The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed - Coming in December and available for pre-order now
Page 2 of 16 FirstFirst 123456789101112 ... LastLast
Results 31 to 60 of 479
  1. - Top - End - #31
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Italy
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Besides what everyone else said, I suggest talking with the player to make sure he understands he is the victim of bad dice rolls, which is something that can happen to anyone. And try to make it up for it later, by giving chances to recover what he lost.
    And make sure the player knows he can expect something good to happen.

    I've recently had a similar problem myself, and it seems to have worked.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  2. - Top - End - #32
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Berlin
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    @Talakeal:

    Some things here strike me as a bit odd.

    Ok, normally, you use a random encounter table as part of a hex crawl with a simulations mindset, meaning that you model the contents of the tables around the environment that you want to populate by using the table. For example, when you have a rough idea that the mountain range is orc and giant territory, that, along the other creatures and hazards, is your starting point for the table. That should be rather independent of the level and EXP values (google Gygaxian Naturalism).

    A hex crawl is more based around exploration than it is around combat. Player agency and options are the key here. So the second important part is the environment table, to help figure out environmental effects, starting positions, visions, initial reactions and so on. Unless the encounter is hidden or they fail to spot it, that gives the players the chance to decide on how they want to handle it, from fleeing, sneaking around it, trying to tackle it head on or prepare an ambush for it.

    This also includes the agency to miscalculate, get in over their heads and fail. You should not try to shield your players from the consequences of their choices (unless you try for a fail forward approach)

    I generally advise against total randomization of the content when it comes to exploration-based games. It´s always preferable to install some fixed and known "hubs" with known merchants, traders, inns, and magical services like healing or de-cursing. It´s also preferable to install minor and major landmarks of the wilderness beforehand and spread at least some fixed knowledge about that stuff around the "hubs".

    As for your player: I assume that you have created all pregens along the same parameters, so same point buy, same min and max attributes and such? I will tell this to the player straight and point out that you refuse his request to rebuild because that kind of min-maxing is pretty unfair towards your other two players.

  3. - Top - End - #33
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Akron, Ohio

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Well, this is the type of game I enjoy, give or take, so I'm looking at this in a fairly favorable light.

    While the upset player is a victim of poor dice rolls, it should be said that the dice rolls don't actually have to dictate anything at your table. Generally when I run a hexcrawl with random encounters, my tables aren't all that large to offer a more specialized set of events and encounters for the given area, and my players have gotten used to the fact that things the look like combat will be very hard to deal with in a straight fight.

    And if I don't think a result I rolled fits the ark of the game, I just pick a different one or roll again. It's obvious to my players when I do this, and it usually means something interesting for them, so they don't mind.

    In your case it seems like you value the character's lives quite a bit. Which is admirable, in a way, but if all they lose from getting gunned down by a revenant is their gold, then I'd be very hard pressed to explain why. In my hexcrawls I typically give the characters a chance to pick up something debilitating and permanent or go into normal death saves twice before it goes to death saves/instant death. This way, they have a better chance of living through the fight (except on TPK's), and they have a new sidequest if they want to deal with their problems.

    This whole mechanic is explained in detail before the game, and is the end of much trial and error between me and another GM friend, so I think we hit a good balance of Murder/Worse Than Murder for any given terrifying encounter.

    I also usually don't take away gold or items, mostly because I assume they aren't carrying all the money they own on their person and that there's not a good way of doing so that can't be either overlooked or overreacted to. Surprisingly, people tend to have a more steady reaction to permanent/ongoing character maladies/issues than material loss.

    For the minmaxing bit, was there any option that could conceivably give them more optimized scores that other people had access to? If so, let him and watch him perish due to his inability to understand what strength and dexterity are for. If not, then no, he's not special.

    And for the healer, adding a permanent fixture to the world/town they're in if perfectly fine. It would have been better if they had half an idea they were there BEFORE the one thing they can help with, as I can see someone thinking it was a bit cheap. But there's no helping that one, I guess, and if they're there going forward (until they're compromised by their own story) then I don't see a reason to be too upset.

  4. - Top - End - #34
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    A place near Boulder.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    @Talakeal:

    Some things here strike me as a bit odd.

    Ok, normally, you use a random encounter table as part of a hex crawl with a simulations mindset, meaning that you model the contents of the tables around the environment that you want to populate by using the table. For example, when you have a rough idea that the mountain range is orc and giant territory, that, along the other creatures and hazards, is your starting point for the table. That should be rather independent of the level and EXP values (google Gygaxian Naturalism).

    A hex crawl is more based around exploration than it is around combat. Player agency and options are the key here. So the second important part is the environment table, to help figure out environmental effects, starting positions, visions, initial reactions and so on. Unless the encounter is hidden or they fail to spot it, that gives the players the chance to decide on how they want to handle it, from fleeing, sneaking around it, trying to tackle it head on or prepare an ambush for it.

    This also includes the agency to miscalculate, get in over their heads and fail. You should not try to shield your players from the consequences of their choices (unless you try for a fail forward approach)

    I generally advise against total randomization of the content when it comes to exploration-based games. It´s always preferable to install some fixed and known "hubs" with known merchants, traders, inns, and magical services like healing or de-cursing. It´s also preferable to install minor and major landmarks of the wilderness beforehand and spread at least some fixed knowledge about that stuff around the "hubs".

    As for your player: I assume that you have created all pregens along the same parameters, so same point buy, same min and max attributes and such? I will tell this to the player straight and point out that you refuse his request to rebuild because that kind of min-maxing is pretty unfair towards your other two players.
    That is all exactly how I do it.

    Yes, all of the pregens were created using the same parameters. It seems like the problem with the system the player had (aside from the emotional impact of the DM acting as a middle man between him and the numbers) was that the system didn't allow players to start with extremely high or extremely low stats.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  5. - Top - End - #35
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Akron, Ohio

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Yes, all of the pregens were created using the same parameters. It seems like the problem with the system the player had (aside from the emotional impact of the DM acting as a middle man between him and the numbers) was that the system didn't allow players to start with extremely high or extremely low stats.
    Well, boo hoo for them. You've got a decent system going. It may have some things that need to be tweaked, but if no one else has an issue with that part, that's not one of them.

  6. - Top - End - #36
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Berlin
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That is all exactly how I do it.

    Yes, all of the pregens were created using the same parameters. It seems like the problem with the system the player had (aside from the emotional impact of the DM acting as a middle man between him and the numbers) was that the system didn't allow players to start with extremely high or extremely low stats.
    I´m not so sure yet.

    See, a problem with contemporary gaming culture is that players often haven't learned to deal with loss or setback, even if they are just a temporary thing. We have some of these in the scenario you described. A common reaction is to try and either reduce the ante or hedge your bets to the point that you have the right "get out of jail free card" in hand when it matters, despite what the ability to do so will cost you, you'll find other ways around to shore up that weakness.

    I find the actual choices telling: Raising CON for more staying power and CHA for more magical options, or rather, depending on the system, solutions.

    You're already playing for a month now, so multiple sessions, a review of situations that already have gone "wrong" for that particular player would be interesting and quite telling. It would also be not uninteresting to ask that particular place whether he has the concrete feeling that the odds are stacked against him.

  7. - Top - End - #37
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That is all exactly how I do it.

    Yes, all of the pregens were created using the same parameters. It seems like the problem with the system the player had (aside from the emotional impact of the DM acting as a middle man between him and the numbers) was that the system didn't allow players to start with extremely high or extremely low stats.
    So, does the player have a reason to feel that the NPCs are using more "favorable" rules, especially so that the GM's pet NPC can be "better" than them?

    Because, really, that's what I hear when someone says the PCs can't start with an "18" in a D&D-style game.

    "Boring samey" is what I hear when someone says no stats under 8. But, then, that's point buy for you. I cut my teeth on rolled stats.

    Really, there's but so many character concepts that need stats below an 8. And I doubt that the player in question really has a concept (beyond min-maxing) that actually requires a 3 in both Strength and Dex.

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    A place near Boulder.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    So, does the player have a reason to feel that the NPCs are using more "favorable" rules, especially so that the GM's pet NPC can be "better" than them?

    Because, really, that's what I hear when someone says the PCs can't start with an "18" in a D&D-style game.

    "Boring samey" is what I hear when someone says no stats under 8. But, then, that's point buy for you. I cut my teeth on rolled stats.

    Really, there's but so many character concepts that need stats below an 8. And I doubt that the player in question really has a concept (beyond min-maxing) that actually requires a 3 in both Strength and Dex.
    Iirc there are no NPCs with maximum stats in the campaign. But then again I dont really have any NPCs with stats at all, this isnt the type of campaign where the plot depends on NPC actions with an overarching BBEG or mentors to drag the plot along, most NPCs are just merchants and the like where having an interesting person for the PCs to talk to while they shop is the best they can hope for.

    Mechanically the idea is so that A: the PCs have room to grow and B: so that they dont utterly screw themselves over by creating wacky imbalanced characters.

    Out of curiosity, why does having an nine point range of stats seem boring and samey but 16 points doesnt? Is it really that big a difference? Especially when most people are going to have stats outrisde of that range anyway? 3d6 has a pretty strong bell curve after all.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  9. - Top - End - #39
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Out of curiosity, why does having an nine point range of stats seem boring and samey but 16 points doesnt? Is it really that big a difference? Especially when most people are going to have stats outrisde of that range anyway? 3d6 has a pretty strong bell curve after all.
    It's not the size of the range - it's the explicit removal of part of the range. It's saying, "this range of characters is acceptable, that range is not". The pH has, what, 11 base classes? What if I wrote them down on index cards, then drew 6, and said that these 6 were valid for this game, the other 5 don't even exist in the world? It's an arbitrary limitation - one that might make for interesting gameplay and world-building, or might limit players' options needlessly.

    Saying "nothing below an 8" smells suspiciously like "no flaws", which itself smells suspiciously like "we must all play perfect Determinates". Which, obviously, is not something I'd expect of you (and you even have explicit flaws in your system), but it is something I'd expect you to understand.

    -----

    Oh, and in case you can't tell - I've been trying to give you the least benefit of the doubt, to cover any misunderstandings your players might have. But most of your responses sounded reasonable, so it seems "conversation with the player" is, as usual, the best option.

  10. - Top - End - #40
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    A place near Boulder.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    I have no problem with player flaws, I quite like them actually, I just orefer them to be based on character concept rather than min-maxxing.

    Generally, people with super low attributes are not really suitable for the adventuring life style, with a few rare exceptions. Of course, now I am questionjng why, if that is the case, why they are in the game at all.

    Thank you Quertus, you have given me a lot to think about!
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  11. - Top - End - #41
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Berlin
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    This is a social game, which can turn competitive if all participants want to, which is not a given.

    I think you've actually mentioned a very important concept right there: What is the game and why are you in it (by way of character)?

  12. - Top - End - #42
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Generally, people with super low attributes are not really suitable for the adventuring life style, with a few rare exceptions. Of course, now I am questionjng why, if that is the case, why they are in the game at all.

    Thank you Quertus, you have given me a lot to think about!
    Glad to help.

    Quertus, my signature academia mage, for whom this account is named, is, statistically, quite powerful, but is not psychologically suited for adventuring.

    Armus is not statistically suited for taking more than a 5' step from a hospital, but is psychologically quite suited to be an adventurer.

    Crystal was on a quest to find her father, and would do so, come hell or high water, despite initially being quite unsuited to be an adventurer.

    Really, I'd argue that I probably enjoy playing characters who are unsuited for their role *in specific ways* - that perhaps how characters deal with specific types of being unsuited for their role is something that I enjoy Exploring.

  13. - Top - End - #43
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    A place near Boulder.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    So update for y'all: We played again and things are not going well.

    First, I decided to remove the mishaps table and just have the party as a whole lose half of the treasure* they have already found in the current session and I decided to make it retroactive.


    Second, player B has not given up on wanting to min-max his character and has actually doubled down on it, now also wanting to drop his INT and raise his WIS so he basically has all 3s and 18s. He also wants to trade out any skills and feats that aren't directly relating to spellcasting.


    Ok, so the actual adventure:

    The players found out that there was a cave of trolls that was periodically kidnapping and eating travelers along a road and they went to stop it. They decided to parlay with the trolls, and basically said "You need to leave the region or we will kill you," to which the trolls basically said "I would like to see you try!".

    At this point the players got pissed and said I was railroading them, that I should at least let them make a diplomacy check. I said that they were welcome to deal with the trolls, they just needed to offer the trolls something. The trolls have no reason to believe that 5 humans can actually take 14 trolls in a fight. So then the players decided to change their tactics.


    A little backstory here, the previous adventure had them clear out a dungeon in a mountain, and they defeated everything inside except a warren of kobolds and a tribe of dragonborn. The kobolds simply had too many tunnels in their warrens that made attempting to clear them out not worth it, while the dragonborn had been approached with the PCs and actually forged an alliance with them, allowing the PCs to rest and recuperate in their village and fighting with them to kill some of the bigger monsters in the dungeon.


    Well, the PCs said that there was another dungeon that they had already cleared out, which would give the trolls much more room to live and land to plunder, but it was further away from human trade routes so the trolls wouldn't be a danger to their people anymore. The trolls asked if it was undefended, and the PCs said it was empty except for a group of "lizard men". The trolls asked if the PCs would help them clear out the lizard men, and the PCs agreed.

    The PCs were then brought to the troll shaman, who cast a few auguries to verify that the PCs were telling the truth. They were, so I allowed the PCs to make a diplomacy roll, which they passed, however the troll shaman made both groups swear a magical oath of alliance. The effect was, basically, that any damage inflicted by the trolls against the PCs, or vice versa, would also be reflected onto their attacker.


    So, the PCs and the trolls went back to the previous dungeon. They wiped out the kobolds first and then the trolls wanted to kill the dragonborn. The PCs said no, the dragonborn are their friends, and that by "lizard men," they had meant the kobolds. The trolls then grew angry, stating that the PCs had tricked them, that trolls cannot live in kobold warrens, and that there was not enough food to feed the tribe of trolls and the dragonborn. The PCs remained non-comital.

    Eventually the dragonborn and the trolls came into conflict, as there simply was not enough food or space for both groups to survive, and when the dragonborn drew first blood (seeing the trolls as invaders) the PCs decided to help the trolls wipe out the dragonborn. Several of the PCs even went so far as to help the trolls massacre the dragonborn village and kill and eat their children.

    Now, I thought this very dark for the PCs, but I didn't say anything. Everyone in the party is some form of neutral, and I am not a DM who polices alignment.

    Then the PCs said that next session they were going to find a way to break the magical oath, return to the dungeon, and wipe out the trolls.

    At which point I asked the players why, if they were just intending to kill the trolls anyway, they had gone through with this whole scheme, at which point they said that they felt like using diplomacy and I told them that they needed leverage, and since the trolls didn't clearly tell the PCs what they wanted, the PCs just said the first thing that came to their mind.


    So, we had an OOC conversation after the game about expectations and motives, and this is what I came away with:

    The PCs don't have any long term goals or objectives for their characters or any real drive. They don't want to defend or conquer their homelands, they don't want to be heroes or villains, they aren't trying to unravel any great mystery. They are simply wandering around killing and looting stuff and hoping I will give them adventure hooks.... which doesn't really work in a hex-crawl / sandbox campaign.

    Second, the players think that it is perfectly reasonable to simply go up to monsters, roll a diplomacy check, and say "Give us your treasure and / or stop being evil or we will kill you!" Which, to me, would make for a very boring game, and also one that is incredibly unrealistic as, in theory, without plot armor and the element of surprise the PCs are usually going to be the underdogs.


    Any thoughts?
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  14. - Top - End - #44
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2013

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    If the players want to be murderhobos, a hex crawl is a good format IMO.

    Diplomacy isn't magic, I'm guessing the PCs aren't happy for monsters to make Diplomacy checks against them and just hand over all their sweet lootz if they roll well. It's reasonable to make them come up with some kind of leverage to get anything substantial out of a negotiation. If you want a free beer or a minor fee waived, fine make a Diplomacy roll, I don't care. If you want the entire inn, you're going to have to come up with a compelling reason.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

  15. - Top - End - #45
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Any thoughts?
    So, your players are your standard Bizarro land fair.

    Well, I don't think "hex crawl" and "murder-hoboing" are incompatible.

    I do think that you may want to write explicit diplomacy rules for your homebrew for players stupid enough to believe that "give me all your money" is a valid diplomacy tactic. That having been said, I think you need some explicit intimidation rules, for when "give me all your money" is a valid intimidation tactic.

    Also, you should run a 1-shot, where the one player is allowed to run his min-maxed 3/18 character. Of course, this, plus their recent adventures, means you should consider how you intend to cope with the "seriousness" mismatch at this table.

    Lastly, you need to find and close the portal to Bizarro world. Add it to your quest log.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-12-16 at 06:48 PM.

  16. - Top - End - #46
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Berlin
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Any thoughts?
    Yeah. Broadly speaking, cases of mismatches in playing styles and expectations can rarely be solved. You want Witcher, they want Diablo. There's no real solution there, as neither side really is right or wrong when it comes to preferences of taste.

    Possible ways to go at it:
    - Either crank up the quality of your game even more, to impress your players into accepting and adapting to your preferred style.
    - Try to create a scenario that will cater to the wants of the players. You will have to find out two thing: Could you still have fun as GM when adapting to their style. The other thing is not unimportant, as it is quite common for people to wish for things that will mage then happy or even unhappier when they get am, in this case, the game they think they prefer.
    - One of the advantages of running a hex crawl is the ability to rotate GMs. Try that.

  17. - Top - End - #47
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2010

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    I'd say tell Player B to get bent.

    Not sure what's good advice for the rest of your merry band of murderhoboes. At least they are talking to things... if only to con them. Do they like outwitting enemies? Consider having them get snarled up in a continent-wide conspiracy, requiring a LOT of Travel and Treachery.

    (And now I have the name for my first OSR game.)
    Imagine if all real-world conversations were like internet D&D conversations...
    Protip: DnD is an incredibly social game played by some of the most socially inept people on the planet - Lev
    I read this somewhere and I stick to it: "I would rather play a bad system with my friends than a great system with nobody". - Trevlac
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelb_Panthera View Post
    That said, trolling is entirely counterproductive (yes, even when it's hilarious).

  18. - Top - End - #48
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2012

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    You've already set up a game where "dying" leads to half of your treasure randomly disappearing for some reason. You've already turned the game into a MMO/Soft Core Diablo style thing, and you're surprised they're not taking it seriously?

    Which isn't necessarily to say that they'd suddenly turn into good players if the game made some sort of actual sense. But it at least seems slightly more likely. The rest of the solution is probably "find better players".

  19. - Top - End - #49
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    A place near Boulder.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    You've already set up a game where "dying" leads to half of your treasure randomly disappearing for some reason. You've already turned the game into a MMO/Soft Core Diablo style thing, and you're surprised they're not taking it seriously?

    Which isn't necessarily to say that they'd suddenly turn into good players if the game made some sort of actual sense. But it at least seems slightly more likely. The rest of the solution is probably "find better players".
    Are you actually saying that an overly gamist and / or abstracted and / or disassociated mechanic makes people take the narrative less seriously?

    Because I have seen a lot of hatred towards overly gamist systems in the various edition wars that have plagued the forums over the years, but that is a new one on me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Yeah. Broadly speaking, cases of mismatches in playing styles and expectations can rarely be solved. You want Witcher, they want Diablo. There's no real solution there, as neither side really is right or wrong when it comes to preferences of taste.
    I am not actually that familiar with the Witcher. Would you mind extrapolating a little?

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Well, I don't think "hex crawl" and "murder-hoboing" are incompatible.

    I do think that you may want to write explicit diplomacy rules for your homebrew for players stupid enough to believe that "give me all your money" is a valid diplomacy tactic. That having been said, I think you need some explicit intimidation rules, for when "give me all your money" is a valid intimidation tactic.
    I am perfectly fine with murder hoboing. It is the randomly and inconsistently wanting to use diplomacy or handle things ethically that is confusing me. If they just wanted to kill everything and take its stuff I could understand it, but the running around conflicted and confused is really stressing me out.


    Also, I do have pretty explicit diplomacy rules, including modifiers based on how outlandish the request it. The problem is that they believed their request to be perfectly reasonable and felt that I was arbitrarily shutting them down.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2018-12-17 at 08:33 AM.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  20. - Top - End - #50
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Berlin
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    @Talakeal:

    This is more based on how the abstraction is executed. For example, more traditional gaming system have a known dysfunction: On the one hand, they try to create suspense by the inclusion of failure and death, on the other hand, the overall goal to play adventures from start to finish, which can´t really happen when we have a game over state. A less invasive solution is the inclusion of mechanics like Fate points (Dark Heresy, etc.) or Edge (Shadowrun).

    Diablo is a straight-forward example for a style of gaming when the players are firmly in control. The system that is used "empower" their action and choices, by building their characters, they have all the "buttons" and they can expect the outcome when smashing them.

    Witcher is a way more grounded affair. Every being there has motivations, desires, fears and situations, conflicts and solutions work based on the interaction between the participants. Gerald, the protagonist, is a professional monster hunter, but each monster is also treated like a person and the interaction here is not so clear black and white.

  21. - Top - End - #51
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Are you actually saying that an overly gamist and / or abstracted and / or disassociated mechanic makes people take the narrative less seriously?

    Because I have seen a lot of hatred towards overly gamist systems in the various edition wars that have plagued the forums over the years, but that is a new one on me.

    I am perfectly fine with murder hoboing. It is the randomly and inconsistently wanting to use diplomacy or handle things ethically that is confusing me. If they just wanted to kill everything and take its stuff I could understand it, but the running around conflicted and confused is really stressing me out.

    Also, I do have pretty explicit diplomacy rules, including modifiers based on how outlandish the request it. The problem is that they believed their request to be perfectly reasonable and felt that I was arbitrarily shutting them down.
    I mean, I personally tend to take more Gamist games less seriously. Or, well, you know, to treat them as more of a game.

    Players want to help you test out your system, by finding excuses to poke at all the buttons, and give you feedback. What could possibly be confusing about having good testers?

    If your PCs' morality causes you stress, Armus might well have hospitalized you. His own unique morality was one of the points of playing him.

    "What the GM believes is reasonable" is not an explicit rule, it's a call to the "read the GM's mind" minigame. While I may agree with you in this instance, imagine what would happen if a Bizarro worlder picked up your system and started GMing it for you. Making the system still function as you expect in that scenario is what I mean by an explicit rule.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-12-17 at 09:17 AM.

  22. - Top - End - #52
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post

    Second, player B has not given up on wanting to min-max his character and has actually doubled down on it, now also wanting to drop his INT and raise his WIS so he basically has all 3s and 18s. He also wants to trade out any skills and feats that aren't directly relating to spellcasting.
    ----------
    So, we had an OOC conversation after the game about expectations and motives, and this is what I came away with:

    Any thoughts?
    A lot of...

    First of all, your predicament seems to be that you have stupid players. If what you wrote is moderately close to the truth of what happened, I'd be aghast if players of mine weren't able to grasp the basic fundamentals of negotiations.

    Second, you should have had a session 0, specifically asking what the players expect from the game and inserting motivations and goals for the characters in question to help you understand what drives them and how you can handle them. You started with big hopes and tried introducing new players to a nice hobby, and while some of the things you had in your game are certainly bad ideas (harms table) you as a GM to me seem to be able to take critique and turn the game into a better one.

    Furthermore, if you are about just as able to clearly communicate your ideas about the game in person as you are in writing on these forums, I can't rationalize why Player B ( the sorceror?) doesn't understand why it would be really really really bad to play a mentally and physically handicapped adventurer. Did you explain to him that a 3 is a barely human mind or that you are so clumsy, every mealtime is playing knife with mr. Scythe?

    Which is doubly troubling as when you created characters for your players, asking them not only what vlass they would play, but also presenting the basic world premise and what your players would like to do in that world doesn't seem to be that much overhead. Not trying to understand your players is a no-go. Not informing your players about the basic premise of the game is a no-go. ( not saying you did squat all, i don't know. But in my experience doing those zhings saved me a lot of pain in my 20 years of GM).

    So if all they want is loot and kill, you should basically only have a random encounter table, throw the hexcrawl map away and GM one encounter after the other for them, letting them fullfill their (obviously prelevalent) gory fantasies. Throw in babies they can eat, rabbit bunnies to step on and flowers they can forget to water. Let them join forces with demons, because they seem to like the chaotic evil fuggery theiy are on about.

    You can even let doofus mcdoof (the minmaxer) have his retarded spellcasting prodigy, at this point i PERSOANLLY in your position wouldn't care about this game anYmore.

    A) walk away and screw this. Nuclear option. I really can't see getting much enjoyment as a GM out of a group of unptincipled mass murderers who don't even understand how skills work.
    B) session 0 actively happening now. Expectation management. You as well as your players need to define what game it is you're actually playing and what their problems with getting into their roles are. Because if ALL players think like that, good heavens. Usually it's only one or two players dragging down the standards and the rest either doesn't care and let's it happen or feel the game is not worth caring about anymore. Both things can be fixed by a healthy expectation management.

    In any case, something needs to happen to protect either side's sanity because you as a group don't seem to play the same game.
    Last edited by Angelmaker; 2018-12-17 at 07:08 PM.

  23. - Top - End - #53
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Talakeal's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    A place near Boulder.
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    I think I need to clarify the TPK / damage system:

    Hit Points do not represent just injury, but rather a combination of wounds, fatigue, pain, morale, and even combat momentum. A character who has reached zero hit points is simply not able to muster the will to continue fighting.

    If the entire group is out of HP the entire group has lost the will to fight and must either surrender or retreat (or choose to go down in a last stand).

    After being routed they will lose half of their treasure. It isn't "disappearing for no reason," rather it is lost because of some combination of the following:

    -They have to abandon their baggage train, which includes most of their treasure, while fleeing
    -They are taken prisoner and robbed and / or ransomed by their captors
    -They must replace or repair gear that was lost or damaged in the battle or the ensuing flight
    -They must pay the costs to resupply their failed expedition, buying new food, ammunition, equipment, and hirelings to regroup when they continue

    Maybe my players would react better if I explained it to them in more detail? Although, honestly, they didn't have a problem with the concept of mishaps, just that the results of the table were not equally debilitating for all players, and when I asked the two experienced players if they felt that overly gamist downtime systems were causing them to take the narrative less seriously they told me that they had never even considered such a thing, so maybe not.


    Now, as for the original mishap table, it was an idea I had been wanting to try out for a while.

    Basically I was reading some OSR blog (Maybe Monsters and Manuals?) where he said that he was running an open table in a very specific time window and needed to wrap up each adventure at a set point, he couldn't simply pause the action until the next week as the players might not show up again for half a dozen sessions.
    So he borrowed a rule from an old game where everyone was a fighter pilot. The game was about a group of pilots going on missions together, not about a lone man trying to escape enemy territory on foot, so if your plane was shot down over enemy territory you sat out the rest of the mission and then rolled on a table to see what happened to your pilot, who could be killed, injured, captured, demoted, shell-shocked, get away scot-free, etc.
    He decided to refluff that able to a fantasy setting and have anyone who remained in the dungeon at the end of the session roll on the table to see what happened to them while they made their way back to town "off camera".

    It sounded like a really neat idea to me; while I didn't have the problem of having to end the session at a said time I was looking for a way to "punish" the players for playing recklessly or overextending themselves without also risking ending the entire campaign based on a single bad dice roll or mistake. To me it seemed like a really elegant solution.


    On a wider note, I don't know why people don't like "mini-games" during downtime. I have always really enjoyed them, for example in the Games Workshop skirmish games (Necromunda, Mordheim, LoTR Battle Companies, etc.) there are always a series of minigames and tables which you use to represent your downtime activities between battles, and I always had a blast with them, sometimes more fun than the actual battles truth be told. However, anytime I have tried to implement them in an RPG they have been met with a cold reception from my play-testers and downright hostility from internet forums.

    I wonder why that is? Maybe its a topic for another thread?



    Quote Originally Posted by Angelmaker View Post
    A lot of...

    First of all, your predicament seems to be that you have stupid players. If what you wrote is moderately close to the truth of what happened, I'd be aghast if players of mine weren't able to grasp the basic fundamentals of negotiations.

    Second, you should have had a session 0, specifically asking what the players expect from the game and inserting motivations and goals for the characters in question to help you understand what drives them and how you can handle them. You started with big hopes and tried introducing new players to a nice hobby, and while some of the things you had in your game are certainly bad ideas (harms table) you as a GM to me seem to be able to take critique and turn the game into a better one.

    Furthermore, if you are about just as able to clearly communicate your ideas about the game in person as you are in writing on these forums, I can't rationalize why Player B ( the sorceror?) doesn't understand why it would be really really really bad to play a mentally and physically handicapped adventurer. Did you explain to him that a 3 is a barely human mind or that you are so clumsy, every mealtime is playing knife with mr. Scythe?

    Which is doubly troubling as when you created characters for your players, asking them not only what vlass they would play, but also presenting the basic world premise and what your players would like to do in that world doesn't seem to be that much overhead. Not trying to understand your players is a no-go. Not informing your players about the basic premise of the game is a no-go. ( not saying you did squat all, i don't know. But in my experience doing those zhings saved me a lot of pain in my 20 years of GM).

    So if all they want is loot and kill, you should basically only have a random encounter table, throw the hexcrawl map away and GM one encounter after the other for them, letting them fullfill their (obviously prelevalent) gory fantasies. Throw in babies they can eat, rabbit bunnies to step on and flowers they can forget to water. Let them join forces with demons, because they seem to like the chaotic evil fuggery theiy are on about.

    You can even let doofus mcdoof (the minmaxer) have his retarded spellcasting prodigy, at this point i PERSOANLLY in your position wouldn't care about this game anYmore.

    A) walk away and screw this. Nuclear option. I really can't see getting much enjoyment as a GM out of a group of unptincipled mass murderers who don't even understand how skills work.
    B) session 0 actively happening now. Expectation management. You as well as your players need to define what game it is you're actually playing and what their problems with getting into their roles are. Because if ALL players think like that, good heavens. Usually it's only one or two players dragging down the standards and the rest either doesn't care and let's it happen or feel the game is not worth caring about anymore. Both things can be fixed by a healthy expectation management.

    In any case, something needs to happen to protect either side's sanity because you as a group don't seem to play the same game.
    I am not sure that I would call them stupid. Basically, three players are new and are just going along with the group not really confident enough to rock the boat. Of the two experienced players one is a power gaming min-maxxer who doesn't really care about the fluffy elements of the game. The other has such a strong social phobia that he wants dealing NPCs to boil down to him telling me what he wants from them and then me giving him a DC for a charisma check, and if I ask him either what he is offering in return or what approach he is taking he panics and begins to verbally flail around and say the first thing that comes to his mind.

    Player B is a classic power gamer. He wants to play the most powerful character possible, fluff be damned. This is the same player who, several years ago, played a character who was so weak she couldn't move under the weight of her own gear and was mad that I wouldn't let the fighter give her a piggyback ride in combat because there was no rule against it.

    He is also rather stubborn, and I am sure that if I let him make such a character anytime it doesn't work out the way he hopes he will just assumed that I am going out of my way to target him and prove him wrong.


    Yeah, I really guess I should have placed more emphasis on coming up with party goals during our session zero. We did a pretty good job coming up with personalities and backgrounds, but in hindsight we should have spent more time on motivations and expectations. Maybe we will have a talk about that before or after the next session.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    I mean, I personally tend to take more Gamist games less seriously. Or, well, you know, to treat them as more of a game.

    Players want to help you test out your system, by finding excuses to poke at all the buttons, and give you feedback. What could possibly be confusing about having good testers?

    If your PCs' morality causes you stress, Armus might well have hospitalized you. His own unique morality was one of the points of playing him.

    "What the GM believes is reasonable" is not an explicit rule, it's a call to the "read the GM's mind" minigame. While I may agree with you in this instance, imagine what would happen if a Bizarro worlder picked up your system and started GMing it for you. Making the system still function as you expect in that scenario is what I mean by an explicit rule.
    For me, unless the game mechanics are actively working against the fiction, I tend to treat all games with pretty much the same level of narrative immersion unless they are abstract they don't have a narrative at all (like Uno or something).

    This is not a playtest. This is just a regular campaign for fun.

    Its not really that my PCs morality is stressing me out, its that there random and contradictory actions are wasting everyone's time (for example doing a quest to for no reward other than to earn someone's favor and then immediately turning around and killing their ally) and, I suspect, killing their immersion and long term interest in the game as they don't have a consistent character to play or goal to work towards.

    I don't know if I would ever want to play a game where the GM had no leeway in interpreting what category of challenge various tasks fall under. It would be unnecessarily restrictive, produce bizarro land results of its own, and they write-up for each skill would be the size of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    @Talakeal:

    This is more based on how the abstraction is executed. For example, more traditional gaming system have a known dysfunction: On the one hand, they try to create suspense by the inclusion of failure and death, on the other hand, the overall goal to play adventures from start to finish, which can´t really happen when we have a game over state. A less invasive solution is the inclusion of mechanics like Fate points (Dark Heresy, etc.) or Edge (Shadowrun).

    Diablo is a straight-forward example for a style of gaming when the players are firmly in control. The system that is used "empower" their action and choices, by building their characters, they have all the "buttons" and they can expect the outcome when smashing them.

    Witcher is a way more grounded affair. Every being there has motivations, desires, fears and situations, conflicts and solutions work based on the interaction between the participants. Gerald, the protagonist, is a professional monster hunter, but each monster is also treated like a person and the interaction here is not so clear black and white.
    Huh. I had a friend in high school who called it "the veil," the illusion that the DM wants to kill the PCs when in truth the DM wants the PCs to succeed. He claimed that anything that allows him to see behind the veil ruined the game him, so I guess this could be more of the same. He needed the illusion of overcoming an all powerful killer DM to make the game fun for him.


    Yeah, I suppose that Diablo / Witcher comparison is indeed a fairly apt one.




    Edit: Found the blog post I mentioned earlier. Here.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2018-12-17 at 08:29 PM.
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

  24. - Top - End - #54
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2007

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I am not sure that I would call them stupid. Basically, three players are new and are just going along with the group not really confident enough to rock the boat. Of the two experienced players one is a power gaming min-maxxer who doesn't really care about the fluffy elements of the game. The other has such a strong social phobia that he wants dealing NPCs to boil down to him telling me what he wants from them and then me giving him a DC for a charisma check, and if I ask him either what he is offering in return or what approach he is taking he panics and begins to verbally flail around and say the first thing that comes to his mind.

    Player B is a classic power gamer. He wants to play the most powerful character possible, fluff be damned. This is the same player who, several years ago, played a character who was so weak she couldn't move under the weight of her own gear and was mad that I wouldn't let the fighter give her a piggyback ride in combat because there was no rule against it.

    He is also rather stubborn, and I am sure that if I let him make such a character anytime it doesn't work out the way he hopes he will just assumed that I am going out of my way to target him and prove him wrong.


    Yeah, I really guess I should have placed more emphasis on coming up with party goals during our session zero. We did a pretty good job coming up with personalities and backgrounds, but in hindsight we should have spent more time on motivations and expectations. Maybe we will have a talk about that before or after the next session.
    I see were you're coming from and I like that you stick up for them. But i still feel there's a huge gap between abstracting the diplomacy to a numbers game and failing to understand that you're tying to bargain with your pants down. Let's drop the "stupid" (that was kind of uncalled for, so I want to apologize) and call it "unreasonably optimistic expectations".

    Regarding mr munchkin mcmunch: why don't you select monsters with a stat of 3 (i guess some intelligent animals like dogs could be there?) and show the statblocks to him. That should drive the point home, that playing a wis 3 based character is just... Having "unreasonably optimistic expectations" of what a 3 in a stat means?

    Also how do you abstract constitution 18 from a strenght of 3? What would that even look like? Like raistlin and conan the barbarian had a lovechild?

    Anyway, I think you're right and simply not letting him create a character like that is for the good of all.

    I feel you need to show some tough love and drive some points home. I know I would never have your patience and I even have a player in my weekly campaign who is diagnosed with attention deficit and minor tourette.

  25. - Top - End - #55
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Min maxing is a problem, always has been always will be. However IMO it has been exacerbated by computer rpgs where other party members automatically pick up the slack, and the P part of the PC gives the C more INT and WIS than the player sheet.

    Some ways of dealing with it that I’ve seen:
    - Putting players into situations where they have to individually roll checks and bad stuff only happens to players that fail the roll.
    - have low INT/WIS players accidentally set off traps/alert guards because “I wonder what this button does”. If the player objects make them take a test against their “3” stat.
    - split the party and put all the low min statted players together and have to overcome a min stat problem.
    - have a session that has no problems solvable by max stat.
    - have them break stuff because min stat is so low. “The shelf of potions falls down, everyone gets one chance to catch a potion. Roll a dexterity check, oops you dropped your potion and it smashes on the floor”.

    I make things like disengaging a target or changing weapons a skill check if players have dropped their stat to superlow. If they want to give advise to other players about combat positioning it’s a int/wis check to see if the character can (a) generate the idea and (2) communicate the idea.
    If a player has minned CHA I will apply their modifier as a penalty to the PC who is the face as the NPC wants nothing to do with the super-ugly/obnoxious dude with the CHA 3.

    Long story short, make the player painfully aware of the effects the character’s minned stats has on the story.
    Last edited by Pauly; 2018-12-18 at 12:16 AM.

  26. - Top - End - #56
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2017

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
    Min maxing is a problem, always has been always will be. However IMO it has been exacerbated by computer rpgs where other party members automatically pick up the slack, and the P part of the PC gives the C more INT and WIS than the player sheet.

    Some ways of dealing with it that I’ve seen:
    [...]
    Long story short, make the player painfully aware of the effects the character’s minned stats has on the story.
    That sounds overly punitive, and taking control of the character away from the player. Low mental stats doesn't necessarily have to affect the decisions the player make for the character, although it can be considered "bad roleplaying". Targeting the character and forcing it to pass Wis checks or else have do stupid stuff sounds like a horrible way to run the game.

    Anyways, to me the min-maxer sounds like a problem player, and if it was me I would probably try to continue playing without him. As for the mishaps table, that sounds fine as a mechanism to get the party back to the town at the end of every session or as a TPK mitigation measure. Just be sure to get buy-in from the players for it.

  27. - Top - End - #57
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    In my library

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Second, player B has not given up on wanting to min-max his character and has actually doubled down on it, now also wanting to drop his INT and raise his WIS so he basically has all 3s and 18s. He also wants to trade out any skills and feats that aren't directly relating to spellcasting.
    He's not just a minmaxer, he's a bad one. Seriously, I minmax, and most groups I play with see no problem with doing a bit of it (one GM even assumed we would munchkin a bit and purposefully gave us lower point totals than we 'should' have had, we ended up fine). Instead of minimising his weaknesses he's added a bunch in by making himself a weak, clumsy idiot savant. Just have the party need to balance over a slightly narrow bridge or something, and wait
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

    RIP Laser-Snail, may you live on in our hearts forever.

    Spoiler: playground quotes
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  28. - Top - End - #58
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2017

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    He's not just a minmaxer, he's a bad one.

    Instead of minimising his weaknesses he's added a bunch in by making himself a weak, clumsy idiot savant.
    So he's a maxer, not a min-maxer then...

  29. - Top - End - #59
    Troll in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2010

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pelle View Post
    So he's a maxer, not a min-maxer then...
    Well, the term "min-max" or "mini-max" originally came from setting one thing to the minimum and the other to the maximum.... but it's been changed to general optimization.
    "Gosh 2D8HP, you are so very correct (and also good looking)"

  30. - Top - End - #60
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Default Re: Talakeal's Gaming Horror Stories Continued (not really)

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Well, the term "min-max" or "mini-max" originally came from setting one thing to the minimum and the other to the maximum.... but it's been changed to general optimization.
    Optmizing carries a different connotation.
    Optimizing is a bit more broad spectrum, and acknowledges that there is a point of diminishing returns.
    Min-maxing is about going beyond the point of diminishing returns, and sacrificing other capabilities.

    For example with sword design (usual caveats about there is no one true type and there being variations in design)
    A rapier is optimized for thrusting. However it retains some capacity for cutting and has good hand protection.
    A smallsword is maximized for thrusting. It has no cutting capacity and only vestigal hand protection.
    A viking-era sword is optimized for cutting, it has a broad blade with good cutting geometry. It retains a point and is nimble enough for parrying.
    A falchion is maximized for cutting. It has a very broad blade and (usually) only theoreticall thrusting capacity. It’s shorter length and wide blade make it comparably ineffective at parrying.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •