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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    The problem isn’t that the outsiders are statted and in the monster manual. The problem is that players have read and studied the monster manual.

    Plagues used to be scary, now people know hygiene rules and most people know how to combat them, so they’re not as scary as they once were.
    In The Hobbit, Smaug is terrifying right up to the point where Bilbo spots the gap in his armor.
    Zombies were scary until “cut off its head” became a trope.

    The other main problem is that outsiders (+Dragons) often get portrayed as having human like emotions, ambitions and sensibilities. So the players treat them more as Scooby-Doo villains (there’s a person under the mask) than as scary otherworldly beings.

    The solution, as I see it are:
    (1) To keep the actual stats and vulnerabilities hidden from the players. Certainly let the players work out from clues and interactions what they may be, but if the player knows “I have to hit this creature from behind, after casting debuffs 1 and 2, using an X-type attack” the critter is no longer scary.
    (2) The DM has to role play the critter in a way that conveys it is inhuman in the way it thinks. For example Dragons are often portrayed as being very proud and responding to flattery and incivility, however a dragon would probably treat the capering of humans the way we’d respond to a friend’s pet rat.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Constructman View Post
    If you want your players to fight them, they need to have a set of abilities and attributes and not be able to pull new ones put of their asses, lest you get accused of just making **** up as you go.

    The question is, do you want your players to fight them?

    The Mafia boss is much more intimidating than a simple thug, even if one is rarely seen and the other is about to break your nose. As soon as the boss has to take matters into his own hands and do the dirty work himself, his credibility decreases. However, as long as he is in the shadows, manipulating things behind the scenes, he remains a fearsome figure even if he never personally lays a finger on his enemies. The same applies to RPG enemies, Archfiends included. If they have to confront the party directly, something has gone terribly wrong with their plan and their credibility and intimidation factor decreases appropriately. But as long as the party never sees them, but knows that they're there and are actively working to make their life miserable, then they can retain some shred of scariness.
    Even if the PCs encounter them or fight them, that doesn't mean they have to be neatly laid out as known commodities. Maybe if more of them are unique instead of being a fixed pile of HP and special attacks...

    What I'm getting at is that if I had a game where PCs were opposed by demons and devils, I'd strip away all of D&D's "must fill monster manual entries" cookie-cutter stuff, and have every demon or devil beyond the cannon fodder level by a unique creature in some ways, so that the players couldn't just recite the MM entry from memory.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-06-02 at 11:41 PM.
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  3. - Top - End - #33
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Possible, but it seems needlessly reductive.

    It's not like we haven't seen the whole culture and community likewise shift. Your point is probably valid, but is likely not the complete solution.
    Needlessly reductive seems to be my thing, to be honest. I focus on what I consider to be the most likely, or most weighty, reason for a thing - and make no mention of other, lesser factors, though of course they will exist, almost universally. Also, sometimes I'm just plain wrong =)

    However ... the whole culture and community has shifted, I agree. I'd say towards better (or at least simpler and more fluid) mechanics - and worse games. But I don't think that shift has impacted outsiders, particularly. They literally always were .. sad, 2-dimensional saps.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    People are talking about the difficulty of portraying them as "horrifying" in a pen and paper game but it seems like you're talking more about the creatures themselves.

    Angels and demons are typically important because of what they represent in a religious context. D&D's metaphysical context (great wheel/world axis), which it forces them into, is very abstract and doesn't feel that important, so they lack punch.

    So one answer is to create a relevant metaphysics for your world, and make the metaphysical beings be linked to that as well as feeling like natural parts of the setting.

    In the case of the World Axis, angels are supposed to be the servants of the gods, so the question really gets pushed back to the metaphysical sterility with which D&D gods are typically portrayed. Bring the gods to life in the world and angels will naturally feel potent as a result. You probably want to get rid of their wings (it's not like they even use them to fly anyway, usually).


    The other part doesn't really need an answer. Yes, depicting demons as simple beefcakes is lame, so you just don't have to do it.


    And of course there's always something to be said for abandoning categories. No angels and demons, no simple antithesis of supernal and infernal beings. Make them both in one, or make new forms of metaphysical being, or maybe there are no metaphysical beings, just mortals with special traits and powers, or maybe there's no such thing as the metaphysical and the planes are part of the real world, etc.
    Last edited by Elves; 2019-06-03 at 10:07 AM.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    And of course there's always something to be said for abandoning categories. No angels and demons, no simple antithesis of supernal and infernal beings. Make them both in one, or make new forms of metaphysical being, or maybe there are no metaphysical beings, just mortals with special traits and powers, or maybe there's no such thing as the metaphysical and the planes are part of the real world, etc.
    Seconding this.

    Even if angels and daemons exist as discrete categories it should be near impossible to tell which is which. Even something as simple as having them be divided by faction or theme rather than alignment helps. Throwing all the outsiders into multiple factions of varying allegiance helps make them less cookie cutter. No good reason a god can't command heavenly and hellish hosts once you stray from the default bland stuff, plenty of mythological figures would straddle that line pretty happily.



    Leaning more on the unnatural biology angle helps too. I don't mean things like rotten mounds of flesh that still move, or wacko gorilla monsters, things like wheels within wheels ever turning, bodies composed of multiple disassociated parts that float in perfect symmetry, even just a big floating mask with a corona of light is weirder with the right setup than most depictions of outsiders.

    Also, less weapons. A powerful daemon or angel should be able to unmake mortals with their voice alone, if it needs to stab you it makes them more mundane. If a floating geometric shape starts killing you by speaking of your past misdeeds it tends to freak you out.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    Also, less weapons. A powerful daemon or angel should be able to unmake mortals with their voice alone, if it needs to stab you it makes them more mundane. If a floating geometric shape starts killing you by speaking of your past misdeeds it tends to freak you out.
    The problem is, in a game this is just some sort of magical attack. Games are reductionist - they reduce everything to numbers and formulae - and most table-top games are extremely low immersion (heck, in the present day its a lucky GM who can get their players to put their cell phones away during play), so describing something in a scary way doesn't really accomplish much.

    Also, very few gamers are actually interested in playing horror games or games with heavy horror themes, to the point that even games that are pitched as being about horror don't get played that way (White-Wolf designers were notorious for being angry about this) and because of low immersion players often don't react to events that could in another context be horror themed with horror but with humor. D&D makes this worse because characters past a certain level are notoriously difficult to damage in any sort of permanent fashion: kill you, drain your essence, drain your strength, all these things can be fixed and none of them is nearly as terrifying as an encounter with a rust monster.

    And of course, the reputation of the rust monster is also illuminating - should a GM actually take stuff away from the player's characters that cannot easily be replaced, they shall face out of game fire and fury the likes of which would never be seen by merely having a balor lop some character's head off.

    Mundane and boring fits monsters, even highly fantastical monsters, in D&D and many other tabletop games, because it fits the mood and playstyle that tends to unfold at tables (and in D&D-based video games) where the party proceeds to go through enemies of all shapes, sizes, and supernatural natures like a steel & spell blowtorch.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    The problem is, in a game this is just some sort of magical attack. Games are reductionist - they reduce everything to numbers and formulae - and most table-top games are extremely low immersion (heck, in the present day its a lucky GM who can get their players to put their cell phones away during play), so describing something in a scary way doesn't really accomplish much.

    Also, very few gamers are actually interested in playing horror games or games with heavy horror themes, to the point that even games that are pitched as being about horror don't get played that way (White-Wolf designers were notorious for being angry about this) and because of low immersion players often don't react to events that could in another context be horror themed with horror but with humor. D&D makes this worse because characters past a certain level are notoriously difficult to damage in any sort of permanent fashion: kill you, drain your essence, drain your strength, all these things can be fixed and none of them is nearly as terrifying as an encounter with a rust monster.

    And of course, the reputation of the rust monster is also illuminating - should a GM actually take stuff away from the player's characters that cannot easily be replaced, they shall face out of game fire and fury the likes of which would never be seen by merely having a balor lop some character's head off.

    Mundane and boring fits monsters, even highly fantastical monsters, in D&D and many other tabletop games, because it fits the mood and playstyle that tends to unfold at tables (and in D&D-based video games) where the party proceeds to go through enemies of all shapes, sizes, and supernatural natures like a steel & spell blowtorch.
    That is a big issue with D&D, true. I know I've never even felt mildly perturbed at any of the foes I've faced in D&D. Hell my current D&D character wrestled a freaking basilisk and won, which rather took any intimidation factor it may have had when I was holding it down and biting it. Or that time I couldn't hit a drow reliably so I just grappled him and held him over a campfire until he burned to death while he flailed at me.

    The Rust Monster I think is emblematic of the core issue of D&D which is lack of consequence. Even dying is a mild inconvenience, so losing gear is the only real loss measurement that means much.
    Sanity is nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Around the time you started to see them as cliched. Change things up to avert the cliches, and the problem will resolve itself.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    I don't think that shift has impacted outsiders, particularly. They literally always were .. sad, 2-dimensional saps.
    You could say the same abput wizards, elves, barbarians, and orcs. The depth and dimensionality of any character is only as robust as the person playing it makes it to be. Angels and Demons require no more or less work than the PCs themselves.

    Problem is that oftentimes the DM uses cookiee cutter statblocks as a shortcut to developing deep characters, which us exactly what the monster reference book they spent money for was designed to let them do.

    I try to get into a habit of using cookiee cutter statblocks as often as I can so I can spend more time fleshing out a generic character rather than trying to build something from scratch that likely would have been similar in the end anyway. So angels and demons mostly just need more thought and care put into them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    Angels and demons are typically important because of what they represent in a religious context. D&D's metaphysical context (great wheel/world axis), which it forces them into, is very abstract and doesn't feel that important, so they lack punch.
    This is a great point. Giving a pantheon and cosmology that has actual teeth in the game will naturally lend more gravitas to the angels and demons that belong to that corner of the cosmos.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elves View Post
    And of course there's always something to be said for abandoning categories. No angels and demons, no simple antithesis of supernal and infernal beings. Make them both in one, or make new forms of metaphysical being, or maybe there are no metaphysical beings, just mortals with special traits and powers, or maybe there's no such thing as the metaphysical and the planes are part of the real world, etc.
    A common perception of angels and demons is that they were at some point in history literally identical, if your setting describes demons as fallen angels (though an interesting subversion of the trope would be to make demons the natural state and angels are the redeemed version). In any case, when you use this trope, you can easily get into plots where *not only* are the players not sure who is a demon or an angel, but also they can't be absolutely sure any angel or demon isn't going to wind up switching sides in pursuit of their goals.

    Treat it a bit like a Constantine comic book and watch your angels and demons become WAY more interesting for your players.
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  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    The Rust Monster I think is emblematic of the core issue of D&D which is lack of consequence. Even dying is a mild inconvenience, so losing gear is the only real loss measurement that means much.
    It's not a D&D issue at all though, it's a gameplay issue generally, one that's found across mediums. Players hate, hate, having to face real and serious consequences in games. In video games consequence is avoided by the save function, and your game design had better allow players to save sufficiently often to avoid wasting significant time or the knives will come out. In tabletop, any consequences need to be something you can brush off in order to get back to the action in a hurry.

    And yes, there are games that violate these trends, but they tend to be niche and they appeal only to a specific portion of the playerbase, kind of like horror movies appeal to a specific portion of movie goers. Also like horror movies the subgroup that's into this sort of thing is really, really into it, and, additionally, the economic niche is one that is served by particularly low budget and often obscure fare. I'm sure there's a great horror game out there somewhere - probably on drivethrurpg - that has terrifying otherworldly demons that the right table can use to get properly freaked out by. I'm also sure it will never go mainstream.

    D&D is, to extend the analogy a bit too far, the Marvel of table-top gaming, and it's 'outsiders' if done well are more like Thanos and Dormamu: big, pointlessly pathological, and often literally on fire. Scary? Not really. Satisfying to bash through the skull with a hammer? Yes.
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    ....Imagine The Exorcist if Conan Stevens became so angry he punched the demon out of the girl.

    Please someone make that film, it sounds so much better!
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    D&D is, to extend the analogy a bit too far, the Marvel of table-top gaming, and it's 'outsiders' if done well are more like Thanos and Dormamu: big, pointlessly pathological, and often literally on fire. Scary? Not really. Satisfying to bash through the skull with a hammer? Yes.
    Honestly I had an idea just now. I am honestly terrified for my little bard's life in one of my games. Because he deals with problems by proxy meaning he helps his surrounding world to be heroic and awesome. Alone he can't even deal with a small quasit or a goblin. He is part of a group, and mechanically he has a role that is going to become more and more vital, but both on a mechanical and a fluff level he is HOSED without allies.

    And then I thought back which villains were most satisfying, which encounters with LOSS where most memorable, and it is always the ones where something is taken away that isn't the character itself but something important to him or her. A priestess' boyfriend murdered someone and was executed. A knight's mount was disintegrated, his dwarven friend killed. If you enforce heroic types in your group and not the egalitarian mercenary, villains (and to this extend, outsiders) harming loved ones (which stat blocks that basically say 'you win'), suddenly gaming becomes emotional again without subverting the empowering gameplay or shackling the players by virtue of DM fiat.

    Of course in order to harm a character with that, he or she needs to create loved ones to threaten.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Please someone make that film, it sounds so much better!
    Isn't that one called The Evil Dead?
    Last edited by Sporeegg; 2019-06-03 at 07:25 AM.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    I think it all comes down to "play the character, not the stat block." For both sides. If the players play their characters as actual people (not as abstract entities that have perfect knowledge of the mechanics), they won't take things lightly. They'll form connections to the world. If the DM plays the "monsters" as actual beings, each with personality, goals, and desires[1], the players won't be able to simply punch their way through things (except in high-optimization 3e, which is all sorts of broken).

    [1] I find that trying to portray truly alien desires and thought-processes just gets players to tune out. They can't rationally predict what the creature will do, so they take the most expedient option and basically ignore the creature unless it's directly in their face. Not to mention, humans don't do alien well at all. "Humanizing" villains and creatures can make them even more scary, because you let the players' imaginations take some of the load. That way, you can simply suggest possibilities. Nothing is as scary as what the players can come up with for themselves.
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Please someone make that film, it sounds so much better!
    I think they made a couple shows about it, honestly. Buffy being the OG one.
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    What's the answer, then?

    How do you include dragons, undead, drow, shoggoths, etc. in a way that shows them as the demonic forces that they are?
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    What's the answer, then?

    How do you include dragons, undead, drow, shoggoths, etc. in a way that shows them as the demonic forces that they are?
    This is where the fun begins.

    As you correctly point out, a lot of these monsters will tend to bleed into each other unless you use some sharp delineation.

    The easiest answer is clearly that you pick one or two to focus on, rather than squeezing them all into the heinous evil category.

    But when you really got to fit them all into the same box, you gotta give each of them something unique and different. The problem I see is that the Far Realm abominations really have nothing going for them except madness and horror, so it's hard to give them a villain niche that doesn't lessen the horror of other villains.

    I think it's important to recall what makes a villain or monster scary. They always represent a threat, so I view Abberations as threats on sanity and the player's mind. Sure, they might happily skin you alive, but the point is more that they don't find this idea unusual.

    Dragons are a threat on wealth, including real estate. They are greedy and hoard shiny things. They are as powerful as a flying tank, and they won't share anything. Not territory, not resources, not anything. Even the good aligned dragons hoard wealth. Even if you're a peasant without two coppers to rub together, the gluttony of a dragon is insatiable. Best you can hope for is they'll eat themselves into a food coma for a few decades (and you won't be part of the feast).

    Undead represent the threat of disease. They "want" to rob us of our health, eating our flesh, blood, or contaminating us. You get the idea.

    Drow are the evil side of elves. They are people born to superior talent and quality of life. But they're also slavers. They want our labor. They represent a threat of oppression.

    Then we have the Demons. They're known for making deals to own your soul. Demons threaten your eternal fate, your afterlife. In RPGs, this is a baseless threat, because your afterlife is a footnote in your game. Who cares if you end up in one of the heavens or hells? I mean, a lot of people have done a lot of work trying to justify that evil characters would prefer to live in hell. So making a deal with a devil seems just win/win. To make Demons scary, the threat the pose to your soul should be real. Suppose dying to a demon had the risk that you might not be able to be resurrected, since your soul might not be free to return. Yeah, a lot of undead hold this threat as becoming undead is a great way to lose your ability to return, but for devils to keep their niche as the predators of the spirit world, they need the power to actually damage or destroy a character's everlasting soul.
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sporeegg View Post
    I speak strictly in the sense of D&D and its surrounding pop culture. Heroes seem to never be afraid of these which is weird since even angels are described as scary not because they are winged super beings but because their form is so incredible it makes the human mind race.
    By the time the players start encountering these things that are superbeings as well, unless its some minor outsider like a lantern archon or a quasit, in which case they are stock-in-trade religious or arcane organization, if not necessarily for any member of said organization.

    It also doesn;t help that most of the "spirits" are made of meat.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    What's the answer, then?

    How do you include dragons, undead, drow, shoggoths, etc. in a way that shows them as the demonic forces that they are?
    Really? Stop using them as CR appropriate encounters. If my PCs see a dragon they run. If they see a devil, they die. If you want them to be scary then let it be known and follow through on the threat. If your players don't want that kind of game they will let you know. Sometimes they even figure it out before the first TPK.

    I'm serious. Talk to your players first. Be honest with what you want to do and why. Be ready for them to ignore you and "Leroy Jenkins." Then hand them a new character sheet. It breeds a different type of playstyle, but no less fun.

    For the record, I am not an old-school ToA style Gygax GM, but there are consequences in my games.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by redwizard007 View Post
    Really? Stop using them as CR appropriate encounters. If my PCs see a dragon they run. If they see a devil, they die. If you want them to be scary then let it be known and follow through on the threat. If your players don't want that kind of game they will let you know. Sometimes they even figure it out before the first TPK.

    I'm serious. Talk to your players first. Be honest with what you want to do and why. Be ready for them to ignore you and "Leroy Jenkins." Then hand them a new character sheet. It breeds a different type of playstyle, but no less fun.

    For the record, I am not an old-school ToA style Gygax GM, but there are consequences in my games.
    So an imp or wyrmling = TPK threat? Even at level 20? Because that's what that means to me. Am I reading you wrong?
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    So an imp or wyrmling = TPK threat? Even at level 20? Because that's what that means to me. Am I reading you wrong?
    Entirely wrong. That may have been my fault.

    If the party is level 10, send them a CR 18. If they are level 1, send them a CR 8. Something that qualifies as deadly at the very least. If you give them a fighting chance with a "terrifying creature" then it isn't really terrifying. Their options need to be heroic-delaying-action, run-like-hell, or die.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by redwizard007 View Post
    Entirely wrong. That may have been my fault.

    If the party is level 10, send them a CR 18. If they are level 1, send them a CR 8. Something that qualifies as deadly at the very least. If you give them a fighting chance with a "terrifying creature" then it isn't really terrifying. Their options need to be heroic-delaying-action, run-like-hell, or die.
    But...why? That kind of anti balance is one bad roll away from an involuntary TPK, which leaves people feeling like the DM is out to get them. D&D does not do fleeing well, especially from things that move faster than you do.

    D&D, to me, is about being a hero. And if there's a large swath of things that are just "no, DM says you run or die", and you can only run because he decided to play the monster stupidly, it's hard to be a hero. That's more fitting for a CoC game IMO. I want my character to push through the fear and do things. Heroic things. But I guess de gustibas and all that...

    But then again, I've never been one for horror or terror. I want players to care about the consequences. Not for themselves, but for the people, things, or ideas they care about. And that doesn't require singular big scary things at all.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    But...why? That kind of anti balance is one bad roll away from an involuntary TPK, which leaves people feeling like the DM is out to get them. D&D does not do fleeing well, especially from things that move faster than you do.

    D&D, to me, is about being a hero. And if there's a large swath of things that are just "no, DM says you run or die", and you can only run because he decided to play the monster stupidly, it's hard to be a hero. That's more fitting for a CoC game IMO. I want my character to push through the fear and do things. Heroic things. But I guess de gustibas and all that...

    But then again, I've never been one for horror or terror. I want players to care about the consequences. Not for themselves, but for the people, things, or ideas they care about. And that doesn't require singular big scary things at all.
    That's fine, but then you are resorting to DMs acting ability to instill terror. That's going to be a mixed bag at best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redwizard007 View Post
    That's fine, but then you are resorting to DMs acting ability to instill terror. That's going to be a mixed bag at best.
    By why even have try to instill terror at all? That's what I don't get. Terror isn't fun. Terror isn't heroic, especially when you can't fight through it. Sure, there can be things that are way out of the party's league, but relegating whole categories of creatures to that status just means you might as well not stat them at all. Because only throwing ones they can't handle means their stats are irrelevant entirely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    By why even have try to instill terror at all? That's what I don't get. Terror isn't fun. Terror isn't heroic, especially when you can't fight through it. Sure, there can be things that are way out of the party's league, but relegating whole categories of creatures to that status just means you might as well not stat them at all. Because only throwing ones they can't handle means their stats are irrelevant entirely.
    Ok. So what do you want to get out of your outsiders, etc?

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    "Terror" is a thin line anyway, since gamers all understand on some level that the "standard role" GM can in theory just keep piling on until the threat is beyond the PCs' ability to handle.

    And "horror" is about helplessness, and most gamers aren't looking for a steady diet of helplessness.
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    It's not a D&D issue at all though, it's a gameplay issue generally, one that's found across mediums. Players hate, hate, having to face real and serious consequences in games. In video games consequence is avoided by the save function, and your game design had better allow players to save sufficiently often to avoid wasting significant time or the knives will come out. In tabletop, any consequences need to be something you can brush off in order to get back to the action in a hurry.
    Conversely, nobody likes having their character permacrippled because of a few bad die-rolls. (Or bad judgement, true. But when a DM says "Well, make better decisions! ", the most common decision made is to find another DM.)
    Last edited by Arbane; 2019-06-03 at 09:59 PM.
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    You could say the same abput wizards, elves, barbarians, and orcs. The depth and dimensionality of any character is only as robust as the person playing it makes it to be. Angels and Demons require no more or less work than the PCs themselves.

    Problem is that oftentimes the DM uses cookiee cutter statblocks as a shortcut to developing deep characters, which us exactly what the monster reference book they spent money for was designed to let them do.

    I try to get into a habit of using cookiee cutter statblocks as often as I can so I can spend more time fleshing out a generic character rather than trying to build something from scratch that likely would have been similar in the end anyway. So angels and demons mostly just need more thought and care put into them.
    No, that's simply not true. Outsiders are - by design - endless hordes of identical, unmotivated evil. The blood war is a stunning example of just enormously unimaginative, crappy design: Endless armies fighting endlessly for no reason what so ever, with no result what so ever. There are many flaws in published RPG works, but none quite so galling as the outsiders*.

    I hardly ever use cookie cutter enemies for anything - but then on the other hand, I hardly ever really use combat either. Not ... really. Generally, there's only boss fights. And I'm not saying that's a good thing, btw, just that I'm generally not very good at running combat, and also I find it tedius. Especially if it's just .. 'an encounter'.

    * Some outsiders are cool - like, bariaur are awesome. Even if they too are 2-dimensional, they're so blank, fluff wise, that I can do anything I want with them.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by AceOfFools View Post
    "It has stats, so we can kill it," has been a meme since at least 2nd edition (i.e. before I was born).

    There were discussions on the best way to beat gods based on their published stats on the usenet forums that were precursors to the modern internet.
    They don't even need stats. I've personally devoted thought to how to kill the Lady of Pain and Lord Ao (the omnipotence of both seems to be highly local, and they seem to be tightly entangled with their respective locales, so if those locales could be damaged or shut down (such as by sealing all of Sigil's portals from the outside, or sealing off Realmspace like Athas) they might be weakened or killed

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    Basically because what makes supernatural stuff scary is the inability to deal with it, and D&D is about dealing with things. Imagine The Exorcist if Conan Stevens became so angry he punched the demon out of the girl.
    Which brings up the related issue that angels and demons are supposed to be spiritual beings, so you shouldn;t be able to punch them. Yet in D&D you totally can.

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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Which brings up the related issue that angels and demons are supposed to be spiritual beings, so you shouldn;t be able to punch them. Yet in D&D you totally can.
    If you can wrestle an angel, you can punch one. More I cannot say without breaking forum rules.
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    Default Re: When did good and evil outsiders become so mundane and boring?

    I found the Van Richtens Guide series of Ravenloft books solved this block for me.

    Each one takes a traditional monster (Vampire, Werebeasts, Mummies, Ghosts, Golems, Liches, Demons), and deconstructs it. They encourage you to stop thinking of them as blocks of hit points, and address them at the core roleplay level - what is their curse, how does it tie into their personal history, and crimes, and how does that influence their powers, strengths, and vulnerabilities.

    It really hammered home that players shouldn't even be coming at these types of monsters without making an effort to investigate and understand the particular creature. Suddenly when a Ghost is immune to all attacks because the party have not bothered to learn that it is only vulnerable when a specific incense tied to their death is burned in their presence, or that the werewolf instantly regenerates all wounds that are not inflicted under direct moonlight, then they learn to be afraid.

    Granted, this requires trust between players and DM's (such that the players know the DM isn't just stonewalling them out of spite, and that a solution really does exist), and the first couple of times you use it, you need to give the players an easy escape option (since odds are they aren't going to be expecting such a sudden departure from the book norm), but with a decent group of players, once you establish that the supernatural, celestial, and infernal does not play by the standard set of rules, you can make some really fun (and properly respected by the players) encounters.
    Last edited by Glorthindel; 2019-06-04 at 04:29 AM.

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