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RPG Superstar 2015

When the villains just don't die: Next? (Spoilers for Prince of Augustana)


Pathfinder Society GM Discussion

Liberty's Edge **

Hi,

I recently ran my first PFS game (yaa!), it being 'The Prince of Augustana'.

I made sure I read and reread the stat blocks to find out what my mooks and assorted baddies were going to do.

Combat in the Settling pools went reasonable for the pcs. Some expenditure of resources and thematic combat scenes as people were leaping from location to location. The baddies were vanquished... yet only one actually died. The rest stabilised (including the main man Firedrake).

So the party decided to heal Firedrake and get him to talk. The development notes state that he fights to the death which is possible when he is armed with his flasks and dagger but not possible when he is cut down, stabilised and then tied up. One wand charge later and he is awake and not in a position to do much.

Which got me thinking. How do other GM's handle things when their villains arnt just defeated but brought back to the land of the living. Just how much information are they likely to offer to the party? Can they be used as defacto characters (ie.. they get offered their life if they lead the party to X or show a party where Y is)

I know it's outside the scope of the stat block and development, but well.. players do play smart and Im sure I cannot be the first person to quickly scramble to come up with a response.

In a later battle Ranaldan (spelling may be off here) was also put down ( and only one Steel Wyvern died). Everyone else was stabilised. One of the pc's decided to lug their unconscious bodies up into the main city so the guard could take them away. I didn't have any issue with this (apart from wondering why the guard wouldnt try to stop the pcs so they could get a statement etc).

Now I know Im going to have situations where I do things on the fly. I accept that. Im much more interested to know how other GM's treat captured/ co-operating npcs/baddies. Are they helpful? Do they tell the pc's where the traps are (if they of course know about them).

How do you handle things when the pcs use the baddies as temporary allies?

Matthew


It really depends on the group.

If you have a "typical" group of murder hobo's, then there isn't much incentive for the baddie to co-operate. Once he's outlived his usefulness, the group would probably kill him. If they party has any known reputation, or the captured person realises this, he has zero reason to help them, except to attempt to escape.

If they are an honorable group and have been known to let the captives survive; I would see no reason for the captive to co-operate, at least til a good chance of escape presented itself.

Addendum:

Most groups I've DM'd are the murderous hobo types.. even if the captive fully complies and helps them 100% they still murder the guy when "they are done" with him. So I tend to offer them little to no information after the current group establishes that reputation.

Dark Archive **** Star Voter 2013

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Maps, Modules Subscriber

Grollub, you've provided the murder-hobo plan and the honorable plan with the same outcome of not helping despite diplo, promises, intimidate, etc.

Maybe you could restate some or all of what you were saying so that it becomes clearer whether you mean "you don't think the NPCs will help anyone ever because I'm cynical and metagaming"?

Or do you mean "A questionable reputation of not always being nice and not always being murderous thugs means that people will cooperate hoping to catch you on a good day but either extreme is likely to result in a lack of cooperation"?

Liberty's Edge **

How does reputation come into it? Ive seen no mechanic for using a characters fame/prestige points to solicit a response from an npc or random street thug.

Now I would assume a Fame 40 character might be known by some people.. and not just within the Society. Still I dont see how that is going to work its way to a Steel Wyvern thug (who dosnt even get a name). If it can be applied, that would be great but as all stories get embelished over time I dont see how one can base a response on rumor.

Silver Crusade ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is one thing that I play by ear.

If the NPC is a complete fanatic then they'll either say nothing or lie.

But most NPCs shouldn't be that fanatic. If they think that they've got something to gain then they'll likely talk. If the PCs promise to let them live (or promise to release them) they'll likely give up at least some information.

If the group is lying through their teeth then bluff or intimidate checks are in order. With appropriate circumstance bonuses or penalties based upon reputations, actions, appearances, etc.

If you're in doubt, use opposed diplomacy, bluff or intimidate checks as indicated by the PCs actions.

NEVER give out more information than you want the PCs to have. If them knowing too much would make the remainder of the scenario a cakewalk then they don't talk. Its that simple.

Also keep in mind the characters alignments and religions. Although peoples opinions will vary greatly as to what is justified lots of people think killing helpless cooperating prisoners after having sworn that you will let them live is evil. If you think that as a GM you are within your rights to point out that doing such is evil and evil acts have consequences in PFS.

The Exchange ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Michigan—Detroit

Often tactics as written don't make sense 2 or 3 round into a battle. Sometimes I have mechanically stuck to tactics, but I have always felt like that's doing the players a disservice. As stated above, unless an opponent is thoroughly evil and depraved, most of them want to escape or at least to live. It's impossible to say "In any situation, opponents X, Y and Z will respond in [description] manner." In these situations you as the GM have to make a judgment. That's why GMs are called judges in the RPGA. You are encouraged to reward player ingenuity.

It's always easier on a GM when the PCs just slaughter everyone and never ask any questions. Once PCs start stabilizing, healing and interrogating an opponent there's a temptation to just have the NPC clam up. That drives the players nuts and can escalate things into torture. It's best to make them roleplay it out. The worst players are the ones who say "I have a 35 Intimidate and I want him to tell us everything he knows." Don't cave into that. Make the players ask specific questions, and if they succeed give them specific answers. Keep in mind if the NPC wants to live, they should be bargaining with the PCs to trade information for freedom. If there's a benevolent PC at the table, have the NPC speak directly to them. Often when there's a harsh interrogation going on the players of Good-aligned PCs are frustratingly silent.

I agree somewhat with what Paul said, don't give out too much information. However, just because the PCs have enough info to cakewalk a scenario doesn't mean they'll act on it. My players have a knack for making plans that sound good in their heads but never work the way they thought they would. Kind of how a frozen lake looks safe to cross but once you're out there the ice starts cracking--now what do we do? What appeared to be a cakewalk has just become a far more dangerous situation. Good GMs will give players just enough rope to hang themselves.

As GMs we should reward player creativity and encourage fun. If the players happen to ask the right questions we shouldn't get in the way of that fun. I blame the authors for putting too many human/humanoid opponents in scenarios. We don't see enough monsters these days. No one ever says "Hey, don't kill that greater barghest, it might have valuable intelligence on the rest of the hideout!".

As for the use of charm to convert opponents to allies, by all means let them take it as far as the rules allow. Charm-spells are not dominate, and only go so far. But as a tool, used within reason, I would allow the players to make use of charmed opponents. Remember, the whole object of this game is to have fun. "No" is not fun. "Yes, and..." is.

In The Prince of Augustana, I once had a group of PCs take prisoners in the first encounter then tell the Steel Wyverns they wanted to join the gang and meet their leader. What would you do in that situation?

***** RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

When deciding how NPCs react after being captured, I take the PCs' history when dealing with captives and use that as part of the "Pathfinder baseline", assuming that other Society members' behavior has left a similar impression. I'll ask the players what they really would like to do with their captives, then give the NPCs a Sense Motive check. If he succeeds, he knows what they would like and will adjust his response accordingly.

It does help to have some of the NPCs react with mercy when they have an advantage over the PCs. If a villain is notably chivalrous (or just arrogant), they may engage in single combat, offer foes a chance to surrender, or otherwise give the PCs a "break". If you do this, make sure that such behavior is in character for the NPCs: Don't leave the players thinking that you'll "softball" encounters just because the player are having a hard time.


TetsujinOni wrote:

Grollub, you've provided the murder-hobo plan and the honorable plan with the same outcome of not helping despite diplo, promises, intimidate, etc.

Maybe you could restate some or all of what you were saying so that it becomes clearer whether you mean "you don't think the NPCs will help anyone ever because I'm cynical and metagaming"?

Or do you mean "A questionable reputation of not always being nice and not always being murderous thugs means that people will cooperate hoping to catch you on a good day but either extreme is likely to result in a lack of cooperation"?

Maybe it's the group of people I've played with. Most of them, once they get any information out of the NPC, even if they promise them safety, and the NPC fully co-operates, is murdered in cold blood 99.99% of the time.

I wouldn't be opposed to giving them information, and often do regardless of the end result.

I also don't think I mentioned any skill use; obviously if they are using skills like diplomacy, intimidate, etc.. there will be an effect if they make the rolls.

Sovereign Court **** Venture-Captain, Florida—Jacksonville , Star Voter 2013 aka Corax "the honest thief"

Best you can honestly do is Role-Play off the group. If you force stuff they will not like it and neither will you. Being brought back from the brink tends to change a person. Sometimes for the better others times for the worse. Maybe if before they would never tell, allow an intimidate check or a diplomacy check. Or a Straight up role-playing moment. Tell them they will have to convince them. you might be surprised how they react.

The Exchange ****

wow... where does Grollub play?
In my area we have a saying, often heard at tables I play at (or judge) - "Don't kill them! They're worth more alive!". Sometimes this results in the Andoran faction PCs swinging with re-newed vigor, trying to kill the NPCs before the Cheliax/Qadarian/Osirion factions can turn them over to the guard to be sold into slavery.

returning thugs:

or, if the judge is in a "playful" mood, maybe the thugs are from "rent-a-thug" and they are just here for a pay check.

PC: I hit AC18 - missed again. "hay, Bruno! Haven't seen you in weeks!"
Judge as Bruno: rolled and missed again "yeah, da wif' had to see her mom - we were weeks getting to Magnamar and back! You doin' ok for yourself - dat looks like a new sword?!"
PC: "yeah, just got Merciful put on it!" roll crit, conferm and 24 pts. non-lethal damage.
Judge: Bruno goes down.

Have I stablized monsters? Sure! lots. after all, "they're worth more alive". Where do you think all that fiendish blood comes from? Dead fiends only give up blood once. And Monsterous guards are not cheap!

And if your PC gets a reputation as someone who ALWAYS captures enemies - maybe "what goes around, comes around". Some day that might be my guy bleeding out there.

getting info from prisoners:
Several of my PCs would be much better at getting information from prisoners than I would be able to discribe. I generally try not to build that type of PC - I'm squeemish - but I have run "Physical Persuasion Specialists" before. If you (as a judge) require me to discribe HOW my PC is getting the info - I'm afraid you will likely get a response something like "My 'toon is much better at this than I am. I rolled a 46 Intimadate. What did we learn?". If that doesn't work for you - we'll likely not learn anything. I do not enjoy torture - even make beleave torture.

So, in PFS I normally try to build the more diplomatic interagator. For example - my Harlot Bard might ask "So, how much is he paying you?" slide into lap of tied up barbarian. "After this is over, I might have a few days free to spend with friendly natives. You are friendly, aren't you?" wiggle-wiggle.

Or I might just fall back to the old stand by. Detect Thoughts.

PC: "so, who sent you to kill us?"
Thug: "I ain't telling you nuttin!?"
PC: "And where did you meet this masked man?"
Thug: "and you can't make me...huh?"
PC: "Where were you meeting him after the job?"
Thug:"who - wha' ... hay!"
PC: "How much did he pay you?"
Thug:"I didn't say anything!!"
PC: "Where did you put the money?"
Thug:"Wait! Dat's MY money! I'm not listening -LALALALALALALA"


nosig wrote:

wow... where does Grollub play?

In my area we have a saying, often heard at tables I play at (or judge) - "Don't kill them! They're worth more alive!". Sometimes this results in the Andoran faction PCs swinging with re-newed vigor, trying to kill the NPCs before the Cheliax/Qadarian/Osirion factions can turn them over to the guard to be sold into slavery.

** spoiler omitted **

Have I stablized monsters? Sure! lots. after all, "they're worth more alive". Where do you think all that fiendish blood comes from? Dead fiends only give up blood once. And Monsterous guards are not cheap!

And if your PC gets a reputation as someone who ALWAYS captures enemies - maybe "what goes around, comes around". Some day that might be my guy bleeding out there.

** spoiler omitted **...

lol .. I kid you not, the party discussion goes something like this:

Initially they either threaten the npc with immediate death unless they talk, or they offer them total immunity ( they will let them go ) to violence to help them.

Then.. the "usual" sets in. The Npc tells/helps them.

Player 1 : okay, I think they (the npc) has told all all he knows/all he is gonna tell us.

Player 2 : well, if we let him go, he'll take revenge on us!

Player 3 : ya, and if we keep him captive, it's a huge pain in the butt!

Player 4 : yep, let's just kill him, it's the ONLY way !!

Player 1,2,3,4 : yep, we kill em!!

Lol.. its almost comical how they try to rationalize how best to kill the npc.

This also occurs directly in front of the npc, even if he begs for his life and swears all he wants is to live and get away.

The Exchange ****

???
Grollup - you have strange Players.
I'd likely have fun driving them crazy in a home game...

home game:

NPC:"I don't know, last time youz guys just kilt me"
PCs: "???"
NPC: "Yeah, so I tol' da boss I'd 'do' youz guys for free - 'n he says all I had ta do was get captured 'n kilt again and youz guys would get desserts... Dat's what he said, you'd get your jus' desserts. Den he cast a spell on me. "
PCs: slowly backing up to give themselves some distance from the NPC.
NPC: scooting across floor - tied up, trying to get nearer the PCs. "An' dat's all I really know, so, now youz guys are gonna untie me right?" smile!

In PFS? maybe not so much.

PFS:
VC during the briefing. "So, on a side note. We've been getting reports of some brigians posing as Pathfinders, and killing captives out of hand. It's leading to problems in the field for all our teams - it seems many of the thugs we encounter have heard this lies, and are fighting harder! Resistance is even turning up when all we want is answers to a few questions, and we're dealing with normal contacts. Any information you run across that helps us track these miscreants down would be helpful. If you should run across them, deal with them in a permenant fashion! We need to respond harshly to any imposters posing as Pathfinders and smudging our good name!"

just a couple ideas off the top of my head.

Unless they are playing the way you taught them? in that case, feel free to ignore me.

Liberty's Edge ****

Also, you might want to include a couple of scenarios on your "to run" list where killing everyone is going to cause a fail, or lose them access or boons.

Spoiler:
Severed Ties, The Sanos Abduction, The God's Market Gamble, Frostfur Captives, Sewer Dragons of Absolom, Hall of Drunken Heroes, You Only Die Twice, Red Harvest, Temnple of Empyreal Enlightenment, Murder on the Throaty Mermaid, Penumbral Accords.

Just a few scenarios where killing everyone is a bad idea.


nosig wrote:

???

Grollup - you have strange Players.
I'd likely have fun driving them crazy in a home game...
** spoiler omitted **

In PFS? maybe not so much.

** spoiler omitted **

just a couple ideas off the top of my head.

Unless they are playing the way you taught them? in that case, feel free to ignore me.

hah.. i like those quotes.. and I guess I forgot to mention it was a home game.

I've tried to get into a PFS game.. currently there are no games on days I could attend. As well when I contacted them back in sept bout any games on other days, I was blown off, and their messageboard has like 0 posts on it since i was last there ( in sept ). lol

*

Just tell them that every 10 helpless prisoners they kill is one step on an alignment shift...requiring an atonement. Any PCs that go to the Dark Side become your NPCs...with all their gear intact.

The Exchange ****

Heck, if it's a home game, let them drift into evil.


nosig wrote:
Heck, if it's a home game, let them drift into evil.

hah.. drift into evil? that's like a bonus for them.. they mostly want to play evil guys.

One fellow in particular had a "zero tolerance" attitude for things..

example : he was a strong believer in "no one walks away" even PC's.. if someone got bored of their character.. or wanted to "leave the group" he would immediately murder them so that "no information" about his character would be "out in public"

lol

The Exchange ****

Grollub wrote:
nosig wrote:
Heck, if it's a home game, let them drift into evil.

hah.. drift into evil? that's like a bonus for them.. they mostly want to play evil guys.

One fellow in particular had a "zero tolerance" attitude for things..

example : he was a strong believer in "no one walks away" even PC's.. if someone got bored of their character.. or wanted to "leave the group" he would immediately murder them so that "no information" about his character would be "out in public"

lol

well... this is PF. "Death is a cure-able condition". so many things you could do with this.

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