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Ganging up on your foes-aren't these guys supposed to be heroes?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Adamantine Dragon wrote:


In combat it's all about winning. Losers aren't good or evil. They're just dead.

I wish I could sig this.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
In combat it's all about winning. Losers aren't good or evil. They're just dead.

Lots of things that are true about real combat make for crappy heroic fantasy. This is one of them.


jasonfahy wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
In combat it's all about winning. Losers aren't good or evil. They're just dead.
Lots of things that are true about real combat make for crappy heroic fantasy. This is one of them.

I find that my heroic fantasy is fantastically heroic using exactly this philosophy.

In fact, I would consider someone who did not go balls out in combat to win because of some misguided scruples downright stupid.

And there's nothing heroic about stupidity.


Avg party charisma + avg party level + bonus + d20 roll
Dc 20 for the group to be recognized for good or ill. If for example they take no prisoners everyone fights to the death and won't accept their surrender.

Bonus is a culmalitive value assigned for noteworthy events e.g killing a well known and feared villain can net them from +1 to +3 depending on how big an effect it has.

Roll prior to an encounter series e.g. entering a town or attacking a fortress.

In my games you can never assume someone's evil if their of a mortal race. Demons and angels are obviously examples of exceptions.


Wow, there are a lot of comments along the lines of "Combat is gritty, get over heroism" as if the GM has no control of it. The GM runs the game, if someone on the side dies, it's because the NPCs attacked someone on the sidelines and let that person die (or the PCs are especially heinous and attacked the sideliner). If the game is gritty, it's because the GM willed it to be so.

This GM asked how to encourage heroic behavior, and yet there are so many who tell him to get over it and act like there is nothing he can do. It's not true and it's discouraging.

Rule 0 - You run the game, rules are a guideline, you can change them to keep the game fun and to fit your setting.

Anyway, the default rules encourage the players to gang up on enemies by making that more advantageous. Flanking bonuses, sneak attacks, more chances of attacks of opportunity, 5foot steps. To encourage the opposite behavior (taking enemies one to one rather than ganging up on a single one) will be extremely difficult without changing the rules or adding bonuses to make one-to-one more advantageous and keeping it interesting once honorable behavior is encouraged will require multiple enemies (to keep all the PCs involved).


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
jasonfahy wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
In combat it's all about winning. Losers aren't good or evil. They're just dead.
Lots of things that are true about real combat make for crappy heroic fantasy. This is one of them.

I find that my heroic fantasy is fantastically heroic using exactly this philosophy.

In fact, I would consider someone who did not go balls out in combat to win because of some misguided scruples downright stupid.

And there's nothing heroic about stupidity.

There's also nothing heroic about - well, anyway. I'm glad you're enjoying it.


jasonfahy wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
jasonfahy wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
In combat it's all about winning. Losers aren't good or evil. They're just dead.
Lots of things that are true about real combat make for crappy heroic fantasy. This is one of them.

I find that my heroic fantasy is fantastically heroic using exactly this philosophy.

In fact, I would consider someone who did not go balls out in combat to win because of some misguided scruples downright stupid.

And there's nothing heroic about stupidity.

I'll pass that on to Sir Thomas Malory.

LOL, you are aware that all that famous "chivalry" you seem to be pining for only applied to protected groups, right? If you weren't one of the protected groups, then lopping off heads right and left was perfectly acceptable.

Spare me.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:


LOL, you are aware that all that famous "chivalry" you seem to be pining for only applied to protected groups, right? If you weren't one of the protected groups, then lopping off heads right and left was perfectly acceptable.

Spare me.

I think the disconnect we're having is that you keep thinking I'm advocating Arthurian chivalry in the real world, where it doesn't work and never really did.

What I'm advocating is a place for Arthurian chivalry in heroic fantasy, where it works very well. The idea has inspired writers for centuries and has inspired enough gamers that they created a 'shining knight' class in our game.

I'd appreciate it if you'd make more effort to understand me, and a little less to be scathing and dismissive.


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jasonfahy wrote:


I think the disconnect we're having is that you keep thinking I'm advocating Arthurian chivalry in the real world, where it doesn't work and never really did.

What I'm advocating is a place for Arthurian chivalry in heroic fantasy, where it works very well. The idea has inspired writers for centuries and has inspired enough gamers that they created a 'shining knight' class in our game.

I'd appreciate it if you'd make more effort to understand me, and a little less to be scathing and dismissive.

Heh. Believe me jason, I gave you more credit than to think that you would advocate Arthurian "chivalry" in the real world. If I thought that I truly would have been scathing and dismissive. I believe I have understood you perfectly.

Play how you like. But if I'm in a game with you, don't expect me to agree with your notions about chivalry in heroic fantasy. And if I'm the GM and you want to play that way, expect my BBEGs to exploit your naivetee.

Because my heroic fantasy is more heroic that way.

My good and even neutral characters are quite chivalrous. They will give the bad guys every opportunity to surrender and will treat them fairly if they do.

But if they insist on mortal combat.

Well, that's why they call it "mortal combat."


Now I do think that some things such as evil spells would not be used by heroes in a fantasy setting that are used in real life. As far as ganging up on someone I don't look it at as ganging up on them.

If the fight was a contest to determine who the best combatant was then "ganging up" is wrong, but this is not the situation. Each side's main goal in combat is to protect their country/belief/etc. That is the primary goal, and barring evil spells or anything else that the core game might call evil anything goes.

You are not in a war/battle/etc to see who can fight best one on one. You are expected to use all the resources at your control. If you can outsmart the other guy or if you are able to obtain access to better resources then you get to win.

I am sure that the CR 12 devil(closest to honorable evil) is not going to tie on hand behind his back just because the level 3 warrior has no chance to defeat him in combat.

PS:I know levels don't exist beyond breaking the 4th wall, but my point was that nobody gives up advantages to even the score, and since the PC's never(is not guaranteed knowledge) know how tough an opponent might be it would be silly to do so.

That goblin might have 12 levels of ranger. Next thing you know the level 9 fighter that goes after him one on one gets to have a funeral.

These things work in books, for the same reason they work in other forms of literature. They are part of a plot device. As a PC you don't generally get plot armor. You fight to win or else you might get a brand new character sheet.

Andoran

I tend to agree with the OP's issues.

The way most games are run players are actively discouraged from doing anything particularly heroic. Sure, it makes sense for the heroes to team up to defeat the dragon that's 20 times their size but what about the human villain. When the 5th level party finally encounters the CR 7 BBEG (a 8th level rogue) they will just surround and pummel him. What happened to the days when the paladin would defeat the villain in single combat?


I usually fight the BBEG all alone, but it's because I'm chaotic neutral, and so don't have friends; the ones I do have come to bad ends and all.


Feral wrote:

I tend to agree with the OP's issues.

The way most games are run players are actively discouraged from doing anything particularly heroic. Sure, it makes sense for the heroes to team up to defeat the dragon that's 20 times their size but what about the human villain. When the 5th level party finally encounters the CR 7 BBEG (a 8th level rogue) they will just surround and pummel him. What happened to the days when the paladin would defeat the villain in single combat?

Flanking Bonuses

Sneak Attack
5 foot Step


The party has no way to know class levels. Some GM's and players even try to make their characters look like a different class. That CR 7 class is still normally too much for a one on one fight. If they group says only 3 of us will fight him, and the dice gods interfere the bad guy is not going to start feeling sorry for them because they held back. Being a humanoid race does not mean you are any less dangerous than a monster.


Feral wrote:
I What happened to the days when the paladin would defeat the villain in single combat?

There are paladin threads on that. The GM's tend to get upset, and say the paladin is OP. The rest of the players also do not like to stand around doing nothing.

I have never heard of this as normal strategy even from players that ran 1st and 2nd edition. I don't think this was the typical style of play. I played 2nd edition for a year, and I never saw intentional one on one combat.


wraithstrike wrote:
Feral wrote:
I What happened to the days when the paladin would defeat the villain in single combat?
I have never heard of this as normal strategy even from players that ran 1st and 2nd edition. I don't think this was the typical style of play. I played 2nd edition for a year, and I never saw intentional one on one combat.

I don't remember it happening in any edition. If the paladin's soloing the villain, either you're doing a solo campaign or you might have things tuned a little too easy. :)


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OK, so I am a heroic fantasy character and my goal is to save the world by defeating the evil villain who wants to enslave the world.

I fight my way through wave after wave of minions, traps and diversions.

Finally, I am face to face with the evil bastard, along with the surviving members of my team.

Now, the world hangs in the balance. If we don't defeat the evil dude, the demonic portal will be opened, or the all powerful maguffin will be released.

What is my responsibility as a force of good?

"OK, you guys sit this out so we can make this a fair fight where a flip of the coin decides the fate of the world."

How very heroic. It just makes my heart flutter to know that my family, my friends, my entire world could be saved if four heroes defeat the BBEG, but because one addle-pated fool wanted to "play fair" and rolled a 1 on his first attack, my descendants will be enslaved by demons for all eternity.

How heroic.


Why would you run a level 8 rogue as a solo BBEG? you lose alot of potential damage, actually one of the few level 8 PC classes that a level 5 might be able to win 1v1 but still the risk (needing to get a new character) is higher than the reward (getting the same loot you would get if you all jumped him). Even my Paladins while they might be lawful good arent lawful stupid I will accept fair challenges but if its going to be an unfair fight ill tell the NPC that he lost the right to die in honorable combat when he did X (some morally reprehensible act that the paladin knows about).

I know my PFS party isnt exactly the nicest people in the world but we do take surrenders, however when it comes to a fight we will focus 1 target at a time because it drops them faster so we can take less damage.

The only time to mark multiple opponents is if they are all spellcasters and you dont want them getting easy magic.

Andoran

Michael Foster 989 wrote:
Why would you run a level 8 rogue as a solo BBEG?

Because you want it to be a reasonable challenge for one of the PCs to defeat in a heroic duel.

Andoran

wraithstrike wrote:
There are paladin threads on that. The GM's tend to get upset, and say the paladin is OP. The rest of the players also do not like to stand around doing nothing.

It was a hypothetical example. Replace paladin with fighter, barbarian, wizard, or whatever.

I'm not suggesting every dungeon/story arc/whatever end with a 1 on 1 battle against one of the PCs. There are times when it makes thematic sense for the PCs to swarm the BBEG (the dragon for example) but when climatic battle with the bandit chief, orc warlord, or archdruid terrorist comes up why not provide the PCs more chances to do stuff in single combat?

Obviously a large part of this depends on DM to player communication.


Sorry. I thought you actually meant the pally. In any event the rest of the group standing around is not considered as fun to many people.
I just don't see it as practical,even in fantasy land, to risk the lives of the common people, and others for a duel. If single combat happens it is because the bad guy has managed to isolate a player, but my sense of verisimilitude does not accept it as a willing action.

In the end the players and the PC's don't want to give up any advantages, and while this is often cool in a story where there is only one hero/character it does not seem plausible to most people in an actual game.

Now if the player's background has NPC X screwing him over, and he ask for the fight I might do it then, but I can't see anyone(that I have ever gamed with) agreeing to it otherwise.

In a certain AP there is a one on one duel, but the party's selected dueler was buffed as much as possible by the other party members before that fight also.


I think the challenge is a rare occurance even for heroic champions. If you do not want your players ganging up on opponents through multiple ememies at them, particularly in waves. Heroic does not mean poor tactics as many have pointed out this does not necessarily have to fall into the war is hell milleu.

Superman flys in solo and takes them all on alone.

Batman drops behind the BBEBG in the shadows and BBEBG wakes in a cell.

Whose heroic?

Captain America takes on Zemo and a hundred minions to avert nuclear war.

The fantasic four using teamwork save the galaxy by facing down the Superskrull.

Whose heroic?


Adamantine Dragon wrote:


Now, the world hangs in the balance. If we don't defeat the evil dude, the demonic portal will be opened, or the all powerful maguffin will be released.

What is my responsibility as a force of good?

"OK, you guys sit this out so we can make this a fair fight where a flip of the coin decides the fate of the world."

How very heroic. It just makes my heart flutter to know that my family, my friends, my entire world could be saved if four heroes defeat the BBEG, but because one addle-pated fool wanted to "play fair" and rolled a 1 on his first attack, my descendants will be enslaved by demons for all eternity.

How heroic.

Hey, I get that - I relate very strongly to my renegade (ruthless badass hero) Shepard in Mass Effect, who thinks that paragons (noble idealistic heroes) are lovely people but fights as tough and dirty as she can, to ensure that she wins. Because the human race is counting on her to win.

I guess the conceit in the Arthurian stories, and all those others, is that the good guy is made stronger by his idealistic, incorruptible nature - a fight that might look like a coin toss, actually isn't because God (or whatever) lends the good guy the strength to prevail. They're morality tales. Be good, kids, and you'll win when it really matters.

I grew up on those stories, and even though I'm more cynical now I still dig the idea of them on some level - and RPGs are my way of reconnecting with them.

If the BBEG is threatening our families and friends IRL I'll claw, bite, spit and use poison and flaming oil. :)


Ring a ring a rosy, a pocket full of posie, a tissue a tissue we all fall down.


I just realized I never knew what a posie was.


Mr. Swagger wrote:
I just realized I never knew what a posie was.

I thought it was a kind of flower, but Google and Wikipedia are telling me it's a small bouquet of any kind. That's two things I've learned today - better get to bed before I hit three.


jasonfahy wrote:


I guess the conceit in the Arthurian stories, and all those others, is that the good guy is made stronger by his idealistic, incorruptible nature - a fight that might look like a coin toss, actually isn't because God (or whatever) lends the good guy the strength to prevail. They're morality tales. Be good, kids, and you'll win when it really matters.

I grew up on those stories, and even though I'm more cynical now I still dig the idea of them on some level - and RPGs are my way of reconnecting with them.

You and I perceive this situation as differently as possible.

There is nothing whatsoever heroic about the situation if the "hero" wins because of divine intervention.

None. God could wave his hand and win the day at any time. Doing so because the "good guy" washes his hands after he pees is just lame. And the very opposite of "heroic." In this scenario the only "hero" is god, and since god can whip anyone, even that isn't heroic.


If God is helping him now is that any different than his buddies helping? Either way he did not do it on his own so it really was not one on one.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

You and I perceive this situation as differently as possible.

Yeah, I've been closing in on that conclusion over the last couple hours myself. Well...good talk.


wraithstrike wrote:
If God is helping him now is that any different than his buddies helping? Either way he did not do it on his own so it really was not one on one.

Because God can't lose. Because the whole point of being a hero is that you're the hero. The entire argument here is that it is heroic for the character to go "mano a mano" against the BBEG, but then the twist is that "God will win for you if he wants."

Sorry, not buying the heroism of God throwing his weight behind the "hero" who would otherwise lose.

Buddies aren't God.

And buddies get to be played by the other players sitting at the table who'd rather not be your cheering section while you play glory-hound spotlight stealer while god does all the actual work.


in the games i play the only reasons for a one on one fight are:
1)Paired off: the pc's have engaged a group of villans who have isolated them into a series of one-on-one fights. after the first fight is determined the freed up PC or Villan will generally rush to the aid of whichever of their companions is doing worst in their duel.
2)Arena fight: the rules of the game are being enforced and you can either go 1v1 or the baddies will kill the hostages/activate the superweapon/withhold your pay.
3)... yeah, i haven't run into any threes yet.

PCs are generally fighting for survival and often for some greater goal as well. this doesn't lend itself to a 'Marquess of Queensberry' type fight with the big bad after A)fighting through all his minions, traps and ambushes and B) likely being at a serious disadvantage in one on one due to relative strength/terrain/expended resources/evil villan union-issue gear/ect.

there are a couple of classes that can encourage one on one fights (Cav and Pal are the two that spring to mind) but unless you'll gain a solid advantage from doing so then i can't see any real reason for PCs to sacrifice themselves for vainglorious 'honour'.


jasonfahy wrote:
Mr. Swagger wrote:
I just realized I never knew what a posie was.
I thought it was a kind of flower, but Google and Wikipedia are telling me it's a small bouquet of any kind. That's two things I've learned today - better get to bed before I hit three.

Specifically in this context its a small boquet kept in the pocket to ward off the black death, a failed attempt as indicated by the rest of the rhyme.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:
If God is helping him now is that any different than his buddies helping? Either way he did not do it on his own so it really was not one on one.

Because God can't lose. Because the whole point of being a hero is that you're the hero. The entire argument here is that it is heroic for the character to go "mano a mano" against the BBEG, but then the twist is that "God will win for you if he wants."

Sorry, not buying the heroism of God throwing his weight behind the "hero" who would otherwise lose.

Buddies aren't God.

And buddies get to be played by the other players sitting at the table who'd rather not be your cheering section while you play glory-hound spotlight stealer while god does all the actual work.

We agree. I could not tell if you quoted me to build on my point or if you misunderstood me though.


Thinking about this some more - if you're making up stories, there are a few reasons you might have your protagonist limit himself, actually hurting his chances to win.

1. Morality lesson - it teaches that you don't jettison your principles just because they're inconvenient. (I like this one.)

2. Conformity lesson - it teaches that you follow the rules and meet your social expectations even if they don't appear to make sense. (This one I find rather icky, but I'm sure you'll agree this message gets put out there sometimes.)

3. Drama - we're cheering for the good guy, but we know this fight's going to be close, so it's tense. Wait - and now the emperor's giving Feyd a poisoned knife while Paul's just got a regular one? Now it's even tenser! (This one's good too. It's not the only way to do tension, but it's one more thing in the toolkit.)

Not only that, the good guy has been showing through the whole story that these rules (whether or not they make sense) are important to him. Sticking with them is part of his character. A tough fight can push him into the position where fudging would save his life - will he do it? (Do we want him to?) If that's written well, then the bad guy constitutes a physical and a moral threat - not only might he kill you, he might cause you to betray your code in the process of winning.

If, after all that, the good guy prevails, it really feels like he's earned it because the silly magnificent bastard not only survived, but refused to give up on his beliefs even though they made things harder.


Mortagon wrote:
I know it is a sound tactic, but is it just me or is it not exceptionally unheroic when the PC's just gang up on their foe and beat him senseless?

If you have a single challenge, your party will gang up on it. That is just the nature of this game; in its combat aspects it is a team combat game. And it's as much about fun as tactics. You can't ask three party members to sit out while one fights - at least, not with any regularity.


wraithstrike wrote:
If God is helping him now is that any different than his buddies helping? Either way he did not do it on his own so it really was not one on one.

I think they would heartily agree with that. The characters (and many real people) saw themselves as their god's instruments on Earth, and believed that by putting themselves in the right places and acting virtuously, they might be the means by which he worked his will. At the end of the miraculous victory in Henry V, the song they're singing is "Non nobis domine" - "Not ours, but your glory, Lord". We take no credit for this victory, Lord, it was all you.

If you ported that same idea into a Pathfinder world, it should be a pretty easy sell. There's way more evidence that gods exist, and that they intervene to help their servants. "The Goddess bids us follow this code. If we do she will be pleased with us, and give us the power to crush her enemies."

(On that level, the fight isn't supposed to be fair. The lesson, both IRL and in the fantasy world, would be that by yourself, maybe you can't handle this - but if you're an obedient servant of your deity, they will help you and then the bad guys don't have a chance.)

=======================================================================

If your point was more like "how is that heroic if God's going to step in and make you win"...that one's trickier but here's my attempt:

1. God isn't guaranteed to step in - good guys do lose and die.

2. God will only step in to help a 'righteous' hero - one who puts up with all the crazy, occasionally-nonsensical restrictions that have been placed upon him. So ultimately, it comes down to you - your moral fiber or lack thereof. Will you take the 'leap of faith' and follow the code? Or will you give up on your principles because it isn't fun having them today? We know this isn't a sure thing, because we see people cheating and taking the low road all the time.


Coriat wrote:
Mortagon wrote:
I know it is a sound tactic, but is it just me or is it not exceptionally unheroic when the PC's just gang up on their foe and beat him senseless?
If you have a single challenge, your party will gang up on it. That is just the nature of this game; in its combat aspects it is a team combat game. And it's as much about fun as tactics. You can't ask three party members to sit out while one fights - at least, not with any regularity.

Also - this sounds metagame-y but the reasoning works on the in-game level as well - if you're with three buddies, and I walk up and announce that I'm going to eat supper out of your four skulls...what does that tell you about me?

Either I'm a megalomaniac...or I actually have reason to believe I can take you. In a world with magic, the second option is extremely plausible and that means you should take me extremely seriously.


I'm gonna paraphrase, using my own words, an idea that is put fourth in pretty much every Western-based Heroic Fantasy I've ever gotten my hands on:

"The bards would have ye believe adventuring is all glory and riches. Bah, I tell ye they're wrong. Adventuring is ugly, dirty, tiring, hard work where ye'd be just as happy to find a hot meal and warm bed as to find a shiny gemstone."

Andoran

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FuelDrop wrote:

in the games i play the only reasons for a one on one fight are:

1)Paired off: the pc's have engaged a group of villans who have isolated them into a series of one-on-one fights. after the first fight is determined the freed up PC or Villan will generally rush to the aid of whichever of their companions is doing worst in their duel.
2)Arena fight: the rules of the game are being enforced and you can either go 1v1 or the baddies will kill the hostages/activate the superweapon/withhold your pay.
3)... yeah, i haven't run into any threes yet.

PCs are generally fighting for survival and often for some greater goal as well. this doesn't lend itself to a 'Marquess of Queensberry' type fight with the big bad after A)fighting through all his minions, traps and ambushes and B) likely being at a serious disadvantage in one on one due to relative strength/terrain/expended resources/evil villan union-issue gear/ect.

there are a couple of classes that can encourage one on one fights (Cav and Pal are the two that spring to mind) but unless you'll gain a solid advantage from doing so then i can't see any real reason for PCs to sacrifice themselves for vainglorious 'honour'.

Ah, FuelDrop--

Wonderful post, like so many of yours I see here, there, and everywhere around these boards. I agree entirely-- then again, personally I think Chivalry = stupidity + hypocrisy + arrogance + glory-seeking + pride; and the overwhelming majority of my characters always approach lethal (or almost certainly lethal) combat the way Soldiers do.

Regarding your reasons above, though-- I can think of 2 more reasons why a "1 on 1" or 'Formal Duel' combat may occur in game (and such things have happened in games I've played, btw)--

Reason 3: It's some sort of honor-duel ("you have insulted me... I demand satisfaction!") that, like so many of the real duels in the Renaissance and later times, really isn't supposed to be lethal-- someone draws first blood, someone gets cut-- someone apologizes, fight's over. There's some risk since you're probably using sharp weapons or real spells, but your life isn't supposed to be on the line AND there's likely to be an audience, so it stays "1 on 1" and generally stays really clean and honorable (especially since, win or lose, you're going to have to live with the reputation you earn). But, of course, that's not hard-core combat for survival, war-fighting, and defense of home and loved ones (this can also simply be "fights" for entertainment or competitive sport, even gladiatorial games that aren't intended to be lethal, rather than over some lesser insult or another). This sort of thing also applies to why Tournament combats are usually really clean and honorably fought.

Reason 4: It's some sort of duel that may be quite lethal, but the sides are sufficiently afraid of "collateral damage" and all sorts of other problems arising if others get involved in the fight-- so they agree to settle it one on one... This is again, usually prearranged, may have societal and other pressures helping to enforce obedience to a 'Code Duello', probably is going to have an audience-- and is likely to remain a "1 on 1" fight-- but since it's otherwise "no holds barred", I'd expect it to remain just clean enough that the winner isn't going to pick up a really bad reputation. And, it's again the sort of fight where the consequences to people not directly involved in the duel are likely to be quite limited. I see this sort of thing happening with two people who really hate each other, but who are nominally on the same side, belong to the same Royal Court or are Officers in the same Army, and that sort of thing.

This could also happen in those situations where two sides arrange a 'Battle of Champions' to settle issues that would otherwise be fought out between respective Armies-- resulting in lots of casualties and massive destruction, that both sides agree is not worth it if they can settle the dispute through champions instead (however, it's quite likely that the losing side of the 'Champions' battle may not respect the outcome, if the penalties for losing the dispute are too great).

Andoran

And now, back to a comment on the OP's initial post:

Mortagon wrote:

Our group usually play heroic fantasy where the Pc's are good guys racing to stop the numerous evils the world has to offer. I have a strict "no evil alignments" policy in my games and most of the time my player's have good alignments. But there is certain things which bugs me and takes me out of the heroic feel of the game, mainly my player's tendency to use dirty tactics to gain an edge in combat.

I know it is a sound tactic, but is it just me or is it not exceptionally unheroic when the PC's just gang up on their foe and beat him senseless?

IMO, while there are others who agree with you on this, I don't. I don't see anything wrong with PCs ganging up on their foe and beating him senseless. There are few things in war, open battle, fights for survival, etc., that I would see as truly dirty tactics so long as the enemy was still "in the fight" (aka, justifiably regarded as an active combatant). There are some lines that PCs really shouldn't cross anyway, IMO (these are akin to what modern Soldiers respect in the 'Laws of War' though-- and a foe that violated those principles themselves, could expect quite a bit less mercy from any of my PCs after they'd done that-- my PCs would and do respect those sorts of rules because it's the right thing to do).

I understand though, that my view of what's acceptable and what isn't in a fantasy game is different than your desires in a game, and that's okay-- there's room in the gaming world for both of our sorts of games.

Mortagon wrote:


Or when they strike down a helpless foe even one begging for its life with the argument that this is an evil creature which needs to be put down no matter what (which they back up by using in game effects like detect evil and knowledge checks).

Now this, I agree with you on... there's really no excuse for characters who are supposed to be "good" enacting summary justice on a creature solely because "it's evil" (aka, it pinged my 'detect evil' spell), unless there was no other choice and it truly was an unacceptable risk to everyone involved to just let the creature go. Maybe if they're chaotic, and they have thorough knowledge of this creature's capital crimes (not just an alignment tendency), I could see such a PC rendering 'summary justice' on the foe that's attempting to surrender-- but otherwise, killing in this circumstance usually amounts to cold-blooded murder, IMO (yes, there are some other exceptions to the usual case-- such as, if this was someone who'd surrendered to the party before, then tried to betray/backstab the party when he got the chance-- he doesn't get to surrender twice, he just gets killed the second time-- the breach of trust the first time is sufficient justification to consider summary justice a "necessary evil").

Ordinarily, I'd expect good characters to take prisoners if creatures surrender to them, and to take them somewhere for trial, verdict, and punishment if guilty... or some other such solution found to neutralize/exile potential problems to somewhere where they can't do any harm. However, I also don't believe in absolute alignment systems for most creatures (racial alignments are tendencies, as far as I'm concerned-- creatures can learn new ways, too-- the only exceptions are certain creatures who are specifically tied to extraplanar aligned forces, such as Demons, Daemons, Devils....).

I am aware that some folks do run alignment for all creatures as absolutes, and assume that it's a good act to kill any evil-aligned creature. To each their own-- they can do that in their games. Without going too far into the alignment discussion, IMO, it's essentially saying that "Good" isn't really "Good", it's "Team Blue" and "Evil" isn't really "Evil", it's "Team Orange" (before someone flames that, understand that this is my impression of the effect of playing the game that way-- but no-one's impression, mine included, is any sort of "One True Way" to play the game).

Mortagon wrote:


...I mainly want advice on how one can evoke a more heroic feel in ones Pathfinder games without forcing my players to act a certain way.

I don't know 'bout the more chivalric, "honorable" combat styles you'd like. Can't really help ya there, because my reflexes towards how you react to mortal combat are a little too ingrained to be malleable.

Regarding the other parts of 'honorable', 'good' behavior-- such as not capping helpless prisoners all the time: make it clear by the way the rest of the world views the PCs as word gets out that they murder people who try to surrender to them. Make it clear that they're losing popular support and respect from the community, they're losing valuable sources of information, losing current enemies that could be influenced and eventually turned into potential allies... then start making fights progressively harder, because as word gets around, foes are not only going to always fight to the death instead of trying surrender, foes who think that they're losing to the PCs are going to become increasingly desperate because they know what kind of heartless bastards these PCs are. Have some of the unjustifiably killed enemies have relatives and friends out there, who are going to be far more motivated to seek revenge against the PCs than they would be if the PCs had accepted 'honorable surrenders'.

If none of that works, and your players are genuinely behaving in a non-good fashion in word and deed all the time, tell 'em "Congratulations, you're */Neutral now (not */Good)" (and let any of the characters with divine ties suffer the consequences if their alignment has slipped too far from their deity's.


@Finn K: you just made my day. it's nice to be appreciated. both of your reasons are good (they're probably the intent behind UC's dueling rules) but neither have ever come up in a game i play or DM, so they slipped my mind.

Andoran

FuelDrop wrote:
@Finn K: you just made my day. it's nice to be appreciated. both of your reasons are good (they're probably the intent behind UC's dueling rules) but neither have ever come up in a game i play or DM, so they slipped my mind.

YW. :D


I'd say morality must *always* take a back seat to practicality.

Let's perform a simple thought experiment. Take the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Replace all orcs with men.

When would the fellowship of the ring be able to take prisoners without endangering their world saving quest?

The answer? At Pelargir it might be possible for the corsairs to be left as prisoners if their ships were insufficient to transport the entire fighting force of the region to Minas Tirith. Then again anyone who doesn't have a place on a boat should probably start marching so there's still nobody to watch prisoners. Other than that dubious case and a similar but slightly less dubious case in Rohan there is no point where the heroic quest wouldn't be thwarted by attempts to take prisoners. You can't take prisoners with you to Mordor. The stakes are too high to give them parole. There's nobody who can hold them for you. You can't backtrack.

Prisoners are for coppers and bounty hunters and lawful neutral armies fighting other lawful neutral armies. Heroes are too busy saving the world or whatever fraction thereof is appropriate to their APL to deal with prisoners.

Andoran

Atarlost wrote:

I'd say morality must *always* take a back seat to practicality.

That's essentially saying that the Ends always justify the Means. And that, most philosophers who consider the nature of good and evil would agree, is certainly not "good".

My view on it:

Put a different way-- sometimes you don't have the means to take and deal with prisoners and you can't let the enemy survivors go (too great a risk that they'll be back with friends or put you through a deadly ambush later)-- then maybe it's justified to kill enemies who try to surrender.

Otherwise-- sure, you can tell yourself that you had to do it, that you "had no choice"-- the heroes may still be fighting for good causes, with the best of intentions... but they are no longer "good" themselves in any meaningful sense, if they take these actions with all enemies.

The PCs will also likely be branded as criminals sooner or later, even by their "own side" if word gets out that this is how they treat everyone they fight against (unless of course their enemies are all "Orange" and the PCs are "Blue"-- or the local Kingdom doesn't really qualify as "good either, and doesn't care about the sentients the PCs are killing). The PCs' Enemies should probably also 'coup de grace' any PC who goes down and doesn't immediately get rescued... word's gonna get around, and their opponents (especially if they're "orange", oops, I mean "evil") especially shouldn't be at all merciful to the PCs under these circumstances.

Seriously, I really don't like games that encourage things that are rightly regarded as 'crimes against humanity' and/or 'war crimes' in modern times, and this definitely crosses that line.

BTW- in 'Lord of the Rings' (the books), I don't think any Orcs ever tried to surrender... sort of relieves one of worrying about that necessity. Although it wasn't emphasized especially well, at the Battle of Helm's Deep, the Rohirrim accepted the surrender of the Dunlending men who had fought for Saruman, and took them prisoner (according to the books). Also according to the books, the Armies of the West (Gondor and Rohan) took prisoners and ultimately gave out pardons to many of the men who'd fought for Sauron after winning the Battle of the Morannon (because Frodo, Gollum, and Sam, between them-- managed to put the ring in the fire). Pelennor Fields was one of those "no surrender" battles for all parties involved-- no mercy was shown because no quarter was asked. Can't find any reports on the Battle of Pelargir-- but in the books, since it happened in one of Gondor's ports, and Aragorn brought many living allies with him on the ships, beyond his own small band of rangers-- his forces probably did take some of the Corsairs of Umbar prisoner.

So, even your recourse to the example of 'Lord of the Rings' actually proves the other side's case.


Atarlost wrote:

I'd say morality must *always* take a back seat to practicality.

That stands the very definition of the concept of morality on its head.


FuelDrop wrote:

in the games i play the only reasons for a one on one fight are:

1)Paired off: the pc's have engaged a group of villans who have isolated them into a series of one-on-one fights. after the first fight is determined the freed up PC or Villan will generally rush to the aid of whichever of their companions is doing worst in their duel.
2)Arena fight: the rules of the game are being enforced and you can either go 1v1 or the baddies will kill the hostages/activate the superweapon/withhold your pay.
3)... yeah, i haven't run into any threes yet.

Another reason for one-on-one duels is a classic in the literature: The villain and his minions have the heroes outnumbered and outpowered but a hero challenges him to a duel and due to arrogance or pride or not daring to look weak in front of his men he accepts.

Would it be frustrating to the other players if every climax was a duel, especially if it was always the same PC fighting? Definitely. Done sparingly, it can be fun, even for the spectators. Who can also be watching for, or even preparing, treachery.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I think there is still times when ganging up on a clearly superior foe is both heroic and necessary, but what if the pc's know that their foe is clearly outmatched and that he stands no chance against them (or at least they believe it to be so). I would expect a good aligned group to say something like: "You are clearly outmatched, surrender and we will spare your life."

Still it's interesting to see the different views people have on this subject. I agree with a lot of what is said here. And just so people don't misunderstand me, I have played a lot of gritty Campaigns where things aren't so black and white and adventuring is a dirty business. I just wanted to see if it was possible to get a more "heroic" feel in Pathfinder without penalizing the players.


Mortagon wrote:

I think there is still times when ganging up on a clearly superior foe is both heroic and necessary, but what if the pc's know that their foe is clearly outmatched and that he stands no chance against them (or at least they believe it to be so). I would expect a good aligned group to say something like: "You are clearly outmatched, surrender and we will spare your life."

Still it's interesting to see the different views people have on this subject. I agree with a lot of what is said here. And just so people don't misunderstand me, I have played a lot of gritty Campaigns where things aren't so black and white and adventuring is a dirty business. I just wanted to see if it was possible to get a more "heroic" feel in Pathfinder without penalizing the players.

In 2e, fighters/paladins/rangers got extra xp for foes defeated in single combat, and we DEFINITELY had times that the party's heavy hitters would say "this one's mine" toward the end of battles.

Apart from the "single combat" part, which has been covered, I would argue your group is playing a little fast and loose with their supposed good (and lawful?) alignments. That an act may be expedient, prudent, or necessary doesn't make it "in-bounds" behavior for an alignment that would otherwise preclude such behavior.

If "good" aligned characters are routinely engaging in non-good behavior because it's advantageous to do so, they aren't good. It's not even a discussion about whether or not the conduct is advantageous. I'll stipulate that it is. They are neutral or evil and they happen to also be kind or perceive an advantage to being seen as being good at times.


jasonfahy wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:


LOL, you are aware that all that famous "chivalry" you seem to be pining for only applied to protected groups, right? If you weren't one of the protected groups, then lopping off heads right and left was perfectly acceptable.

Spare me.

I think the disconnect we're having is that you keep thinking I'm advocating Arthurian chivalry in the real world, where it doesn't work and never really did.

What I'm advocating is a place for Arthurian chivalry in heroic fantasy, where it works very well. The idea has inspired writers for centuries and has inspired enough gamers that they created a 'shining knight' class in our game.

I'd appreciate it if you'd make more effort to understand me, and a little less to be scathing and dismissive.

I think you need to re-read your Arthurian Legends - Uther was a rapist. Arthur was a dead-beat father, an inattentive husband, and committed genocide across Europe and the Holy Land. Lancelot was an adulterer and murderer of children. Gawain, Kay and Modred were traitors to their King, Gawain killed innocents in blind rage, Kay was a Fratricide. Modred's evil was boundless. Bedevere would behead anyone who crossed his path who was not a knight.

Sources are Le Mort de Artur, Idyls of the King, and The Once and Future King.


As for ganging up on obviously lesser foes, I still say do it. That lowly scrub might get a lucky shot or 2 in. Be safe, and take the threat down as efficiently as possible.
Telling everyone "stand back I got this" is not heroic to me. It is just showboating, and I really don't see it as heroic if you are only doing it because you expect to prevail. If you do it when the odds are against you then you have lost sight of the main goal. In either case heroic is not the word I would be using.

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