Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 34
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Australia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Deadly Ultimatums.

    Greetings and Salutations to all, and I hope luck has been favouring you of late.

    I come forth with a very polarising question. One that I've been back and forth on for the last week and that's regarding situations that, if the party resists, they will die. I'm not talking about moments where if they finesse themselves either verbally of physically they can leave on the upper hand. Its a plot point that has two clear cut, definitive outcomes.

    Either they yield to the enemy's demands...

    Or the party, nay, their whole expedition, will die.

    They are outmatched in every way, against an opponent that they will not be able to best for the foreseeable future. In fact a main point of this campaign is built around them doing their best to survive against impossible odds, seeking help from sources they'd otherwise not consider. This all in the name to strike down an adversary that, in the beginning, would be more fit to give a party far stronger than them a run for their money. Basically this is a campaign designed around the fact that they cannot outright defeat this threat through sheer barbarism and luck.

    But that is somewhat off topic, back to the situation in question.

    Too put things simply, the party and their small expedition are in possession of an item the main antagonist wants back, and they know the party is in possession of it. This villain is not a negotiator. They want their artifact back and are not willing to bargain.

    So my question to you is this; Is this ultimatum fair? Do you feel a situation that could end the campaign after two weeks is a task I should be forcing upon my party?

    Thirteen hours out from our next session and I'm still not sure which side of the fence I'm on.

    Also I realise now I have very likely posted this in the wrong section of the forum and I have no clue on how to fix it. So any help on that front would be appreciated.
    Last edited by GemKnightDante; 2019-05-18 at 08:39 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NinjaGirl

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    The big question is: Are you prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions? If the party gets TPKed, are you prepared to keep going? Are your players likely to quit in such a case?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Australia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    I am prepared. But of course I know this is coming. We're a group that's been going for years so I know they wont quit, but in our years of playing a situation like this has never come up.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

    Join Date
    May 2016

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    What exactly is the question?

    Is the ultimatum a fair one? Probably not, but ultimatums don't tend to be fair, so +1 to you.

    Should I kill the party when they refuse? Probably not, I'd go for capture/torture/brainwash rather than kill. See it as a way to progress to the next fase of the story. Maybe they are given another, equally unfair, choice. Like join or die. Or they are drugged and left at a crime scene, only to wake up just as the guard arrives. Maybe they are captured and the players create a second party to rescue them.

    Should I worry about what my players will think of me? Probably not, in my opinion the DM sets a challenge and it's the player's job to think of a solution. Just be somewhat lenient when they have an idea.

    And if all else fails, you could just use a Deus ex Machina and have some higher level hero/heroes intervene at the very last minute. "Thank you for your effort in drawing the villain out. We've been tailing you for some time now. We'll watch your carreers with interest." And now you have an extra set of NPC's to play around with.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    A villain not prone to negotiate wouldn’t give the ultimatum to begin with. If he has the PCs within his ability to kill them and take it, that’s what he’s going to do. If he’s given an ultimatum, the negotiations have already begun.

    Now if you provide clues to the party that this guy will follow through with his claims, then they should most likely go along to live. Let them witness the villain having a similar interaction with another similarly equivalent group that ends in THEIR death. That sets the tone for the ultimatum. I’d make sure to give the PCs a solid victory soon after.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Australia
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    I feel I should give my context into my villain's motives, and some narrative. (TL:DR Below)

    The land in which the party is from has mountain range to the west of its capital. On the other side to this treacherous, unyielding range is a land that had been previously colonised but over four hundred years ago all word from those west of the mountains ceased and the previously known routes through that otherwise impassable terrain were suddenly gone. As if they were never there in the first place.

    Fast forward to present day and a singular route has been found, a path that yields entry, but only upon foot, and a small expedition is sent forth to make a foothold. They settle in a long abandoned guard post, one of the few bastions of civilisation not ravaged by time in that icy climate.

    A scout leaves to map the area and returns with a mysterious silver blade. Expedition leader trusts it to the Blacksmith, one of the PCs, whilst the scout leaves to explore the area more. That evening the campfire the 'town' is gathered around snuffs out, leaving only moonlight and two figures standing on the now icy firepit. The scout, and an Eladrin man adorned in scruffy winter clothing. They reach for their blades but before anyone can rise to defend themselves they feel themselves frozen in place, with but one party member left unaffected. The male demands his sword (is in no way specific about said sword), but the PC that can reply knows nothing of it, so the icy figure starts to dispatch an NPC every turn. Five NPC deaths later, this lunatic begins to cast a spell, only to be stopped by an unseen force before they're wisped away, turning into a haze of snow that floats away into the night.

    Two weeks later the Blacksmith finds the sword in question once again, it buried in items since he had been repairing a forge that the Guard Post possessed. However on that very same day the true villain will make herself known.

    Another Eladrin, this time a woman. She will appear, explain the situation more clearly, genuinely apologise, but offer no compensation for the deeds of her underling. She will request the sword, and then offer the Ultimatum.

    This sword is an ancient ceremonial blade used to summon Spirits the Eladrin have been working on the ritual for for the last four hundred years. What is this ritual for? To wipe all the non-Eladrin from the face of the continent, as she feels they cannot be trusted because of past deeds that almost saw the world swallowed by evil.

    Why doesn't she outright kill them? A twisted sense of mercy. She will allow the 'accursed races' to live their last fleeting years before their presence is snuffed out forever. After all life is so very precious for these short-lived beings. However she will not bestow this mercy to those who hold her from her plans. What's a few lives ending earlier than planned to make sure the world is safe? What's a few tens of thousands in toll to save billions? That's the sort of enemy they face. A warlord who feels she's the hero, making a grand sacrifice to save the world.


    TLDR:
    Party is facing an enemy that believes they are the saviours of the world, and only let them live out the rest of their lives through a demented twist of mercy. But this gift of Mercy will not stop the antagonist from destroying obstacles in their way. The Ultimatum is only being given through 'the Benevolence' of the antagonist. Otherwise she would have already killed them.


    This is why its such a cut-and-dry situation, and most outs wont work. Its been designed for them to lose in totality if they resist at this point.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    ElfRogueGirl

    Join Date
    Apr 2016

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Innocent_bystan View Post
    What exactly is the question?

    Is the ultimatum a fair one? Probably not, but ultimatums don't tend to be fair, so +1 to you.

    Should I kill the party when they refuse? Probably not, I'd go for capture/torture/brainwash rather than kill. See it as a way to progress to the next fase of the story. Maybe they are given another, equally unfair, choice. Like join or die. Or they are drugged and left at a crime scene, only to wake up just as the guard arrives. Maybe they are captured and the players create a second party to rescue them.
    This. The big bad can set the ultimatum, and if the party refuses, he can come take the item from them in a way that doesn't end in death for the characters.

    In addition to these ideas, you could have him take the item and leave immediately after acquiring it, without bothering to stay and finish off the party, since he probably wouldn't see them as much of a threat anyway.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Titan in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    The Land of Cleves
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    I think that there might be a language misunderstanding here. In the language spoken by adventurers, "Give me the MacGuffin or die" does not translate to "You have a choice, one option of which results in your death". It translates to "I am a villain, and it is acceptable, appropriate, and proper to kill me where I stand". To which etiquette calls for a polite response of "Does a 17 hit him?".

    Nor does it fix matters much to have the villain defeat them but spare their lives (imprisoning them, etc.). That's just railroading.

    If you absolutely must do this, then you need to make it a very difficult (but not impossible) fight, make it clear to the characters just how difficult the fight will be, and then be prepared to adjust your plans for the adventure on the fly in the event that they do defeat him.
    Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.
    As You Like It, III:ii:328

    Chronos's Unalliterative Skillmonkey Guide
    Current Homebrew: Blood Warrior Shadow Rider

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by GemKnightDante View Post
    Greetings and Salutations to all, and I hope luck has been favouring you of late.

    I come forth with a very polarising question. One that I've been back and forth on for the last week and that's regarding situations that, if the party resists, they will die. I'm not talking about moments where if they finesse themselves either verbally of physically they can leave on the upper hand. Its a plot point that has two clear cut, definitive outcomes.

    Either they yield to the enemy's demands...

    Or the party, nay, their whole expedition, will die.

    They are outmatched in every way, against an opponent that they will not be able to best for the foreseeable future. In fact a main point of this campaign is built around them doing their best to survive against impossible odds, seeking help from sources they'd otherwise not consider. This all in the name to strike down an adversary that, in the beginning, would be more fit to give a party far stronger than them a run for their money. Basically this is a campaign designed around the fact that they cannot outright defeat this threat through sheer barbarism and luck.

    But that is somewhat off topic, back to the situation in question.

    Too put things simply, the party and their small expedition are in possession of an item the main antagonist wants back, and they know the party is in possession of it. This villain is not a negotiator. They want their artifact back and are not willing to bargain.

    So my question to you is this; Is this ultimatum fair? Do you feel a situation that could end the campaign after two weeks is a task I should be forcing upon my party?

    Thirteen hours out from our next session and I'm still not sure which side of the fence I'm on.

    Also I realise now I have very likely posted this in the wrong section of the forum and I have no clue on how to fix it. So any help on that front would be appreciated.
    I just want to say: I've had that feeling before on a smaller scale (encounter, not campaign) and I've been surprised how frequently the party doesn't die, even when I think TPK is looming. It's amazing. PCs have a lot more defensive depth than they might appear to.

    That being said, there's a big difference between a party biting off more than they can chew, vs. being proactively hunted by an intelligent villain willing to pull out all the stops. In your shoes I'd probably want to offer them an alliance from another organization who basically says, "If you don't get help we're pretty sure you will die ignominiously. The enemy of our enemy is our friend, and we will help you, for a price."

    The nature of the help would include at minimum information from spies (including enemy stats & likely tactics and a heads-up via Sending right before the bad guy attacks, if the PCs still want to fight them), and maybe either some troops/mages or information on where to find magic items. The price would be a favor, in the form of an adventure hook like a months-long planar rescue mission. (Enemy logic: it's a forlorn hope that they can't afford to invest months in, especially if the rescuee is probably dead by now, but sending someone else is basically free. Because it's an RPG it will turn out that the rescuee is still alive after all, if the PCs get there.)

    Edit: the PCs can of course refuse the price, and if so what happens, happens. The other organization would probably leave them with some basic information on stats and tactics anyway as a goodwill gesture (and to hurt the bad guy), but they wouldn't take any risks on their behalf. If they TPK at that point it will be on their own heads.
    Last edited by MaxWilson; 2019-05-18 at 10:22 AM.
    June 17, 2019: No longer on GITP due to frustrations with forum technology and culture. Find me on Reddit as hemlockR.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Dec 2017

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Keep in mind that the players do NOT know any of the back story that you have recited. (at least you haven't explained it that way). The party is exploring territory that has been out of touch for centuries.

    The first question is really how did the scout wander back with such an important artifact? That doesn't really make sense to me in any context. If it was lost, how do they know it was found. If it wasn't lost how did the scout get it. If it is so important, it would have been well guarded or at least watched.

    Next, these elves show up, on their own, demanding the return of the sword. The scout knows who he gave it to. That person knows who they gave it to. Presumably the elf "convinved" the scout to talk and at least tell them who expedition commander was so that they could ask the right person who had the sword. Both the commander and the blacksmith know of the sword that was found by the scout ... it is probably pretty easy to connect the dots on that one. So why didn't the elf demand to speak to the commander and get the sword the first time?

    Also, it is pretty clear that they have no way to track the sword since they couldn't find it on their own. If the elves can know where the sword is then they could find it in the camp.

    Ok. For some reason the elf left the first time after slaughtering 5 NPCs. Another elf comes back that honestly probably doesn't look much different from the first from the perspective of the PCs. Does someone know about the sword this time? They should have last time but who knows why they didn't. The elf freezes everyone in place, slaughters the first person, says where is my sword. The elf says "you can tell me where it is or I will just search the camp after you are all dead. No difference to me." ... the elf slaughters another NPC ... at this point the NPCs are likely to give up the sword since they have NO idea what is going on except this crazy elf wants their sword back. So they tell the elf where it is, elf leaves. If the players don't know what is going on then there is no reason not to give the person their sword, for all they know the scout stole it.

    The fact that they are frozen in place, can't do anything and NPCs are dying are also good motivations. Honestly, why wouldn't they tell the person where to find the sword? It is a narrative plot point imposed by the DM and they can simply have the NPC commander give up the sword to protect their men ... which they would do anyway. The PCs can't affect the outcome, it is a narrative set piece. From your description, the PCs can't do anything anyway, and the elf wouldn't give them the opportunity since the elf doesn't trust them and considers them a lower form of life.

    It may not be a fun encounter but it isn't supposed to be an encounter at all ... it is a narrative plot point where character agency doesn't matter. If that is what you are looking for then just narrate it. The players don't have the option to choose suicide. Why would they? Because they are stubborn and stupid? An elf is looking for their lost sword that the scout stole, and killing NPCs and/or PCs to do it. Have her kill a PC to make the point if the PCs have revivify or raise dead handy.

    Anyway, the logic in the plot line seems to be lacking and unless the players have a lot more knowledge of what is going on than they should given your description then there is really no reason not to give the elf the sword ... though in the situation you have set up ... the PCs don't get to choose anyway.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Troll in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    It really depends what game you are running.

    If you had a session zero, told the players their characters could die and not every fight is level appropriate, if the fight is telegraphed as a tough one... then if they chose to fight they lose.

    You dont have to kill the PCs, just take the required object off whichever one has it and leave the party making death saves. Each character has a 74.4% chance of surviving so you might get a couple of characters but avoid the TPK. This provides continuity but also adds a degree of urgency to the game - a bit more drama. It might suck a bit in the session, but it can boost the rest of the campaign as the players know their choices actually matter. Also, a chance to showcase the antagonist in action here, assuming they will be recurring. Getting the players motivated to hate this guy can make for a great campaign (have them loot some of the party's other items as well - if a henchman steals the fighter's boots, the fighter has a grudge to drive forward the plot.

    Letting everyone make death saves is at least fair - no targeting of particular players.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    I'm a bit confused with the "villain isn't willing to bargain" point.


    An ultimatum is a bargain. If the villain would let the expedition go unarmed if they give the item, then it's a fair deal. Well, as fair as a deal enforced at swordpoint can be.

    However, I'd clear out the situation with the players beforehand.

    Another point is : are the PCs the leader of the expedition, and if yes how loyal are the rest? Because it's probable at least some of the expedition members would rather give the item than die.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Randuir's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2017
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Is the villain capable if TPk-ing the entire party in 1-2 rounds if they refuse? If so, it'd definitely feel like railroading to me. It doesn't really matter if the rails are made of a DM saying 'no' or of super-pwerful hsotile entities the DM placed in locations he doesn't want the PC's to go. So the question you need to answer is: 'is this situation something that needs to happen in my campaign, or something that I see as a logical consequence to them having the artifact?', because in such a situation the time-honored villainous tradition is to send a trusted underling that's not quite as powerful to do their dirty work. The PC's could stand a far better chance against this underling, giving the PC's a real choice.
    Jasnah avatar by Zea Mays

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Zombie

    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    I'd say it is appropriate for the villain to give the ultimatum and be serious. It is also appropriate for the party to try to escape instead. They most likely will. It is not appropriate for the villain to have magically counter any escape plan they can come up with. So, figure out what the bad guy has at the ready and have those assets respond accordingly.

    I also advise you to tell the players in no uncertain terms that you will not be pulling any punches and death is very possible.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    I'd say it is appropriate for the villain to give the ultimatum and be serious. It is also appropriate for the party to try to escape instead. They most likely will. It is not appropriate for the villain to have magically counter any escape plan they can come up with. So, figure out what the bad guy has at the ready and have those assets respond accordingly.

    I also advise you to tell the players in no uncertain terms that you will not be pulling any punches and death is very possible.
    This would be for the best, yeah.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Play it out. You're giving the players a choice. They can live if they give the McGuffin back or (99.99% likely) die if they don't. It's a good way to remind them that yes, the world is a dangerous place and they are not yet ready to take on all challenges.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Laserlight's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Virginia Beach VA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
    I think that there might be a language misunderstanding here. In the language spoken by adventurers, "Give me the MacGuffin or die" does not translate to "You have a choice, one option of which results in your death". It translates to "I am a villain, and it is acceptable, appropriate, and proper to kill me where I stand". To which etiquette calls for a polite response of "Does a 17 hit him?"
    This. So much this.

    I've received similar ultimatums and the normal response was "Let's see, he isn't attacking us at this moment but he's willing to kill us. He wants us to give him a powerful weapon. He's a villain, and we have zero reason to trust his word, so we will assume that any promises he issues are lies. There's basically no reason for us NOT to attack him now, while he's as weak as he will ever be."
    Junior, half orc paladin of the Order of St Dale the Intimidator: "Ah cain't abide no murderin' scoundrel."

    Tactical Precepts: 1) Cause chaos, then exploit it; 2) No plan survives contact with...(sigh)...my subordinates.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Also depending on the artifact, the PCs may want to take a shot at using it.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Beholder

    Join Date
    Aug 2016

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Speaking personally, as a player 99% of the time I will choose to fight in situations like this. Even if it's unwinnable. I would rather go down in a blaze of glory, veering the train off the railroad tracks even if it means crashing it into a cliff and killing us all.

    What are your desired outcomes from this interaction?
    1) the players hate the villain and know she is willing to kill to get her sword.
    A) Have everything you described happening to the players, happen to NPCs. The Smith NPC can be utterly devastated by giving up the sword, and you can have the NPCs describe the cruelty of the elves in great detail.

    2) you want the players to experience humiliation/frustration with the eladrin (hopefully so her defeat is all the more satisfying)
    B)Do your original idea, minus that first elf (it just doesn't work and makes him seem really dumb) but if the players refuse her, THEN have them frozen in place, unable to do anything, rather than killing them.

    My 2 coppers

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laserlight View Post
    This. So much this.

    I've received similar ultimatums and the normal response was "Let's see, he isn't attacking us at this moment but he's willing to kill us. He wants us to give him a powerful weapon. He's a villain, and we have zero reason to trust his word, so we will assume that any promises he issues are lies. There's basically no reason for us NOT to attack him now, while he's as weak as he will ever be."
    It's the DM's job to frame the situation in a way that the players feel they can choose between two outcomes - one where they surrender the object and live and the other where they don't and most likely die. Yeah, most parties will want to wade into combat regardless but that becomes a handy life lesson in Darwinism.

    Some folks will claim this is DM railroading but the alternative just means the players never suffer consequences for bad choices. It's not much different from a save-or-die trap. Yeah, it's not something you want to spring on a group often, but it does (or should) happen from time to time to remind the party that your world is indeed lethal. Adding this perception of lethality, in my experience, adds a level of exhilaration to your game when things go right (which is what will usually happen) because they could go oh, so very wrong.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Goblin

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by darknite View Post
    It's the DM's job to frame the situation in a way that the players feel they can choose between two outcomes - one where they surrender the object and live and the other where they don't and most likely die. Yeah, most parties will want to wade into combat regardless but that becomes a handy life lesson in Darwinism.

    Some folks will claim this is DM railroading but the alternative just means the players never suffer consequences for bad choices. It's not much different from a save-or-die trap. Yeah, it's not something you want to spring on a group often, but it does (or should) happen from time to time to remind the party that your world is indeed lethal. Adding this perception of lethality, in my experience, adds a level of exhilaration to your game when things go right (which is what will usually happen) because they could go oh, so very wrong.
    Yeah but "Here is a random person who murdered some of your lackeys and has a huge sign taped over their head saying 'Bad guy'. They want a random artifact one of your henchmen pulled out of his butt off of you and are willing to kill for it" is a stupid situation to put the players in because you're telegraphing dont give them the artifact when that's actually the auto-failure option

    Adding this "pick correctly or TPK" dialogue choice to the campaign doesnt actually teach the players anything about lethality or perception. It teaches them that you will kill their characters to make a point.
    Last edited by Bacon Elemental; 2019-05-21 at 08:43 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by ActionReplay View Post
    Why does D&D have no Gollum? Why it does. You just can't see him. He is wearing his precious at the moment.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Zombie

    Join Date
    Jun 2015

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    It would work better if 5he party knew it was just one of multiple things the bad guy needs. Would make it a bit more clear that taking the deal isn't an auto loss.
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by darknite View Post
    It's the DM's job to frame the situation in a way that the players feel they can choose between two outcomes - one where they surrender the object and live and the other where they don't and most likely die. Yeah, most parties will want to wade into combat regardless but that becomes a handy life lesson in Darwinism.

    Some folks will claim this is DM railroading but the alternative just means the players never suffer consequences for bad choices. It's not much different from a save-or-die trap. Yeah, it's not something you want to spring on a group often, but it does (or should) happen from time to time to remind the party that your world is indeed lethal. Adding this perception of lethality, in my experience, adds a level of exhilaration to your game when things go right (which is what will usually happen) because they could go oh, so very wrong.
    It's not "claiming the DM is railroading" when the DM literally says it's "give the item or auto-death for everyone.

    Even a 99.99% lethal encounter still has the possibility people escape.

    Same with traps: a save-or-die isn't the same thing as insta-death no save
    Last edited by Unoriginal; 2019-05-21 at 09:10 AM.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacon Elemental View Post
    Yeah but "Here is a random person who murdered some of your lackeys and has a huge sign taped over their head saying 'Bad guy'. They want a random artifact one of your henchmen pulled out of his butt off of you and are willing to kill for it" is a stupid situation to put the players in because you're telegraphing dont give them the artifact when that's actually the auto-failure option

    Adding this "pick correctly or TPK" dialogue choice to the campaign doesnt actually teach the players anything about lethality or perception. It teaches them that you will kill their characters to make a point.
    Example - your 5th level party finds a strange amulet bearing an indecipherable inscription upon it in a dungeon. On the way home flames shoot out of a standing stone at a crossroads and it cracks open to reveal Asmodeus flanked by two pit fiends. Asmodeus offers you a deal, because that's what he does - give him the amulet and you can live, oppose him and your souls will be roasted in the bottom layer of Hell. Hmm, obviously there's something interesting, at least to Asmodeus, about this amulet. Your party can elect to withhold the amulet and face Asmodeus and entourage, or you can give it up and be alive.

    Does the party really need to keep the amulet? In most cases they'll want to oppose Asmodeus' designs but they're not up to the task of directly opposing him (yet). Perhaps this item will be important later in their adventures? Who knows? As for killing them to make a point, no, it's their choice. Certainly there are ways of doing this in a way that harms player agency and it's up to the DM to make sure players realize this is a story beat moment and not a 'bow before my mighty NPC' DM power moment. It's the DM's job to guide this out of that trap while opening doors to new story lines.

    Lastly, introducing uber NPCs that make ultimatums to PCs is not something you want to do often for reasons stated thus far. But it can have its' place.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Goblin

    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    True - but "Asmodeus himself arises in a firey chasm along with his deadliest of fiends" is itself a rather different proposition to "An Eleadrin spellcaster walks up to you and kicks a puppy stabs a nameless NPC to prove how evil they are."
    Quote Originally Posted by ActionReplay View Post
    Why does D&D have no Gollum? Why it does. You just can't see him. He is wearing his precious at the moment.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacon Elemental View Post
    True - but "Asmodeus himself arises in a firey chasm along with his deadliest of fiends" is itself a rather different proposition to "An Eleadrin spellcaster walks up to you and kicks a puppy stabs a nameless NPC to prove how evil they are."
    I'll grant you that. The DM needs to sell it in the right way to make this work. One reason you don't want to do this often is that players get sick of having to kowtow to every 2-bit warlord that gets the drop on them.
    Last edited by darknite; 2019-05-21 at 10:20 AM.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Feb 2017

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bacon Elemental View Post
    "Asmodeus himself arises in a firey chasm along with his deadliest of fiends"
    I read that as "his deadliest of friends".

    That was a fun mental image.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    U.S.
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8Q8bVPpc84A
    Taking all of the players choices "do this or die" is not fun. They will not submit, almost never. See above video, I think it addresses this well

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Orc in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoriginal View Post
    I read that as "his deadliest of friends".

    That was a fun mental image.
    Wasn't that Joey?

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Meridianville AL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Deadly Ultimatums.

    Quote Originally Posted by darknite View Post
    Play it out. You're giving the players a choice. They can live if they give the McGuffin back or (99.99% likely) die if they don't. It's a good way to remind them that yes, the world is a dangerous place and they are not yet ready to take on all challenges.
    I agree that I absolutely would not have the villain win but let them live.

    If they fight, she kills them all, takes the artifact, and then the players have a REASON to dislike her and to know that she's bad news and you start over with new characters.

    Players get choices, and the choices have consequences. If there is no failure, then there is also no success.

    The new characters can hear rumors about how she killed the last party to cross her, and they were great heroes.

    But prior to the fight have something to let them know what they're up against. Worst case, if you can't come up with anything else, just flat out tell them out of character. Because as others have said, the in-character clues you're giving all say "Fight!" and if this really is an effectively unwinnable fight, then that's a horrible thing to do. You can't tell them to fight and then blame them for fighting.

    You need to make this a situation where surrender seems reasonable. That means the villain has to act like a surrender is survivable. "Hello, my name is Unkillable Ubervillain. I believe you have my artifact. If you give it to me now I will allow you to live out the rest of your no doubt miserable and short existence in peace."

    Then let everyone roll to see if they recognize the name Unkillable Ubervillain against some really easy DC, and have heard that she typically does keep her deals, and that she's vastly more powerful than they are. They can still fight if they want to. But at least they had an idea of what they were up against.

    The ultimatum itself doesn't help at all on knowing this is a bad fight, and having her do something like kill an NPC just indicates that she's an ass and probably won't let any of them live if she can help it.
    Last edited by Doug Lampert; 2019-05-21 at 01:09 PM.

Posting Permissions

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