discourages daring acts, mischeif and chance taking which i'd like to keep in the spirit of the game. The second approach ("give them the experience they want") does promote daring do and the swashbuckler's feel, but in the current situation, it seems to push it up to bloody dangerous foolishness.
    Is your group one of the groups that's playing a game, in which players can get killed, or or are you telling a story, in which the good guys must always succeed?

    In the first case, let them choose their risks. In the second case, you have to steer them to a CR-appropriate challenge. Don't scale down this challenge - tell them it's not CR-appropriate.

    (Fundamentally, I think it's their choice. Make clear they know that the CR-appropriate encounter is elsewhere, and they can play safely somewhere else, and that some or all of them could die trying to take the ship.

    Then, if they want to do it, you have to shift gears as much as they do.

    Having said that, if they try and fail, I would have them wake up chained to oars in a slave galley, and the next adventure is trying to escape. Then that ship might be easier to take over, when it's alone, and they would have a ready-made crew (the other slaves).

    Final piece of advice: Go seek out Errol Flynn's movies Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk for examples of small groups stealing ships from great empires that remain credible threats.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I'd suggest playing the empire as originally planned. If the group get away with it, great! If not, rather than have them killed, have the empire take them alive. The Empire wants to make a real example of the PCs to discourage other pirates from trying anything similar - so they will hold the PCs until the next holiday, so the maximum number of people can see their execution.
    The PCs therefore have several days to try to escape from jail to avoid the noose.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    TL;DR: The party wishes to do a near suicidal but immensely cool plan. (despite several warning) Should I let them deal with the difficulties of the plan even if it might kill them all all, and prove anticlimactic, or should I ease things up to allow them success, despite it become unrealistic, and breaking the campaign long feel of the threat?
    To be blunt; "take over one of the caravels of the Empire" is not a plan. It's an idea. A plan is how to do that. Do not downplay it. But do give them oppurtunities for reconnaissance missions, to learn about the caravel and it's crew. Just an out-right attack should have a very high chance of failure, but if they come up with a good plan it should be much easier.
    Also something to consider; if it's dangerous and difficult, succes will be so much sweeter.
    And if they can capture 1 caravel without difficulty, why couldn't they capture a second, a third? If they can get enough crew, they could get whole fleet, and while that is incredibly cool, it also makes things very difficult for you. And why don't other pirates capture caravels?

    I'm for letting your players deal with their own choices, but in the end; it's your game and your players and you know them.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I would let them attack the caravel and then laugh my ass off as they all died. Or maybe suffer a spit-take if they succeeded. In my last marine-themed long campaign, my players were pretty keen on doing on stupid things like this. I never rounded the corners for them - if they wanted to tackle a galleon with 80 troops aboard, they could. They succeeded more often than not due to combination of ingenious tactics and completely out of the left field ideas, and series of lucky rolls that happened to favor them.

    So, detail the caravel and its guards. Set in stone what the PCs are actually facing. Then sit back and see what your players will come up with. Play according to rules and pull no punches. If they put themselves in a position that will kill them all, well, boo-hoo-hoo. Make their last stand dramatic and then roll new characters. Maybe they'll come up with a better plan next time.

    Don't assume anything. Let dice fall where they may, and let the situation become comedy or tragedy under its own weight. Since this sounds like something that will take at least one whole session, once the situation is resolved, call it quits for that day and then think of what you will do with the campaign based on the results.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by caden_varn View Post
    I'd suggest playing the empire as originally planned. If the group get away with it, great! If not, rather than have them killed, have the empire take them alive. The Empire wants to make a real example of the PCs to discourage other pirates from trying anything similar - so they will hold the PCs until the next holiday, so the maximum number of people can see their execution.
    The PCs therefore have several days to try to escape from jail to avoid the noose.
    This is probably what I would do. The Empire will take prisoners if they can, but one or more character deaths is certainly possible. However I would add that they might try to make a deal. Maybe there is a privateer ship that needs a few extra hands. Maybe there is a suicide mission the Empire needs carried out. Maybe these guys have made something of a name for themselves among members of the Empire army, or helped relatives of members, or whatever. A few Marks of Justice can ensure they don't simply skip town.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I second informing them it's not CR-appropriate. Make it clear you won't save them (they can try to save themselves, of course, but you won't rescue them with Fiat or Fudging). Then wash your hands off it and have the crew do everything in their power to kill them (including calling for reinforcements at the first sign of trouble, keeping the anchor down so the PCs can't move the ship, having the masts down because the ship is docked).
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    +1 to frozen feet really.

    They are their characters, and their decisions. If they don't screw up/TPK occasionally then they will never learn anything. They should also have some means of bugging out, but again they need to learn this.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    If you really like their plan, maybe give it a little edge for some extra work?

    For example, maybe one of the motely crew the PCs have taken in knows of an NPC contact somewhere in town who can the party an edge in attaining their ship and if the party is willing to put the extra work into finding this person and gaining their trust, they'll have a much more realistic chance.

    I'm not entirely sure what this NPC could provide the PCs however, are the PCs creating a plan of approach which could use some key components?
    Last edited by Sipex; 2012-10-01 at 10:24 AM.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I have to agree though, if "attack a ship and steal it" is the extent of their plan, it ain't much of a plan and they will (and should) most likely fail.
    If they want to go "off the rails" and take on a much bigger threat, players should have to work for their reward. The worst thing a DM can do in such a situation is to downscale the threat (because if they're not dangerous after all, why are they "The Dangerous Empire"?) or handwave circumstances that just all happen to put everything in the players favour so they succeed at something they should realistically fail at.
    If however, the players actually come up with a good plan (getting patrol schedules, having enough crew ready, maybe one of the petty officers is actually an old friend who'd rather be a pirate, creating a diversion) and other stuff like that, take the appropriate steps to ease the encounter realistically, without removing the challenge factor.
    It should still be difficult, but rewarding the players for taking their time to stop and think is important.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I'm glad I asked the question. From reading the opinions I find myself disliking the advice to help them succeed/ alter the odds for them. I will go with letting them take their (informed) chances.



    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    Is your group one of the groups that's playing a game, in which players can get killed, or or are you telling a story, in which the good guys must always succeed?
    It is the first one. We had 1 or 2 characters die, but never yet the entire group. This is what worries me.

    Quote Originally Posted by caden_varn View Post
    I'd suggest playing the empire as originally planned. If the group get away with it, great! If not, rather than have them killed, have the empire take them alive.
    <snip>
    The PCs therefore have several days to try to escape from jail to avoid the noose.
    The problem is that two were already captured, and put on death row for murdering Empire civilians earlier. But perhaps something on these lines might be arranged. I need to think about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    To be blunt; "take over one of the caravels of the Empire" is not a plan. It's an idea.
    I haven't detailed everything, they have made a basic plan with several stages that they'll need to rectify due to the initial stage (reconnaissance and info gathering). They tend to be thorough, with detailed plans (that sometime go bad). Some have military experience, I expect there will be something quite detailed before they go into it. We'll see if they mess it up halfway as they sometime do...

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Feet View Post
    Don't assume anything. Let dice fall where they may, and let the situation become comedy or tragedy under its own weight. Since this sounds like something that will take at least one whole session, once the situation is resolved, call it quits for that day and then think of what you will do with the campaign based on the results.
    That is good advice. I will go by it.

    Thank you everyone, even if I didn't respond to your post directly. They all helped me come to a better decision.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Driderman View Post
    I have to agree though, if "attack a ship and steal it" is the extent of their plan, it ain't much of a plan and they will (and should) most likely fail.
    I agree. I was assuming that there was more to their plan than 'attack a Caravel' that the OP did not include in his post, but if not - yeah, not so good.
    If that is the case, I'd suggest you start designing the prison/slave galley for the survivors to break out of now...

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    In the interests of making the game fun, you can give them a little advantage, but it must be a reasonable one, and one that is not readily apparent.

    For example, maybe they can learn that the local Imperial Governor is throwing a ball for the officers on a certain night. If they make their move on that night, the officers (With perhaps the exception of one junior officer who drew the short straw) Will be busy hobnobbing it up. If they move fast enough, they can capture the ship before the officers return to lead their men.
    It dosn't make the Empire less threatening, it just means the PC's got lucky this once. This dosn't hand the ship to the PC's, but it makes things remotely possible.

    Also, if they come up with some clever plan (Like, for example, getting some off-duty guards drunk so they can steal uniforms, or taking an important hostage), keep an open mind towards it working.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    To me, the best tactic for you, if they are dead set on doing it, is to tell them how important a plan is.

    If they just want to launch an attack, they should probably die. If they take the time to plan it out, throw 'em a bone and set up a convenient distraction, like the ball BRC mentioned, so they have a good chance. Give them a shot if they think it through.

    Players are like children; punish them when they act dumb, reward them for thinking.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I'm glad you decided to let the chips fall where they may. If they succeed at impossible odds, it'll make for a great story. If they fail, which is much more likely, you successfully established the reputation you were shooting for. Even if future characters weren't there for the beatdown, the players were and won't forget it.

    I just have one piece of advice. If (when) the plan fails, have the imperials capture the PCs. Then go through with the hangings. Actually role-play it. Describe how they go to -10 hit points at the end of the noose. Not to be sadistic or mean spirited, but to really drive home the price of failure and the realistic chance of death. It'll make every success from here on out all the sweeter when they know exactly what is hanging in the balance.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I think they're attracted to te dangerous plan because it's dangerous. Let them go for it and don't shortchange them by scaling it down!

    The only bone I would throw them is the chance to escape if they realize they're in over their heads. And even then only if it made sense.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post

    Perhaps more background is in order:
    Our playrgoup is fairly casual, partly "make the rules as we go", out there for the fun, not scrutinising details. The previous campaign was the classic heroic fantasy ordeal with defying the odds, doing fantastic things and the like.
    I think you may have conditioned your players into believing that taking the ship is the course to take. After all, it seems that you've rewarded this behavior in the past.

    However, if your playgroup does have this attitude, then they still might find a daring, brave, dashing, yet ultimately hopeless TPK fun.

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I hope that they are told it's deadly, try it anyway, and succeed. Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner stole a ship. Captain Blood stole a ship with Jeremy Pitt, Hagthorpe, Ogle and the others.

    If they pull it off, it will be an adventure for them to remember forever.

    But only if you don't scale it down.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Go with whatever is the most fun and makes a better story.

    "Okay, you attack a ship, meet an overwhelming force and die. Should've acted more cautiously!" is not fun. It's boring and will discourage your players from taking cool (but risky) actions in the future.

    "You get circumstantial bonuses for bravado and daring that even the playing field. Eventually the ship is yours." is just as un-fun and boring. What story does beating a group of suddenly weakened opponents make?

    What you should do is - OOCly, tell them this is very risky and they should prepare well. And ICly, make it possible for them to take over the ship. Maybe allow them to get news of the officers' ball as it was mentioned already. Maybe let them create a distraction or otherwise lure a lot of the crew away. Or maybe let them take an entirely different course of action. But whatever you do:

    -Keep your mind open. Don't just pick one solution and wait for the players to stumble upon it - if they think of something on their own, and you like it, allow to make it happen.
    But on the other hand:
    -Don't give them a course of action on a silver platter. Make them work for it, investigate WHAT can they do and then plan HOW to do it. Preparations for the attack on the Empire vessel can be an exciting adventure on its own.
    Last edited by tensai_oni; 2012-10-01 at 08:01 PM.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    The problem is that two were already captured, and put on death row for murdering Empire civilians earlier. But perhaps something on these lines might be arranged. I need to think about it.
    This is not necessarily a problem if the murders were committed in a different part of the empire. If so, unless they are notorious, the chances are that there is no real reason for anyone in a different part of the Empire have any knowledge of their previous criminal record. This does depend on the technology level of the Empire to an extent, but to be honest, even in the modern day I doubt it is that uncommon for a wanted felon from a distant area to be picked up by the local police without them being linked to their previous crimes.
    If the other crimes were local it might be a different matter - however, if they were captured attacking a military ship, chances are that they will be held by the military, at least initially (assuming the empire military and police are separate). In that case they probably won't be recognised straight away as the people who would recognise them are the police.

    If you are more concerned about repeating the jailbreak scenario being a bit dull - well, if that is a problem for the players, they need to stop doing things likely to get themselves arrested...

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    I think if I were running the game, I would make the fight beatable for them and allow them to pull it off.
    Not because they are able to beat the strong defenses of the defenders, but because the target isn't as well guarded as it could be since nobody has ever been so stupid to try such an attack. This time they can pull it off, but then they have to face the retribution that will be much more than they could ever handle.

    If they are pirates and have their own ship and crew, you don't need to kill the PCs to strike back at them hard. Just sink their ship.
    If the empire is so powerful that it doesn't really fear anyone attacking it, they are also powerful enough to find and destroy a random pirate ship without any problems. And then they just leave the PCs floating in the water with the debris.
    I could make a description of how to set it up, but I think one could simply watch the opening scene of Mass Effect 2. Also a great way to introduce a new enemy whom the players will really hate for personal reasons.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by W3bDragon View Post
    How about this for an idea. Fortune favors the bold!

    To further enhance the theme of wily pirates who survive against all odds using wits and a bit of luck, you can grant them an in game bonus based on the daring and originality of their plan.

    Basically, if they manage to wow you with their plan, you tell them. "Your plan is awesome! I give it 4 stars. That translates into a +4 on all skill checks, saves, and attack rolls during the mission." Or you could choose a reroll system where you grant them 4 rerolls or even 4 autosuccesses on any roll they make.

    Whatever bonus you choose, my expectation based on what you describe is that even with the bonus, they would still be put in a very tough, but hopefully now possible, encounter.
    Given that you specify that this is a fairly rules-casual, in-it-for-the-fun group, I'd recommend something like this. (Heck, I love this idea for a swashbuckling game!) Design things to be "difficult-but-beatable," and let the players have their fun.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    the target isn't as well guarded as it could be since nobody has ever been so stupid to try such an attack.
    There was once a guy who tried to shoot his way into the Pentagon unarmored, alone, with nothing but a handgun, in broad daylight. AFAIK, he was killed before he got to the gate, and might have wounded one guy total. You get crazies, extremists, psychopaths, grieving families... There's always somebody that stupid.


    Empires don't get built on "nobody has ever been so stupid...", they get built on making that option suicidal. If the Empire has earned a reputation for invincibility, show it. Let the PCs know who they're dealing with.
    Last edited by Slipperychicken; 2012-10-02 at 08:16 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Emperor Tippy View Post
    By level 20 though, you aren't capturing a wizard. A character lives to level 20 by being the most ruthless, lucky, capable, and paranoid bastard around. A wizard is throwing around a 30+ Int score and has, entirely in character, planned contingencies for his contingencies. He may well be running around with flat out total immunity to harm, he does not walk outside without an entire bevy of defensive magics around him and enough magic items to buy himself a nation.

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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    give them a chance of winning whith a realy good plan, but give them a veary real chance of failure even so... then if they pull it off let them discover that it was at 60% of minnumum crew required due to (run-in with an incredabley powerful piarate or monster/part of crew had to negotiate a treaty or rebuild or defend a town in exchange for supplies/oher reason).

    the result: players can get a ship, a good story, a close-call fight, and the idea of just how powerfull a fully manned and armed vessel is so they are scared of the empire. also, you get a good chance to build the world and slowly work in the piarate/monster/treaty/whatever that can be used much later on when the players start to realize the big picture of what they are involved in.
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    Default Re: DMing dilema- How much should I go towards the players?

    Well, The party have decided to attack the ship, made their plans and acted very, very swiftly. They won the ship! lost 2 PCs though, but all in all it feels like a great accomplishment and the party (even dead ones) are quite happy.

    Not scaling the Empire down was the right choice indeed. Thankkfully the party acted so fast with a resonable plan or that would have been a massacre.

    I wanted to thank all who gave their advice, it did help!

    Way to make it to the most wanted list of the Empire... this would be fun!

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