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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    A dungeon crawl is essentially a black box that takes in adventurers and outputs corpses. So when I play, my characters often try to figure out as much as he/she can before doing anything. Often the lack of information can be truly ridiculous and all available information just seems to tell me to run away. However, despite what you or your character wants, you have to go. Sometimes it's railroading, other times it's because the other characters think your character is a wuss. And often it's because your character is indeed a wuss, but you go anyway because you're simply roleplaying being afraid and/or you simply aren't afraid of what may happen to your character.

    So my question is this: When is it cowardly not to go on a quest and when is it stupid to go on the quest? How much does your character really need to know about the situation before he/she does anything? If you do know how dangerous the situation actually is, how much danger would it have to be before you just say that you're not doing the quest? How much faith do you put into your DM that he/she isn't actively trying to kill you and you don't have to perform five divinations per day?
    Last edited by UglyPanda; 2008-12-05 at 11:50 AM.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Hmm. Very good topic.

    I think it would vary too much on the specific situations, games/DM styles, and PCs to get a straight universal answer.

    However, the promise of loot and/or fame has lead to many people getting killed stupidly IRL, so I imagine there are plenty of PCs out there who could be fully aware of the Tomb of Horrors but would still willingly go in if they believe they will be filthy rich once/if they get past the demi-lich.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Neither. They're greedy. Shinies override natural logic.

    I also heard the hot chicks dig guys who can slay a dragon and are briming with gold and jewels.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Sometimes, the Fate of the World(TM) depends on it.

    Also, graverobbing and dungeoneering is often profitable, as long as you don't get killed. So is selling drugs. Risk vs Reward, how much do you have vs how much you stand to lose vs how much you stand to make. Yea, you'll probably die, but if you succeed, you'll be able to live comfortably for the rest of your life. Are you prepared to flip that coin?
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Discretion is the better part of valor. It's smart to ask what the risks are before you start out. It's stupid to go ahead and go on the quest (without at least some increase in reward) when it becomes clear that the king (or whoever) has no idea what's waiting for you. It's cowardly not to go if the king gives you a decent amount of information, and you think you have a decent chance of achieving the goal.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Going on the quest is a convention of table top gaming. Your GM put a lot of hard work into making that dungeon and you'd be an ass if you made him throw that away and do something else instead.

    Where I've seen discretion come up is in choosing quests if the GM gives you options. It also comes up in planning your assault. You can be shrewd and cautious in insisting on looking for a back door or in bribing guards instead of fighting them. You'll still invade the fortress, you'll just do it in a less dangerous way.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Everyone in D&D is stupid. I dont think I've seen a fight wich ended with "We surrender!". Really, are those goblins willing to fight to death to protect the stupid almost worthless treasure they have? (Wich might contain magic weapons they didnt even used), or die to protect the pig they stole from the local farmers? And what about thieves assaulting you in the road? Everyone fights to death in D&D. But the only ones doing so knowing they can resurrect are the PC's.

    Back on topic, quiting from a dungeon crawl involving saving the world is wussines, running from it once you realized there's no way you can beat it, not so wussy.

    Going into the tomb of horrors? plain stupidity, going twice? Make a SAN check please.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins View Post
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Surrendering to an army might be smart. Surrendering to a small group of irregular weirdos isn't quite as smart. If you're a bunch of thieves, the punishment for you is probably going to be somewhere between cutting off your hands (on the merciful end) and execution. The thieves also know that they wouldn't hesitate to kill you if they capture you, so they expect the same in return.

    Really, are those goblins willing to fight to death to protect the stupid almost worthless treasure they have? (Wich might contain magic weapons they didnt even used), or die to protect the pig they stole from the local farmers?
    Some of them are.

    Then again, there are traditions...

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Telonius View Post
    Surrendering to an army might be smart. Surrendering to a small group of irregular weirdos isn't quite as smart. If you're a bunch of thieves, the punishment for you is probably going to be somewhere between cutting off your hands (on the merciful end) and execution. The thieves also know that they wouldn't hesitate to kill you if they capture you, so they expect the same in return.



    Some of them are.

    Then again, there are traditions...
    I thought that someone would draw the "goblins" card. But let's remember that the PC attacking the goblin's fort arc started as a joke, and names took the sword and the shield.

    What I meant to say is that ussually DM's doesnt consider the creature motivations, they are just cannon fodder. Most monsters arent used in fights the way their int scores should make them fight. A dragon, an ultra smart creature with huge treasures hoards, he knows that his home is an adventurers magnet, yet they ussually choose to fight inside the cave. A dragon's most valuable weapon is not his fire breath or spell casting ability, is the ability to fly. Against low level characters, a young dragon should be delivering firey death from above. Caves and dungeons places dragons in a huge disadvantage.

    And liches, those guys turned themselves into undeads because they didnt wanted to die, it is immortality at all costs. And they have no problem to fight till death? Some of them doesnt even bother to hide well the phylactery.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins View Post
    Sane.... isn't the word I'd use with you, Coplantor. Or myself, in fact. With myself, I'd say obssessive. With you, I'd say.... Coplantor.


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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Why does this title have an "or?" It should read "and."

    Anyhow, there's kind of an unspoken pact between the Good GM (TM) and his players. The Good GM (TM) will only passively try to kill the player characters. Actively trying to kill the players is a terrible game, because the GM is all-powerful in the game world; if he wants level 1 players to fight an ancient red wyrm, well, I'm sure he'll have his good laugh about that. However, any absence of real threat is also a losing proposition, as players can end up bored and/or lacking any reason for behavioral inhibition.

    Now, to what degree you have a Good GM (TM) means you get to take varying levels of risk in your adventures, and so will the villains. You could spend days analyzing the motives for any given encounter to flee/surrender or fight to the death, but that isn't always going to be a factor in the encounter.

    As for why any rational person (PC) would take these risks, well, keep in mind that you're not supposed to be playing average joe. You're playing people with better than average to god-like abilities, so you're not going to have the same motivations as a commoner.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coplantor View Post
    What I meant to say is that ussually DM's doesnt consider the creature motivations, they are just cannon fodder. Most monsters arent used in fights the way their int scores should make them fight. A dragon, an ultra smart creature with huge treasures hoards, he knows that his home is an adventurers magnet, yet they ussually choose to fight inside the cave. A dragon's most valuable weapon is not his fire breath or spell casting ability, is the ability to fly. Against low level characters, a young dragon should be delivering firey death from above. Caves and dungeons places dragons in a huge disadvantage.

    And liches, those guys turned themselves into undeads because they didnt wanted to die, it is immortality at all costs. And they have no problem to fight till death? Some of them doesnt even bother to hide well the phylactery.
    Then you have had terrible DMs. An intelligent monster is only going to let himself fight at a disadvantage if 1) it's actually a trap, or 2) he has no other choice.

    For example, I ran a game where the lich did not, in fact, hide his phylactery, but left it sitting on a pedestal in the main entrance of his tower. It was left there as a challenge to anyone stupid enough to think they could challenge him. The catch: He loaded that thing up with magic, such that destroying it would result in an enormous death spell going off (100mi. radius) and give the lich an opportunity to take over the body of the person who controlled the phylactery.

    Now, if you're an adventurer, that just screams of a challenge to be met, but the lich never expected that anyone could overcome his magic. He wasn't stupid, just arrogant.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hal View Post
    Then you have had terrible DMs. An intelligent monster is only going to let himself fight at a disadvantage if 1) it's actually a trap, or 2) he has no other choice.

    For example, I ran a game where the lich did not, in fact, hide his phylactery, but left it sitting on a pedestal in the main entrance of his tower. It was left there as a challenge to anyone stupid enough to think they could challenge him. The catch: He loaded that thing up with magic, such that destroying it would result in an enormous death spell going off (100mi. radius) and give the lich an opportunity to take over the body of the person who controlled the phylactery.

    Now, if you're an adventurer, that just screams of a challenge to be met, but the lich never expected that anyone could overcome his magic. He wasn't stupid, just arrogant.
    Oh no, most of it comes from gaming exaples, I ussually DM, half the time I let the monsters die because we play late and we are all tired and wish to end the game quickly. Can I take the lich thing for a campaign Im running?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Fullbladder, Master of Goblins View Post
    Sane.... isn't the word I'd use with you, Coplantor. Or myself, in fact. With myself, I'd say obssessive. With you, I'd say.... Coplantor.


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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    I play heavily on the learning side of things. My character likes to know a few things about where he's going before he risks too much. Because I always play supportive, I follow the other PCs around more than lead and I tend to fall into the role of guy who says things like "I have a bad feeling about this". I'm also often right about the danger ahead of us.

    Conversly, when I DM, the players seldom ask me for much detail before rushing off in whatever general direction I point them.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    It would certainly be smarter for your level 1 wizard to study under the town wizard and eventually take over his/her magic shop business or for your level 1 cleric to live a relatively comfortable life as a temple priest/priestess. Additionally, fighting types would be better off aspiring to be skilled tradesmen or merchants (expert class). Even a bard is better off with the relatively safer job as a traveling minstrel instead of an adventurer.

    However, roleplaying "smart" characters who use their skills to maintain comfortable and safe lives isn't very fun

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Well, sometimes it can be fun. Every once in awhile I throw in a Rincewind or an Apropos to shake things up. But the key there is to put the character in a situation where he really has to do something - where the situation itself puts him out of his comfort zone.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Most adventurers either (a) are devoted to An Important Cause, or (b) dump-statted Wisdom.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    I've concluded that most adventurers in any sort of typical game must be afflicted with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Thrill seeking behavior. Little or no remorse for hacking up sentient beings.

    But, even in the real world, the promise of riches can drive otherwise normal people to do dangerous or nasty things. Piracy comes to mind. Your average voluntary dungeon crawl should hold a reward roughly equivalent to capturing a fat merchant ship...or yield far more. After all, there's little chance of dragons guarding a galleon. A dungeon should hold the promises of enough riches to live in relative luxury for the rest of your days.

    Fortunately, for the sake of the story, often something beyond monetary reward makes the characters press on.

    BTW, it's a great idea to sit down and discuss real character motivations for doing this otherwise-crazy-dangerous-stuff before the game starts. "My character got bored of farming and took up a sword" just doesn't fly. That's tantamount to being a moron with no sense of self preservation. My characters tend to be either power hungry (and hoarding magic items and immense wealth is a wonderful avenue to world domination) or they just have a god complex ("Why do I slay dragons? because I can and you can't and never could")
    Last edited by Nefarion Xid; 2008-12-05 at 11:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coplantor View Post
    Oh no, most of it comes from gaming exaples, I ussually DM, half the time I let the monsters die because we play late and we are all tired and wish to end the game quickly. Can I take the lich thing for a campaign Im running?
    Heh, if I said no, would it make any difference?

    Actually, it's not my idea anyhow. I took it from Shamus, here, and this is a reference for the full campaign he ran.

    I ran the campaign my first time DMing. A lot of it probably resulted in railroading, since I tried to set up the world the same way his players experienced it. I think it turned out all right, though, because my players probably weren't looking for anything with a lot of deep thinking. In the end, we all had fun, so what does a little railroading matter?
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Devils_Advocate View Post
    Most adventurers either (a) are devoted to An Important Cause, or (b) dump-statted Wisdom.
    And some don't have an excuse.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    I pick stupidity, but not remarkable stupidity. PCs are heroes, and everybody* wants to be a hero, because they're important and famous and because attractive, available people throw themselves at them. Or maybe they're just badass enough to inspire people. No matter what exactly it is, PCs, and some NPCs (NPC wizards and clerics and adepts such -- the doctors and professors to the rockstars and athletes that are the PCs) are admired.

    Yes, they die young. That's a good thing. When you can level up twice in a week, the world stays sane only by killing off most of the people who would otherwise hit epic levels in about two months. A huge majority, in fact. Most of them even die before they even get rich enough for a casting of reincarnate. The only way to live a long and prosperous life is to retire early.

    Now, heroes don't always live out their retirements so well. Sooner or later they'll burn through their money on feasts and gambling and expensive toys. Or if they're the lawful sort, maybe they're just called out of retirement by their friends/kingdom/order. Either way, old adventurers won't have been "adventuring" for their whole life, at least not without handwaving experience.

    I would say that any sensible character would refuse just about any quest. Most powerful NPCs will be exactly this sort. Cowardly? Yes, because the world of professional adventurers is made up of people who want to be heroes. If they show cowardice, they're no better than an NPC, or at best an unprofessional adventurer.

    Note that the unprofessional adventurer is a perfectly valid archetype. But at some point, they're likely to realize that they're no longer adventuring because they're thrust into the position: people have come to depend on them, or they've forgotten what it's like to not adventure, or the crisis has passed, and they really should be heading home.

    Yes, I do trust my DM to give me reasonable challenges. Yes, I acknowledge that this is absurd -- a realistic level-one random encounter table should have everything from CR1/4 to CR5+, with emphasis on the heavy stuff, because something needs to kill off those adventurers before they get powerful enough tear the established setting apart. We accept that the PCs are the heroes who get lucky enough not to get eaten by a kraken on their way to their first adventure, or anger a ballor the first time they visit the planes. It's how the game works, although I wouldn't mind a one-shot where everything goes wrong as the level 1 PCs try to slay some overpowering foe. It would be like Tomb of Horrors, or early-game NetHack.

    *Or at least everybody who wants to be powerful. In a game about powerful people killing other powerful people, this looks a lot like everybody.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by snoopy13a View Post
    However, roleplaying "smart" characters who use their skills to maintain comfortable and safe lives isn't very fun
    Sure it is. The trick is to run a world where there is no safety; where trying to live a save and comfortable world requires adventurers to hold back hordes of vicious, slavering monsters.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    When I play a smart character I usually can usually point out why undertaking particular quests are stupid, but I let other people talk me into comming along, if only because they`ll be worse off without me. Usually I say "I told you so" when things start to go badly. I tend only to outright quit quests if I feel there's no fighting chance to survive the quest and there are no obvious risks to avoiding it. If it's fight the dragon or die, I'll fight the dragon. If it's you're a first level wizard, fight the dragon with no spells left or don't loot it's treasure... well, I'm richer if I'm poor and alive, right?

    I also generally trust my DMs to not spring horrible inescapable death upon me without any warning... although I've been proven wrong about that before. I don't mind death traps when there's a sign saying "Warning: Death Trap", then it's my own curiosity that gets me killed if I decide to check it out.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    I would say they're a special kind of insane. A bit of both really.

    Any adventurer would have to have figured that there's a lot of them that die, and if they continue on that path they'll meet some horrible end. And if they're really unlucky, there are fates worse than death. What kind of rational person would then go charging straight at it?

    And that insanity that is what gives them so much of their power. If you're an evil goblin chief bent on ruling the world (or at least feeding your starving subordinates, so that your would be rivals will have a hard time gathering support), are you going to expect four or so pink things to make the attempt to stop you? Are you even going to consider them a threat? Only if they're genre savvy. Otherwise they're most likely a paranoid lunatic. Which should put them on about the same level as the PCs and make them into a truly dangerous enemy.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Part of the problem in my opinion is that most players metagame this aspect of being a PC. They know the GM is trying to challenge them without killing them. Even if a fight looks impossible, PCs know in the back of their collective unconscious that there is a way to beat it.

    One thing I tried in my last campaign was I sat the players down and explained that I was doing 2 kinds of encounters in this game. There were combats and escapes (this game was set in a thieves guild and everyone was at least half rogue). Part of the challenge of the escape scene was identifying that it wasn't a normal combat, and then getting away from more powerful foes. I also told them that all the town guards were gestalt (in a non gestalt game) and at least 2 levels higher than the PCs. For all intents and purposes they were agents in the Matrix. The players accepted the escape scene encounters and it worked great.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coplantor View Post
    Everyone in D&D is stupid. I dont think I've seen a fight wich ended with "We surrender!". Really, are those goblins willing to fight to death to protect the stupid almost worthless treasure they have? (Wich might contain magic weapons they didnt even used), or die to protect the pig they stole from the local farmers? And what about thieves assaulting you in the road? Everyone fights to death in D&D. But the only ones doing so knowing they can resurrect are the PC's.
    Funny, I have seen this all the time, and the cases where it didn't happen it made sense, whether it was because someone thought they could win, and the other person knew that they always had the ace up their sleeve that could probably kill all their opponents instantly, or the ghost just isn't afraid as a host body is easy to replace. And sometimes the danger comes after the PCs not the other way around, in which case it is neither bravery nor stupidity, as with counter attacks that need to be done now due to intelligence, such as a new weapon being developed that could seriously tip the scales when mass produced, and it is actually safer to attack with limited information than to give people enough time to start mass production.

    For instance, specific cases in my campaigns. First was a fight between NPC enemies that the PCs managed to orchestrate, four demon mages against a spirit possessing a body known as "The Servant". The demon mages had an advantage, and were confident that they could win, The Servant had a secret weapon, namely that the flask of mercury which held magic to expend could also just blow up the mercury, and not the magic in it, killing everyone at the expense of a few ounces of highly valuable magical mercury. Then there is the sci-fi game, where the companies Hailstorm and Cheaptech were both after the PC's blood(or whatever the robot equivalent is), and Hailstorm had to go before they developed the Helios warhead(which, among other things, involved several pounds of alkali metals, a method to spray them, coated with oil into a large area of air, and then the ability to spray them with water. Nasty weapon.) That and when the team were ambushed by cheaptech robots. The thing in common with all of these was that there was no stupidity, and the fight to the death was justified, either by everyone thinking they would win and come out alive, or because thats what the programming was, or even the knowledge that surrender meant being turned off and reprogrammed.
    I would really like to see a game made by Obryn, Kurald Galain, and Knaight from these forums.

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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    I think you are all missing a major reason as to why adventurers adventure - power, in the sense of XP.

    In the non-metagame sense, there's the wizard on the quest for "ultimate arcane power", wherever he can find it, the swordsman who wants to prove to himself that he's the greatest swordsman in the world, the cleric who wants to grow closer to his god, or the barbarian who just loves a good fight.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    Part of the problem in my opinion is that most players metagame this aspect of being a PC. They know the GM is trying to challenge them without killing them. Even if a fight looks impossible, PCs know in the back of their collective unconscious that there is a way to beat it.
    That's why I describe it that the GM must try to passively kill the players. The thing is, if the GM wants a player dead, he can make it happen. If the GM wants to let his players know that they probably can't beat this encounter, then he ought to send signals to this effect: Overwhelming numbers, NPCs who flee outright, any sort of sign that a being of insane magical power is about to enter the room and they ought not to be there when he does.

    If PCs ignore those signals, you could just kill them outright, but what fun is that?
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by valadil View Post
    Going on the quest is a convention of table top gaming. Your GM put a lot of hard work into making that dungeon and you'd be an ass if you made him throw that away and do something else instead.
    This. As far as I'm concerned, genre conventions trump all other considerations. If everyone else is having to come up with ideas to "persuade" one of the players that this is something their character should want to do, they're being an idiot.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Neither.

    PC's adventure for power. What they want that power for varies but power is the driving motivator.

    A PC can gain power at a truly amazing rate, as in a level every 3 days or being epic level in under a year. Yeah, they have to take risks consummate to the power that they want.

    It's like a guy who wants to be rich. So he works for a few years and saves up 20,000 bucks (for example) and then goes to vegas and puts in all on a single spin of the roulette wheel. He has a 1 in 37 chance of winning, if he does then he walks away with 700,000 bucks. But if he looses then their goes 2 years of hard work.

    Adventurers do the same thing but they bet their lives and try for power. Most fail, but a few succeed. And when they "win", they tend to win big.


    Now the PC's might be fortunate to only run into challenges that they can actually beat. They are the lucky ones. Most adventurers run into that CR 12 monster on their first quest and end up dead.
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    Default Re: Are PCs brave or just plain stupid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coplantor View Post
    Everyone in D&D is stupid. I dont think I've seen a fight wich ended with "We surrender!". Really, are those goblins willing to fight to death to protect the stupid almost worthless treasure they have? (Wich might contain magic weapons they didnt even used), or die to protect the pig they stole from the local farmers? And what about thieves assaulting you in the road? Everyone fights to death in D&D. But the only ones doing so knowing they can resurrect are the PC's.
    Well, in my games, most humanoids and monstruous humanoids start fighting to the death, but as soon as things start getting ugly, chances are quite a few will turn tail and flee, or surrender. In fact, my players have been making use of bigger area effects lately, because they hate it when some of the people they fight escape yelling in terror and warn everyone else within a two mile radius. It's not good for their health - the Nomad/Maverick Voidshaper has been dubbed Most Valuable Person in the team repeteadly, for his ability to both pursue runners and get the group the hell out of dodge with a quadruple-reach Dimension Door when reinforcements, patrols, or other random things attracted by the escapees, come .
    Last edited by Drascin; 2008-12-06 at 03:33 PM.

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