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


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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?

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 I don't want this to turn into another alignment/morality thread, 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.

Shadow Lodge

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It may not be heroic, but if it prevents the BBEG from accomplishing his Evil Dastardly Plan (tm) then it's the right thing to do. Being heroic and doing the right thing don't always coincide.

You just need to have your BBEG fight even dirtier.

Dark Archive

Well, no; it doesn't have a feeling of a sense of honor, which is mostly driven by pride... a generally evil trait (one of the seven deadly sins). But when real-life police do a sting, they usually outnumber the "bad guys" by 3 or 4 to 1... it's just practical. In the end the goal is to stop the evil from happening, not gain personal glory.

Now, most PF players face about even numbers (sometimes less; as few as one in certain boss fights... sometimes scores of enemies) as a small group of 4-6 people. Overall they are literally taking out a whole fortress on their own. In the cases of particularly difficult opponents, they have to work together, remember these opponents are far more experienced, and often genetically larger and stronger than the heroes can hope to be.

So no, they are still very "good"; if you want moments of personal knight-like glory have opponents call them out in one-on-one duels. But for what it's worth, the most popular way for knights to kill each other in real life was to fall on top and lock them down under the weight of the armor, then have a squire come by and slit their throat. Not really the dream, huh?


Most of the Avengers and the X-Men would be considered "good" aligned they are heroes and all of them have no qualms about using team tactics against solo villains.

"good" does not mean stupid.


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 I don't want this to turn into another alignment/morality thread, 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.

You sure? It doesn't sound like they really care to play shining good heroes.

On ganging-up it's something you have to do against characters more powerful than you, that's just good tactics. For less powerful types either they should surrender or flee once out-numbered or use the same gang-up tactics. In the latter case this should encourage the players to eliminate them using faster one-on-one tactics before they can bring numbers to bear.

For killing surrendering characters:
1) Give them a way to "deal with" those characters that's as easy to use as killing in the game.
--Ex: There might be a "devil banishment" incantation that anyone can use to send a helpless fiend back to their home plane.
--Ex: Maybe the forces of Good supply them with some sort of imprisoning magic item.
2) Encourage them to narrate killing an irredeemable opponent as showing mercy but the opponent them betraying them in that instant and they kill in self-defense.
3) Don't use so many opponents where they're right on them not being redeemable. Make it so that their detect spells and knowledge checks can tell them when a surrendering enemy is being sincere about not causing any more harm.
4) Give them lots of reputation-based awards for being "heroic". Really play up how much more people like them when they act like that. (Heck, you could use a system like Reputation or Honor.)


I agree with all of your posts, but this isn't about what's most efficient or "realism", but about genre. I guess this sort of behavior, while perfectly sound within the game system of Pathfinder, just takes me out of what I feel the genre of "Heroic fantasy" is to me.

@Realmwalker- You do have a point about the superhero analogy, but most villains in those settings have more than enough juice to be a real challenge for all those heroes, not so much in Pathfinder where the bad guys rarely lasts more than a couple of rounds once the pc's go nova on them. But that's been the problem of "boss" fights in all editions of D&D I've ever played.


SilvercatMoonpaw wrote:
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 I don't want this to turn into another alignment/morality thread, 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.

You sure? It doesn't sound like they really care to play shining good heroes.

On ganging-up it's something you have to do against characters more powerful than you, that's just good tactics. For less powerful types either they should surrender or flee once out-numbered or use the same gang-up tactics. In the latter case this should encourage the players to eliminate them using faster one-on-one tactics before they can bring numbers to bear.

For killing surrendering characters:
1) Give them a way to "deal with" those characters that's as easy to use as killing in the game.
--Ex: There might be a "devil banishment" incantation that anyone can use to send a helpless fiend back to their home plane.
--Ex: Maybe the forces of Good supply them with some sort of imprisoning magic item.
2) Encourage them to narrate killing an irredeemable opponent as showing mercy but the opponent them betraying them in that instant and they kill in self-defense.
3) Don't use so many opponents where they're right on them not being redeemable. Make it so that their detect spells and knowledge checks can tell them when a surrendering enemy is being sincere about not causing any more harm.
4) Give them lots of reputation-based awards for being "heroic". Really play up how much more people like them when they act like that. (Heck, you could use a system like Reputation or Honor.)

I don't think they always stick to their alignments, but as long as the majority of their actions is within their alignments I don't think it should warrant an alignment change.

The eternal "What shall we do with the prisoners" dilemma has cost me some grief over the years. I still haven't found a good solution so I usually just handwave these sorts of situations unless they are important to the story. I have found that a pc that tries to redeem everyone and everything can be more annoying than letting a prisoner get killed or executed.

I like the idea of reputation based rewards as this is a more alignment neutral approach to the problem and doesn't take control out of my players hands, although I'm not sure how to incorporate such a system without clogging down the game with needless minutiae and bookkeeping.

Shadow Lodge

In almost anything more than a one-shot, most characters WILL have their moment to shine, and WILL do something heroic, by practically any standard of the term "heroic" (or anti-hero, or villain, or complete f%@$ing monster, depending on your campaign). Just because your character manages to go through a dungeon without single-handedly saving a horde of starving orphans doesn't mean he isn't a hero.

Of course, this cuts somewhat close to one debate that I've had many times: the true definition of heroism. Who's more heroic: a man with superpowers who stops a mugging, or a random Joe Schlubb who attempts to stop a mugging but just gets his ass kicked into a coma for his trouble?

Dark Archive

I actually like the thought of Superheroes; it's probably the most appropriate. Nobody really goes one-on-one with Darkseid / Galactus; they require teamwork and dedication to take down. The group is usually fighting powerful enemies with superior modes of combat, demons, devils, dragons. No one man has the power to take them down; they have to use their wit and guile to stop these monstrosities.

It's very heroic, just not Arthurian, which is heroic in its own way. If you want a campaign like that you can offer such opportunities, and potentially reward such heroics with additional XP (if you fight an opponent on CR equal to yours one-on-one, you gain an additional 20% XP). Just a matter of views; for what it's worth I feel very heroic "storming castles" as a group, and encouraging one-on-one too much leads to too many people sitting on the sidelines while the dual happens


Mortagon wrote:
I don't think they always stick to their alignments, but as long as the majority of their actions is within their alignments I don't think it should warrant an alignment change.

Yes, I agree. The question is do they really want to play these shining heroes? I don't know about your group, it's just a doubt that comes up in my mind when they don't seem to act quite so much like it.

Mortagon wrote:
The eternal "What shall we do with the prisoners" dilemma has cost me some grief over the years. I still haven't found a good solution so I usually just handwave these sorts of situations unless they are important to the story. I have found that a pc that tries to redeem everyone and everything can be more annoying than letting a prisoner get killed or executed.

D&D/Pathfinder and their assumed settings do not give very good society for ensuring those sorts of things is part of the problem.

I think my "forces of Good give you a magic item for this situation" sounds pretty easy: point it at the prisoner, they are zapped elsewhere, let them be someone-else's problem.

Mortagon wrote:
I like the idea of reputation based rewards as this is a more alignment neutral approach to the problem and doesn't take control out of my players hands, although I'm not sure how to incorporate such a system without clogging down the game with needless minutiae and bookkeeping.

It doesn't have to be a mechanical sub-system. Just let word get around. In the sort of society the core flavor assumes it may not matter much, though. But if they're "not so heroic" you'll definitely have some Good Hero paragons be a little suspicious of the PCs and bad guys will start going to great, perhaps even annoying, lengths not to get captured.


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It's also about the intent and "anti-heroic-feel" of the villain. If you want heroic fantasy, then I think the villain pretty much has to be a megalomaniac larger-than-life insane doom-focused being, who wants to take over the world and/or destroy it. And if the villain is like that, then it kinda automatically becomes ok for the heroes to work together against all odds to SAVE THE WORLD! ...or something like that :)

...we had a game last night (in PFS) where we just barely managed to down the evil cleric BBEG - had he gotten just one more channel in, it would have been a TPK. He died while being pinned and shot from close range by a gunslinger. It wasn't until after he was dead that we realised how completely unheroic we had been; "Hey quick - shoot him in the face while I hold his arms!" But we got him and walked away alive - and the victor tells the heroic tales! Hehehe :)


Absolutely. The group on one style is there to help everyone get a turn.

Two games ago in my campaign, the PCs decided to attack this evil knight's fort. Of the five player characters, two were killed fighting his main minions. In return, they killed almost all of his main minions. When they finally ran up on the fort, all he had left were scrubs.

The Paladin was 4th level. The evil knight (fighter) was 4th level. The knight challenged him to a duel for the right to lead the keep (he didn't think he could win a full scale battle at that point). Of course by bad luck, the paladin started loosing, so the other PCs and all the minions jumped in and it turned back into a grand melee.

Players, I guess, will usually choose disgrace of death if given an instantaneous choice about it.


I think you are confusing the RPG alignment system with actual morality.

Let me explain, the game is setup black and white. There is good and there is evil; there is law and there is chaos. Neutral would be gray but in this game it is more the ability to do either or at your own discretion as long as you balance it by doing the opposite just as much.

It's not the greatest system but it does alleviate alot of problems that morality brings up that have no easy answer and have been debated philosophically for ages...examples:

Is it good or evil to kill a single innocent child to save 100 people? 1,000 people? Millions?

Is it Lawful or Chaotic to break the law of a country to do something you know will benefit the society by deposing some corrupt politician who is using the law as a shield but really hasn't broken any laws?

See what I'm saying? The world is not so easily chopped into 9 alignments but it does help by stopping such arguments from disrupting the game.

In much the same problem the game of pathfinder and D&D have races that are inherently evil or good, etc. A goblin is 99% of the time evil; a solar is 99% good. All races that are not suitable for player characters are usually assumed to be of a specific alignment with little to no chance of choosing their own alignment. So killing a goblin begging for its life isn't evil because its evil.

Again, doesn't make sense in the real world but is there to bypass difficult questions that no constructed system can possibly quantify.

The alignment system isn't perfect but it does its job.


Kthulhu wrote:

In almost anything more than a one-shot, most characters WILL have their moment to shine, and WILL do something heroic, by practically any standard of the term "heroic" (or anti-hero, or villain, or complete f!&~ing monster, depending on your campaign). Just because your character manages to go through a dungeon without single-handedly saving a horde of starving orphans doesn't mean he isn't a hero.

Of course, this cuts somewhat close to one debate that I've had many times: the true definition of heroism. Who's more heroic: a man with superpowers who stops a mugging, or a random Joe Schlubb who attempts to stop a mugging but just gets his ass kicked into a coma for his trouble?

Oh, my players certainly get to do heroic stuff, It's just that sometimes I think they get on a power trip. It's akin to a superhero abusing his powers. The powers have their use, but sometimes it is better to leave the big guns in their holsters.

As for the mugging, I think they are both equally heroic, although the common Joe certainly has more to loose, but both helped stop the criminal and rescue his victim so they are both equally heroic. Although if the superhero just went in and killed the mugger in cold blood with his awesome powers it would be a more of an anti-heroic act which doesn't fit well into the "heroic fantasy" genre.

Liberty's Edge

Mortagon wrote:

I agree with all of your posts, but this isn't about what's most efficient or "realism", but about genre. I guess this sort of behavior, while perfectly sound within the game system of Pathfinder, just takes me out of what I feel the genre of "Heroic fantasy" is to me.

@Realmwalker- You do have a point about the superhero analogy, but most villains in those settings have more than enough juice to be a real challenge for all those heroes, not so much in Pathfinder where the bad guys rarely lasts more than a couple of rounds once the pc's go nova on them. But that's been the problem of "boss" fights in all editions of D&D I've ever played.

This game is meant for a group of people to enjoy, so yes, it involves a group of people. So would any other group came you ran, rather it is exalted or shadowrun.

If you want to get more of an honorable feel and have heroic fantasy, you have a couple of options. First, change the way you DM. Instead of a solo bad guy, use mobs. Second, change the way you think about heroic fantasy. Read dragon lance.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
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.

What's a dirty tactic? Subterfuge? Bluffing? Sneak attacking?

Fair fights are for suckers. Rules of fair fights always favor the stronger combatant. That's how they keep their edge, by keeping those weaker from them from exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Duels of honor, set piece battles between armies in the open, none of them favor the underdog so the underdog, if he really wants to win, needs to fight on different terms.

Shadow Lodge

Mortagon wrote:
As for the mugging, I think they are both equally heroic, although the common Joe certainly has more to loose, but both helped stop the criminal and rescue his victim so they are both equally heroic. Although if the superhero just went in and killed the mugger in cold blood with his awesome powers it would be a more of an anti-heroic act which doesn't fit well into the "heroic fantasy" genre.

I should have been a bit more clear. I wanted to really muddy the waters, the common Joe did NOT stop the criminal or rescue the victim. He tried to, and got his ass kicked. Is he less heroic because his attempt to help was ultimate futile? Or is he more heroic because he stood up for what he believed in despite the fact that it cost him so dearly, while the superhero was never in any danger at all.


It sounds like your players aren't as interested in what I'll call hyper-chivalry as you are. As such, it's an out-of-game issue and needs to be discussed out-of-game.

If you have visions of Knights of the Round Table and your players don't share that vision, they are going to continue to "play wrong" and frustrate you. Any rules you put on them to make them "play right" will just make them resentful.

I'd suggest you do a one-shot game with the agreement that the CHARACTERS will all be chivalric paragons. And then give them situations were they can succeed doing that.

Maybe they will like that method of play and you can continue. Maybe they won't and would rather go back to the "old way."


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Bill Dunn wrote:
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.

What's a dirty tactic? Subterfuge? Bluffing? Sneak attacking?

Fair fights are for suckers. Rules of fair fights always favor the stronger combatant. That's how they keep their edge, by keeping those weaker from them from exploiting weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Duels of honor, set piece battles between armies in the open, none of them favor the underdog so the underdog, if he really wants to win, needs to fight on different terms.

Knocking someone down and kicking him in the head until he's dead without the victim even getting to explain himself. He might have been an evil bastard, and you might even know he was but it's still not very heroic to kill a helpless person even though you know he is dangerous and evil.

In a more anti-heroic game (and I have played plenty of those) I have no qualms about these sorts of things, but this is about a game which is supposed to be of the "epic heroic fantasy" genre. It's all about genre emulation not morality or what's more efficient.


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Partly it's game setup and expectations.
If you want the PCs to behave heroically you have to give them the chance and not screw them over when they do. In "heroic" fiction (superheroic fiction, particularly) trying to do the right things almost always works out.

Reward them, in one way or another, for accepting surrenders and give them something easy to do with the prisoners. Don't use surrenders for moral dilemmas or opportunities for betrayal.

If you want them to fight one-on-one duels, make them likely wins. Not equal fights or 50:50 chances. You don't survive many of those. Just like most party encounters are biased towards the group winning handily.
Have two versions of the bad guy ready if you want: One for the solo duel and a more powerful one for the full party if they go that route. Or minions who'll jump in if the party does. The minions can be good motivation for fighting the duel in the first place. And give them personal motivations too. If the villain is one PCs nemesis, then he'll want that duel.


Chobemaster wrote:

It sounds like your players aren't as interested in what I'll call hyper-chivalry as you are. As such, it's an out-of-game issue and needs to be discussed out-of-game.

If you have visions of Knights of the Round Table and your players don't share that vision, they are going to continue to "play wrong" and frustrate you. Any rules you put on them to make them "play right" will just make them resentful.

I'd suggest you do a one-shot game with the agreement that the CHARACTERS will all be chivalric paragons. And then give them situations were they can succeed doing that.

Maybe they will like that method of play and you can continue. Maybe they won't and would rather go back to the "old way."

Some characters in my group wants to be what you would call "chivalric paragons" while others walk a more shady path. I'm ok with that it creates interesting situations and party dynamics.

But even my player's sometimes feels let down and get a bad conscience after murdering some random creature. Partly because their characters are good guys and partly because the fight felt so one sided and anti-climatic.

I don't force any type of game upon my player's and let them choose by themselves how their characters should and will act. The only rule I have is that the player's are heroes (reluctant or not), not bad guys.

I'm pretty confident that my player's are happy with my games for the most part, and that they don't feel I'm forcing them to play in a certain style. I'm simply wondering how one can make ones Pathfinder Campaign more "Heroic" and "Epic" without punishing the players.


Mortagon wrote:


Knocking someone down and kicking him in the head until he's dead without the victim even getting to explain himself. He might have been an evil bastard, and you might even know he was but it's still not very heroic to kill a helpless person even though you know he is dangerous and evil.

In a more anti-heroic game (and I have played plenty of those) I have no qualms about these sorts of things, but this is about a game which is supposed to be of the "epic heroic fantasy" genre. It's all about genre emulation not morality or what's more efficient.

Any NPCs around? How did they react? And how have they reacted to the dangerous evil stuff the bad guy did?

(That reads kind of accusive, which isn't how I mean it - I'm trying to get an idea how you're establishing the genre atmosphere. Players develop "default fantasy settings" for tactics and ethics, and getting them onto a different track requires clear, consistent communication.)


War is hell.


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thejeff wrote:
Reward them, in one way or another, for accepting surrenders and give them something easy to do with the prisoners. Don't use surrenders for moral dilemmas or opportunities for betrayal.

This, so much this. If you want your players to play more heroic, give them rewards for playing heroic. Whether it's divine bonuses from the gods blessing them for their mercy and heroism or the townspeople giving them discounts for having kind and just reputations.

In a novel a heroic character may take the less advantageous route, but they'll make it through because of plot and narrative "luck". In a game, this is just throwing away your character and thus less desirable and just plain stupid.

As far as your PCs teaming up on one guy, have more enemies to make it a fair fight and keep everyone invested. Also you might want to give bonuses to taking on an enemy alone rather than add flanking bonuses if that is the playstyle you want to encourage.


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What the heck - I'll run my mouth before having all the facts. That's fun. :P

Have fights take place around innocent bystanders. Have them react to the way the PCs fight, and deal with defeated foes. Have the stories get around. (...and not just the bad ones. Come up with something they did right, even if you have to stretch a little, and let an NPC praise them for it later.)

Kids playing knights and bandits in a village can work - you can even have kids playing the same game wherever the PCs go, as a lighthearted commentary device. "I'll be Sir Amithar and slaughter the helpless prisoners!" "Amithar's half bandit himself! I want to be Sir Kellwyn and haul them back to the baron!"

Assign somebody a squire. DON'T make him Jiminy Cricket the Relentless Voice of 21st-Century Idealistic Social Justice; they'll hate that and rightly so. But he can be pumped when the PCs act heroic, and sickened when they act brutal, and if you make him halfway capable he can give the PCs some options: "[Squire], if we chain these four bastards together and give you a bow, d'you think you can get them back to the magistrate and catch up with us in Springbank?"


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And don't ever screw them for being noble and heroic. One surrendered villain they let live who stabs them in the back outweighs a lot of praise from grateful villagers.

Game mechanics can do this unintentionally too. Back in the Champions games I used play, villains (and heroes) could recover from being knocked out while you were still fighting the rest of the group. Recovery was fast enough that they could get and still be a significant threat. Inevitably, we took to spending a couple of actions to bash an unconscious enemy so he wouldn't get up again too fast. The quick recovery is very much in genre, especially for heroes, but the resulting actions weren't.

Silver Crusade

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Ion Raven wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Reward them, in one way or another, for accepting surrenders and give them something easy to do with the prisoners. Don't use surrenders for moral dilemmas or opportunities for betrayal.
This, so much this. If you want your players to play more heroic, give them rewards for playing heroic.

YASE.

On the subject of accepting surrenders, rewarding players can sometimes be as simple as not punishing them every time they try to do the right thing. Will there be some surrenders that are just betrayal attempts? Sure. But as someone that actually likes playing idealistic heroes, nothing kills one's interest in the game quite like having every single redemption attempt or other such attempt at idealistic heroics blow up in your face.

If you want to encourage this now, try throwing in some context. Show some hints(possibly not so subtle in this case) that those goblins that just surrendered really were pressed into service by the guys they just sworded, and that they likely weren't much of a guaranteed threat to others when they were left to their own devices. Have some easy passive Sense Motives pick up on some genuine remorse from those brigands that actually were looking for a way out of their current life, and now they're terrified that it's far too late. Have that forlarren weeping and begging the PCs to help her, because she can't stand the bipolar madness that overtakes her from time to time.

Of course that hinges on the PCs possessing empathy. If they don't, any hope for real heroism in the modern sense of the word are pretty much out.


Quote:
And don't ever screw them for being noble and heroic. One surrendered villain they let live who stabs them in the back outweighs a lot of praise from grateful villagers.

Well, maybe now and then. :) But preferably with a bad guy who's either...

* Total lowlife scum, but not much of a threat, or
* The big blackhearted bastard evil guy, so they pretty much see it coming.

What absolutely must not happen - and I think this is what thejeff was getting at - is this:

DM: Be heroic! Be chivalrous! Show mercy!

PCs: [Are heroic, are chivalrous, show mercy.]

DM: He hits you as soon as your back is turned. +4 for rear attack, flatfooted AC...yeah, he can afford to Vital Strike you, it's still an easy hit, that'll be optimal damage. *clatter* 44 enough to kill you?

PC: Yes.

DM: Don't expect a cheap rez, either - this world is tough and gritty and heroes die. What were you thinking, turning your back on Count Blackthorn? You guys really have to start playing smarter.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

What other choice do characters have when fighting a single foe? Line up and take numbers?


Keep in mind that many historical codes-of-honor were applied selectively, and sometimes only against fellow knights (or nobles, soldiers, Mafioso, Christians, etc.) Often times the most "honorable" and "virtuous" committed the worst atrocities when against enemies who were not like them.

There is a fine line between honorable and foolish when dealing with creatures that have an Evil alignment as it is presented in Pathfinder. I think most Evil adversaries would just use a PC's honor as a weapon against them. Perhaps mixing in a few "villains" who are actually Neutral or even Lawful Evil, but with honor.

Finally, establish a Code of Honor that works with the Black or White alignment system of the game. For example, while torture many be off limits in all cases, lying or trickery may be fine against Evil opponents. If you want honorable fights, both sides should be honorable, and it helps if the consequences are not too dire.


jasonfahy wrote:
Quote:
And don't ever screw them for being noble and heroic. One surrendered villain they let live who stabs them in the back outweighs a lot of praise from grateful villagers.

Well, maybe once. But preferably with a bad guy who's either...

* Total lowlife scum, but not much of a threat, or
* The big blackhearted bastard evil guy, so they pretty much see it coming.

What absolutely must not happen - and I think this is what thejeff was getting at - is this:

DM: Be heroic! Be principled! Show mercy!

PCs: [Are heroic, are principled, show mercy.]

DM: He hits you as soon as your back is turned. +4 for rear attack, flatfooted AC...yeah, he can afford to Vital Strike you, it's still an easy hit, that'll be optimal damage. *clatter* 44 enough to kill you?

PC: Yes.

DM: Don't expect a cheap rez, either - this world is tough and gritty and heroes die. What were you thinking, turning your back on Count Blackthorn? You guys really have to start playing smarter.

Nice example.

I would say, if you're trying to train your players to be noble and heroic and they already have conditioning to behave the other way, you really can't afford even reasonable amounts of failure. Once they're used to being noble, you can relax a little and throw the occasional curve at them.


Fair point, Jeff. The OP mentioned that these guys seem to have antichivalrous tendencies and I kind of forgot, so it probably would pay to use an extra-light touch until we get them trained.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

If you want a bird's-eye view of in-game alignment/morality, make a list of every deity along with their portfolios (the little lists of three or four single-word ideas).

Sort the portfolio items by alignment. Record how many times each portfolio item appears in a Good, Neutral, or Evil portfolio; then you can determine that item's "average" morality.

Now whenever your PCs do something, you just pick the item that best fits what they did, and check its Average Morality Rating ("AMR").

Then take note of how often your PCs perform acts with Good, Neutral and Evil AMRs. This can let you keep a running Party Morality Rating ("PMR"). If the PMR starts to dip toward Evil (or even more Neutral than you prefer), you can start to let them know.

Congratulations, you're now playing a game with numerically quantified morality.

...Hooray?


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I think the true heros are not the ones with the most glory and honor but are often unsung do it without glory but do important things nevertheless.

Dark Archive

Do the PCs spin what they do afterwards in chivalrous terms? Do they perpetuate the myth of chivalrous good guys? If so then they are doing exactly what the winning side have always done. And they _are_ chivalrous good guys as far as everyone they meet knows. Job done. If not then ask them if they would do so. Job done. Just getting them to talk in those terms might make them a little more aware of their actions.

As always the heart of the matter is about personal perceptions of what a fantasy world should be and not forcing your views onto others, especially as a GM.


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I detect a subtle mixing up of heroic code with good. For instance. Take a lawful good paladin, perhaps as part of his code which is uber heroic contains no hitting people in the back or unaware, must offer merciful amnesty before lethal engagement. He calls out foes for single combat. He takes heroic risks. In the same party is the Lord Chamberlins chief spy(rogue/bard arcane trickster). Also lawful good, documents everything, never acts outside of jurisdiction however when he has sanction he is a brutually efficient stealthy trickster. His best work is when they never know he was there. He catches foes completely unaware those that are to be justly disposed are dead, the other incompacitated and he is gone with what he needs to steal (collect for the good of the kingdom). Both are lawful good bother are heroic in their own way however one is the classic knight the other uses far different tactics.


A lot of good advice here guys :). I don't want to force anything on my players, I'm just looking for a way to encourage a bit more honor and chivalry into my games.


Well, sometimes it's about doing what they think is right, or about the end's justifying the means.

Recently in a game, one of our party npc's was kidnapped by some underground group that was fighting against slavery. The party had nothing to do with the slavery, it seemed like we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

However, we did break into the rebel's base of operations and liberate our npc. by this time there was a crowd of townspeople around the building, and we were fighting the rebel leader on the roof.

After we defeated him, i cut his head off, stuck it on my halberd, and waved it at the crowd saying 'slavery isn't good, but this is what happens to you when you kidnap my friends."

I still consider myself one of the good guys, but you can be good and not heroic or valiant. You can be underhanded or shady good.


Playing good aligned characters I'm often reluctant to strike first when I win initiative, if it isn't crystal clear that the opponents cannot be diverted from attacking.

Once battle has begun, in my opinion there is no reason not to act at full effectiveness - which includes flanking outnumbered foes. If practical I might ask an outclassed enemy to surrender, but it would depend on my character's perception of the enemy.


It's an interesting goal, but you probably need to make sure that you define what you see as honorable, and who precisely the code of honor applies to, if you want to see it happen. As has been pointed out at least once, most "honor" codes tended to be applied rather selectively. Different social classes, those who followed a different faith, or "barbarians" from a different culture tended to be treated significantly differently than people from the same social class, society, religion, etc.

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I was intrigued when I discovered that a certain lawful good deity (Ragathiel) had vengeance in his portfolio.

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I have been trying to coax my players into being less absolute in their judgement, but their personalities make it difficult. They view the world in blacks and whites, so why not their characters?

I try to encourage them to believe in redemption, and they seem to selectively grant that. In the Rise of the Runelords AP, they felt that Nualia was redeemable, but then a bandit leader, who had some inkling of decency, was beyond redemption. When asked for mercy, one of the characters stabbed him in the face, killing him.

So the point I am trying to make is sometimes it is conditioning, and sometimes it is their nature. That isn't to say, "Do not even bother", but understand that it may be an uphill battle.

It's the same thing with PCs fighting 'til death, because they are afraid that if they are beaten, it's endgame.

I wish you good luck, and I hope you do not give up on your players!


Leave hints for the players that point towards the bandits they just executed having possessed information they desperately needed.

Set them up with a single NPC challenging them in public to single combat.

Basicaly you have to give the players incentives to take prisoners and set up fights that demand they change tactics.

But remember that your sense of honor might not be any more correct than your player's - its a matter of perspective... which can be hard to change.


Playing a game like this generally requires a gentleman's agreement to adhere to a style of play and not ruin the other players sense of enjoyment. If you as the GM, want a style of play that is different than the one your players are pursuing, you need to have a frank discussion with them so that they know what you want and you can, as a group, decide what your style will be for the game. If they don't understand what will help you be happier with the game, they cannot be expected to do so. In fact, if you don't ask, I would always expect them to behave in a fashion that is not what you consider heroic (based upon your explanation) based upon the fact that it requires the PC's to make decisions that frankly leave them open to backstabbing by those to whom they show mercy.

TLDR: talk to the players

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Cookies!

Every time players challenge foes to single combat they gain a cookie (or hero point etc).
Every time a player accepts a surrender: MOAR COOKIES, or Hero Points.

Reinforcing certain behaviors with in game and out of game benefits leads to changed behaviors.

But first talk to your players about these concerns. It's possible they aren't interested in playing "Goody" good guys.


If the hero fights one on one and people die is he really a hero?
At the end of the day most people want results, and telling Little Timmy his parents could still be alive, but Frank the Fair refused to give the rogue a flank will not make him feel any better.


wraithstrike wrote:

If the hero fights one on one and people die is he really a hero?

At the end of the day most people want results, and telling Little Timmy his parents could still be alive, but Frank the Fair refused to give the rogue a flank will not make him feel any better.

I agree a lot.

Although hurting innocent bystanders is not heroic.


Examples work! On the next leg of the adventure send a Paladin along even if he is eventual dragon chow. Have him RP a shining example of what you are looking for. In the next inn have a commoner stand up and call for attention and raise an artful toast a fallen hero again highlighting your heroic vision. The background story in the next tomb they plunder is again your heroic vision.


War isn't a therapy session it's an attempt at peace through carnage.


I play my lawful neutral druid as being a decent, caring individual. It is rare in an encounter that she will not offer the option to surrender. The offer is never taken up. Once that is dispensed with, she will kill without regret.

I play most of my good characters the same way.

Battle is battle. War is hell. What my druid and a good character might do OUT of combat would be much more likely to be significantly different.

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

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