Player responsibility to know their characters.


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So a player of mine casts charm person on an important enemy.

The bad guy was part of a kind of 2 man BBEG. one is a muscle bound fighter and the other a sorceror.

anyway the muscle guy failed the save which was a pretty big deal because things did not look good for our heros

unfortunately the player then instructed muscles to bash brains.

on Muscles turn I let muscles make an another save as he had been instructed to do something he would not do.

he succeeded in the save, and then proceeded to focus all of his attention on the guy who was messing with his head.

The player became upset with this and I had to explain to him the difference between charm person and dominate type spells and the extra save clause in the spell and he basically said that he didn't know that and if he had known he would have spoken differently, a part of his rant was that I should have told him he was doing something so obviously detrimental if for no other reason than even if he did not know that fact about the spell his character would know and not make that mistake.

that last part is important.

My retort was that its not my job as GM to protect his character from his lack of knowledge. Its my belief that at the very least a player should have a working knowledge of every skill, feat, ability and spell a player has opted to use. This is especially true for spell casters as their spells have so much versitility. and I refused to allow him to take back the action.

this eventually resulted in the characters death.

Here is my question.

should I have allowed the player to basically go back ... about half a round of initiative to change his action or did I do the right thing and the player will learn from the experience.

to be honest I did not know that the player did not know the rule when he chose how to direct muscles. I thought he was just hoping that the NPC would fail the second save and at the very least interrupt brains-es actions.

however, after i felt no need to change things because I figured his allies would help him (they didnt) and to be honest i wanted him to learn from his mistake.

but I am curious how other GMs would have reacted.

should the GM overrule or strongly warn an experienced intelligent player when they are doing something stupid, even if the character would likely know better?


I have to question the use of the [experienced] and [intelligent] descriptors on the player in question...

;-)

But seriously... it's sad (for him) that this resulted in his character dying. Tragic, really, since it could have been averted by his Plot Armor. Or, wait -- by him being even marginally-aware of his character's powers and the limits thereof.

If he were a new player, I might be more lenient -- but there would be homework in exchange for survival. I.e., go copy the body of the spell so this doesn't happen again.

A player who (supposedly) knows what s/he is doing, though? Nah, punishment for ranting over own stupidity is rolling up new character.


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If this was a new player I would cut him some slack, but if it was an experienced player I would expect him to know how the spells/feats/abilities his character uses, and I would hqve done the same thing


No, you did the right thing. As GMs it's difficult trying to get your players to become responsible at times. They tend to pick spells or companions that make others shake their heads. Then they attempt to justify their failure by saying the GM should make it work. I want my characters to know what they can and can't do.

Tell them to know what they're good at. If that's spellcasting, know your spells. If it's fighting, know the special maneuvers such bull rush or grappling. If everyone knows their characters, then we all have a much better time playing.


Players with a spellcaster need to know the spells they plan to cast. If they haven't prepared a cheat sheet or at the very least bookmarked the relevant pages in the rule books then tough luck.

There are enough tools out there to easily create a simple list of spells and effects, e.g. Herolab or even a plain old Word doc, that if a player doesn't come to the session prepared then the DM shouldn't hold their hand.

That said, if the player is relatively new then a "Are you sure that is what you want to do this round?" with a raised eyebrow should give them a hint. For experienced players...... they should know better.

As a DM one of the most annoying things a player can do is search through spell lists when it is their turn on the initiative board. If they can't at the very least do it while other people are taking their turn then they don't deserve any help from the DM. Likewise the player who reads up on the grapple rules on their turn or someone who has to calculates their to hit and damage every round because they are too lazy to work it all out and write it down in advance (simple Excel spreadsheets are your friend).


You did well.
You are right in saying it isn't your job to protect the char from the player's ignorance.
I had the same problem lately with a group of newbies;of course i knew they were new to table top rpg so i took extra care in helping them building the chars and giving them some advices on combat tactics before combat;but during combat if the player do something stupid i never allow them to take the action back,especially if i already told them what they needed to know.
Lately i've had a half orc barbarian that kept running from foe to foe around threatened areas,i already told the player what AoO are but he was still learning all rules and kept forgetting about those.Of course i warned him once but no more.
Nothing serious in the end,a char goes down from time to time but i give them balanced encounters so they always managed to recover afterward.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's a judgement call.

It will depend on the player(s), the situation and the GM.

For experienced players, I am less likely to advise them of the consequences of their actions. Especially if they have been distracted during the game (talking to neighboor, surfing the web, planning their next feat, etc..).

For newer players, I am more forgiving, either advising them or allowing a knowlege or intelligence check to remember the details.


Well, I tried to cast Hold Person on an Owlbear last Thursday....I figured with the way it looked it was humanoid, but nope, so the spell was wasted and this was in a certain someone's fort at the end of book 1 in Kingmaker. Next session when the fight breaks out, I think we're all stuffed unless the party see sense in my tactical retreat plan. :p

He said what he wanted to do and the charm did work, but as the rules for the spell state; "If you ask the charmed creature to do something it wouldn't normally do, you must make an opposed charisma check" so seeing as the Fighter BBEG saved, I'd have just said he remains charmed, but refused to attack his ally.

Charm lasts an hour per level, so if the Charm succeeded, but the demand didn't, I'd have said he remained friendly towards the Enchanter, but the Enchanter would have to ask him to do something else next round as the action he attempted had already failed.

The problem is I don't think the BBEG would have attacked him, as he failed to save against the spell, but managed to save against the demand. Still, once you say you're going to do something at a table, you've gotta go through with it. It's cheating otherwise.

Dark Archive

IC knowledge vs Player knowledge trhead ... could go both ways, both sides have sound arguments to hold their position.

I don't think your call was wrong. Said that if you had ruled to warn the sorcerer, it would have been fine too.


blue_the_wolf wrote:

So a player of mine casts charm person on an important enemy.

The bad guy was part of a kind of 2 man BBEG. one is a muscle bound fighter and the other a sorceror.

anyway the muscle guy failed the save which was a pretty big deal because things did not look good for our heros

unfortunately the player then instructed muscles to bash brains.

he succeeded in the save, and then proceeded to focus all of his attention on the guy who was messing with his head.

on Muscles turn I let muscles make an another save as he had been instructed to do something he would not do.

Nobody gets the rules right all the time, and you also made up an impromptu house rule so he should have been upset. Dominate, not charm allows for a reroll in such situations. Defending on how far outside of the creature's nature it would be to attack the caster the player should have been allowed an opposed charisma check or he could just flat refused, but a 2nd saving throw should not have been given.

Now in this case I am assuming the player has no way to know how loyal muscles(fighter type) is to brains(caster), so I would have let the player know that muscles might resist the effort, and then ask him does he still want to try.


Jinnobi33 wrote:

Then they attempt to justify their failure by saying the GM should make it work. I want my characters to know what they can and can't do.

Nice assumption..


Gallo wrote:

Players with a spellcaster need to know the spells they plan to cast. If they haven't prepared a cheat sheet or at the very least bookmarked the relevant pages in the rule books then tough luck.

There are enough tools out there to easily create a simple list of spells and effects, e.g. Herolab or even a plain old Word doc, that if a player doesn't come to the session prepared then the DM shouldn't hold their hand.

That said, if the player is relatively new then a "Are you sure that is what you want to do this round?" with a raised eyebrow should give them a hint. For experienced players...... they should know better.

As a DM one of the most annoying things a player can do is search through spell lists when it is their turn on the initiative board. If they can't at the very least do it while other people are taking their turn then they don't deserve any help from the DM. Likewise the player who reads up on the grapple rules on their turn or someone who has to calculates their to hit and damage every round because they are too lazy to work it all out and write it down in advance (simple Excel spreadsheets are your friend).

Do you know how many threads there have been on these board regarding charm vs dominate? It seems many GM's and players mess those up all the time. Even the OP got it wrong, unless he has a houserule in place.


I believe that as GM it is my job to provide entertainment. However, what is entertaining? Handholding players? Not really. Not for me nor for the players.

With that said, if a player honestly forgets something I usually work with him or her in order to improve the story. In the game I GM there are two female non-gamer types who have been playing nearly a year now. Despite the year they are still relatively inexperienced. I have been slowly moving from 'handholding' them through combats to having them do everything on thier own. It is working out alright (although they are still far from 'real' gamers). The key issue is that we all have lots of fun (and we do).

- Gauss


Reading the situation again, how much experience the group has with the spell, how much experience the player has with the game, and casters in general should also be a factor. Some people also are just better at the game than others. All that should be a factor. Now if the player is always making the same mistakes or similar mistakes then I say let them learn the hard way. I had a player who would never cast defensively. Eventually I stopped giving warnings and started rolling dice. Dice are good training aids.

edit: changed "stopped rolling dice" to "started rolling dice"


good points Wraith

to be honest I generally expect my players to know more about their specific character than me. I know a lot about a lot but they should know more about the little they have to know in relation to their character.

having said that I had assumed that the rule for charm and dominate were the same, no house rule, i just got it wrong. (a fact that neither side even considered)

I feel as if I made the right GM decision at the time but ruled the spell incorrectly. no matter how it went it was not my fault he died... I mean.. honestly his allies threw him under the buss because with muscles out of the way they figured it was a lot easier to take on brains... which actually worked and turned what may have been a TPK to only loosing the caster.

With that in mind if the players actively try to get the character raised I will have a greatfull NPC cast the spell and necessary restoration spells for free.

Sczarni

As far as I'm concerned, the ruling of going back and changing previous actions is all dependent on the situation.

If your player made an honest mistake, it's one thing. On the other hand, if they act as though they're familiar with the spells and the effects of such spells, then throws a hissy when it's pointed out that it doesn't work or that they did it wrong... Well, that's just unfortunate.

For example, if I tried that with my 10th level spellcaster that I've been playing for well over a year, tough cookies for me. But if it's my Mum's new wizard that maybe just got to level 4 or 5, well I happen to know how well her mind can hold onto complex details and obscure information (aka - not so well), so... I'd let her redo it.

By the sound of it, though, I may have warned the player when they used the Charm spell and given them the whole, "Now, you're sure you wanna do that?" routine and asked them to look over the spell again.

However, I also wouldn't have had Muscles immediately go after your caster for making such a ridiculous and against-his-nature request. Perhaps have had him get angry and refuse to hurt Brains, much like most people would be offended and angry if told to hurt their close friends, regarding the request as outrageous and ridiculous.

Still, though, this should've (hopefully) been a learning experience for the player. Just a very unpleasant one.

Sczarni

blue_the_wolf wrote:

good points Wraith

to be honest I generally expect my players to know more about their specific character than me. I know a lot about a lot but they should know more about the little they have to know in relation to their character.

having said that I had assumed that the rule for charm and dominate were the same, no house rule, i just got it wrong. (a fact that neither side even considered)

I feel as if I made the right GM decision at the time but ruled the spell incorrectly. no matter how it went it was not my fault he died... I mean.. honestly his allies threw him under the buss because with muscles out of the way they figured it was a lot easier to take on brains... which actually worked and turned what may have been a TPK to only loosing the caster.

With that in mind if the players actively try to get the character raised I will have a greatfull NPC cast the spell and necessary restoration spells for free.

The fact that the party threw the caster under the bus like that is really unfortunate, and I wouldn't blame that player for being upset. Especially if the party doesn't try to help bring that character back. Yes he made a mistake, but unless that character alienated himself from the party through their previous behavior, a party's job should be that of working together.


blue_the_wolf wrote:


I feel as if I made the right GM decision at the time but ruled the spell incorrectly. no matter how it went it was not my fault he died... I mean.. honestly his allies threw him under the buss because with muscles out of the way they figured it was a lot easier to take on brains... which actually worked and turned what may have been a TPK to only loosing the caster.

That is not cool, but then again if the party feels like you are better as a sacrifice..... :)

Lantern Lodge

Bandavaar the Brave wrote:


He said what he wanted to do and the charm did work, but as the rules for the spell state; "If you ask the charmed creature to do something it wouldn't normally do, you must make an opposed charisma check" so seeing as the Fighter BBEG saved, I'd have just said he remains charmed, but refused to attack his ally.

Charm lasts an hour per level, so if the Charm succeeded, but the demand didn't, I'd have said he remained friendly towards the Enchanter, but the Enchanter would have to ask him to do something else next round as the action he attempted had already failed.

The problem is I don't think the BBEG would have attacked him, as he failed to save against the spell, but managed to save against the demand. Still, once you say you're going to do something at a table, you've gotta go through with it. It's cheating otherwise.

Bandavaar is right on this point. Charm person should not have break.

That said. A player SHOULD know what his or her spells/feats/powers/summons does.
The DM is not oblige to "warn" a player at every turn of bad cocquences. (Unless the DM thinks the character should know.)

HOWEVER, a DM should know what a spell/power..etc can or cannot do.
There are cases where I have seen fellow players cast spells and make them do things way beyond what that spell can do. With the DM being not familiar with the spell allowing it...
Charm spells suddenly became dominate spells. Spells with no effect on saves, suddenly have extra effects...etc.

To OP, you are right that you should not warn him, but unless the caster or his allies have "threatened" the muscle bound fighter, the charmed person spell should still be in effect.


wraithstrike wrote:


Do you know how many threads there have been on these board regarding charm vs dominate? It seems many GM's and players mess those up all the time. Even the OP got it wrong, unless he has a houserule in place.

Yup. But even though the "muscle" should have to win an opposed Charisma check rather than get another save, if the player had known the spell better when the DM tried to say another save was allowed the player could have then been the one raising the eyebrow and saying "Are you sure....?" ;-)


Killing the PC wasn't the most diplomatic thing you could have done there. If things were going badly for the party, I'd have had the fighter grapple, being so angry he wanted to pound his face into the ground, or use nonlethal combat, for the same reason.

And there' should have been an opposed Charisma check, not another save, as many have pointed out.

Since you got the rule wrong, I'd start the next session with the Sorcerer in a coma, not dead, and getting a cool scar when he's revived.


I'm sure many other people do this, but when players want to draw on knowledge their character would have known, I sometimes offer a skill check. In this case, Knowledge: Arcana could have been used.


Charm only makes the caster friendly to the victim/target. The victim/target will still dislike the rest of the group just as much as he did before the caster charmed him.

Thus, "muscles" - now friendly to TWO caster types - would most likely have waltzed over to the other PCs (who are still foes) and disembowelled them instead.


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Strictly speaking, charm person only makes the target friendly to the caster. It does not make the target unfriendly to former friends.

Whenever these spells are cast in my games, I always have the charmed NPC attempt to play "peacemaker" between his original friend and his "new" friend, depending on the culture of the target. Some targets are very prone to betraying their allies, as they may have already been considering it, and the charm effect is just the chance they were waiting for.

Anyway — the misunderstanding of charm as a "give orders" kind of spell is fairly widespread. Players definitely need to understand the difference, but the time to explain it to him was probably at the moment he gave the command.

Were I the GM, I would have said something like:

"I don't think that command is likely to work. Remember, this NPC now thinks he is your friend, but his feelings toward his ally are not changed by the spell, and he still decides his own actions. Maybe telling him to restrain the sorcerer until you can "talk through this misunderstanding" would be more appropriate, given your PC's knowledge of the charm spell."

Yes, it's holding the PC's hand a bit, but it only needs to be done once. If I did my job as GM with the encounter balance math, then all should be well.


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blue_the_wolf wrote:

good points Wraith

to be honest I generally expect my players to know more about their specific character than me. I know a lot about a lot but they should know more about the little they have to know in relation to their character.

having said that I had assumed that the rule for charm and dominate were the same, no house rule, i just got it wrong. (a fact that neither side even considered)

I feel as if I made the right GM decision at the time but ruled the spell incorrectly. no matter how it went it was not my fault he died... I mean.. honestly his allies threw him under the buss because with muscles out of the way they figured it was a lot easier to take on brains... which actually worked and turned what may have been a TPK to only loosing the caster.

With that in mind if the players actively try to get the character raised I will have a greatfull NPC cast the spell and necessary restoration spells for free.

As a part time rules lawyer and full time GM, I don't think it's fair to lecture a player about knowing the rules and then kill the player's character after getting the rules wrong yourself. Own up to your mistake and tell the player that both of you will look over the rules for next time.


I do agree that the player needs to know their character and what they can and cannot do. However, with his character dead is this player still wanting to play?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I think you were completely fair. I would have said something about how magic is dangerous and you have to know what you are doing or it can blow up in your face. In fact, my general rule is that if you take a spell or feat and don't know how it works, then you either can't use it yet or you accept the consequences if you misuse it.

On the other hand, I think you have to ask yourself if you have let other players off the hook in similar situations. In my experience, my players are usually most angry at me when I increase my expectations without telling them.


Getting the caster restored to life without significant loss of resource or ability is my way of making it right for ruling the spell wrong. I will explain where we were both wrong and basically hand wave him back to life with the memory of his spell going wrong.

having said that I generally play my characters and NPCs to feel that mental attacks are an absolutely horrible experience, something akin to rape of the mind. I never flat out explained this (though they know it now) but I have always expressed it in story. In fact the player used the spell on another NPC as a form of interrogation and I made it clear that the jailer and victim were pretty upset by this. And mentioned that the world in general consider such tactics not exactly evil (at least not as bad as torture) but definitely underhanded (kind of like the way only bad guys use things like "truth serum" to get the answers out of the good guys in movies.)

I have also explained to my players that they should always consider tactics and state of the enemy in game. I am one of those GMs who gives my NPCs a little corner of my mind in which to reside where they have their own intelligence, morals, goals and quirks. while I generally wont go out of my way to focus fire on a player drive him into the dirt the way muscles did... I am also generally not the kind to say "how many hit points do you have left" so that the enemy pulls his punches or attacks some one against his normal reasoning. Thus players should be aware of whats going on and not expect me to go soft on them just because the next hit is pretty much guaranteed to put them under 0 (in this case an unfoturnately good damage roll also put him under con.)


blue_the_wolf wrote:

So a player of mine casts charm person on an important enemy.

The bad guy was part of a kind of 2 man BBEG. one is a muscle bound fighter and the other a sorceror.

anyway the muscle guy failed the save which was a pretty big deal because things did not look good for our heros

unfortunately the player then instructed muscles to bash brains.

on Muscles turn I let muscles make an another save as he had been instructed to do something he would not do.

he succeeded in the save, and then proceeded to focus all of his attention on the guy who was messing with his head.

The player became upset with this and I had to explain to him the difference between charm person and dominate type spells and the extra save clause in the spell and he basically said that he didn't know that and if he had known he would have spoken differently, a part of his rant was that I should have told him he was doing something so obviously detrimental if for no other reason than even if he did not know that fact about the spell his character would know and not make that mistake.

that last part is important.

My retort was that its not my job as GM to protect his character from his lack of knowledge. Its my belief that at the very least a player should have a working knowledge of every skill, feat, ability and spell a player has opted to use. This is especially true for spell casters as their spells have so much versitility. and I refused to allow him to take back the action.

Your mistake, you are basically saying, it's ok for you to change how the spell is used because you don't know it, but it's not ok for the player to do so. It should always be the opposite. Always defer to the player's interpretation if you don't know yourself. If you think it's wrong, ask them to look it up (you do get the GM perk of saying show me) or otherwise rule in a way that leaves the player with a clear understanding of what their action means. (If the answer is they don't know that's ok but they should be allowed to understand before acting).

blue_the_wolf wrote:


this eventually resulted in the characters death.

Here is my question.

should I have allowed the player to basically go back ... about half a round of initiative to change his action or did I do the right thing and the player will learn from the experience.

Every group has to decide for themselves how to deal with errors. Generally you want to rule in favor of the players. Again the solution should have been, the player looks up the spells exact wording for you and you interpret it and rule what's best for the game, defer to the player when in doubt.

blue_the_wolf wrote:


to be honest I did not know that the player did not know the rule when he chose how to direct muscles. I thought he was just hoping that the NPC would fail the second save and at the very least interrupt brains-es actions.

I hope now that plenty have pointed out the spell was miss interpreted that you realize the irony that the player didn't know you didn't know the rule either.

blue_the_wolf wrote:


however, after i felt no need to change things...

As GM you should always doubt any action that leaves a player disenchanted.

As roguerouge said, next session let him wake from being knocked out. Use the fact that muscles was subject to the charm effect to say that with his divided loyalty he pulled his punch at the last minute, making the visible horrific attack less damaging than it seemed.


Illuminar said wrote:
Every group has to decide for themselves how to deal with errors. Generally you want to rule in favor of the players. Again the solution should have been, the player looks up the spells exact wording for you and you interpret it and rule what's best for the game, defer to the player when in doubt.

That's going to slow the game down though.

I'm a mostly new player. I've read the rulebook but don't have a lot of practical experience, and I either forget or get stuff mixed up frequently at the table. My DM has no problem saying "No, it's this way" and moving on with it. I just have to shrug, say Mea Culpa, and move on with the rest of the game. If we stopped to check the books every time play would slow to a crawl.

I prefer magic users, but I also realize they are the most complex characters of the game. So I've printed out a copy of Parrem's Spellbook (just the cards that I have as spells, as I'm a sorcerer) and keep them at hand to look at things like duration or the longer sets of rules for weird spells. With a reference so quickly at hand, it doesn't slow things down to double check what the DM says. I'd recommend something similar for your player.

Now, if it's something I don't have at hand...

The best suggestion I've seen was on this site. It went something like this: Let the player choose whether he wants to contest the decision (and look it up right then) or temporarily accept the decision (and look it up later).

Look it up at the table-
The DM is right: player is penalized, or the bad guys are buffed.
The player is right: Game moves on with the correction made.

Look it up later-
The DM is right: no big deal.
The player is right: his character gets thrown a bone that makes up for the error (like healing or a free resurrection, if it comes to that) and puts him a little ahead of where he'd have been (like a small magic item, or a hero point).

This way, the players are encouraged not to slow down the game, but have the option of risking a penalty if they really feel it's That Important.

As to what to do next session? Go with the 'look it up later and the player is right' option. I would also role play out some sort of reaction to the rest of the party, because that was a pretty scummy thing for them to do. Maybe you can get the NPC that raises the mage to give the party a lecture. "You guys are supposed to be the good guys! You'd abandon your teammate on the field of battle? For shame!"

I feel for your player. Just had my first character death last month. The session began as the characters headed into a boss fight. 5 minutes into the game, I'm cackling at the damage roll on my first lightning bolt and the DM says "Wow, that sure was impressive! Okay, her turn. Caster, make a fort save. Oh... well you're dead then." From 'this is a lot of fun!' to 'okay, let's be mature about this. Don't make an ass of yourself in front of the table' in like 5 seconds. Talk about whiplash...


I agree illuminar: DM should know the rules and I bite the bullet for that.
Having said that I still think that the player should know MORE about their specific character related issues than the DM is required to. The DM has to know a whole lot at all times about every NPC, monster, Character, story line, general rules, obscure exceptions etc etc. so when the DM misses something the player should say "ah.. i think thats different" and generally in relation to that players character I will differ to the player in the ruling and we will look it up later.

however in this case it didn't happen it was a situation where, i knew enough to know he was wrong... but he didn't know enough to know that I was also wrong. He never challenged that there was a problem telling a charmed individual to do something against his will... only that I should have told him or warned him about it. He then never challenged my actions which i would have said something like "really? it doesn't break charm? lets look it up real quick" a 1 minute exercise as we have both books and D20PFSRD available for any such questions.

enthused: your plan of having your own "spell book" is exactly right. spells have so many funky quirks and special rules its hard for any one to have it all right. it makes them powerful but also very complicated.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

I dunno, my group generally has everyone watching out for this sort of thing and giving each other warnings like "That'd grant another save" or "That'd provoke an attack of opportunity".

People aren't perfect with the rules or recognizing certain situations, but as a collaborative effort you can get pretty good awareness going.


One of the most common questions I use as GM is, "Are you sure?" I’d at least have given him this much when he said what he was going to tell muscles. Any time a player says that they want to do something I feel their character would probably not do because they’d know better I ask this. I also generally allow players to make an intelligence, wisdom, or skill check as I feel is appropriate for a hint as to what I perceive as being a problem (Providing this is the first time they made this mistake). Afterward, I usually let them squirm and scramble for a minute. Then, in the interest of keeping things moving, I tell them I need an answer or they’ll miss their turn.

The way I see it, people make mistakes. Whether they forgot or simply didn’t learn it well enough I don’t know so I typically give them the benefit of the doubt. Case and point, as wraithstrike pointed out above you yourself erred as to what the rule was. All of that said, I think your solution; using a grateful NPC to provide a raise dead and restoration for free is fair.


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Lots of things going on here that should be addressed.

Let's first assume, in spite of evidence to the contrary, that the OP as the GM perfectly implemented the rules and that the actions of his NPCs was beyond question. In that sense we can ask the question: "Should the GM intervene to protect a PC from the player's intentional or unintentional attempt to do something with potentially serious negative consequences to that character?"

The answer to that question is "it depends.". Normally I do even for my most experienced players. I don't want them to do something foolish if it can be avoided, although if they insist, then that's different. But is it "right" to knowingly allow a character to do something foolish without warning the player? No, it's not "right" nor is it "wrong", it depends on too many factors to go into here.

But that's not actually what happened here.

The GM did not follow the rules correctly, multiple times in fact. The GM errored on the result of the charmed NPC being asked to do something that he wouldn't normally do. The GM then had the NPC react in a way that the NPC should not have reacted. And finally the GM pressed that reaction fully until the character in question was dead.

Does the player have a right to be upset? I think so. But not merely because the GM ruled the charmed NPC received a second save.

What I find most interesting about the situation is that there are so many people responding with "yeah, the player got what he deserved, he should know the rules better." Well, he knew the rules at least as well as the GM did, but I don't see anyone suggesting that the GM should have "paid for" his ignorance.

In this situation, if I were the GM in question, I would at the very least apologize profusely to the player for having not only gotten the rules wrong, but for having lectured the player about getting the rules wrong after getting them wrong myself. It's probably too late to retcon the whole adventure, but I would make it clear to the player that his character wasn't dead just because he misunderstood the charm spell. That's not what killed his character. His character died because of a far more significant misunderstanding of the rules by the GM.


Bart Vervaet wrote:
If this was a new player I would cut him some slack, but if it was an experienced player I would expect him to know how the spells/feats/abilities his character uses, and I would hqve done the same thing

+1

We're not all gurus and Charm Person is one of the pinnacle misunderstood as 'dominate' spells. Not because of the player, but mostly because other GM's continue to run it as such. AD is also right though, it was handled in error. Sometimes as a GM if we don't know for sure, we have to go back and look things up. If game flow is important and you're comfortable, you can make a GM ruling and proceed.

In this case AD is right that an error was made. With such a command it depends on the characters motives, alignment and relationship with is true 'allies' at the time. However, if your order, if followed out made him believe it would result in death than he would simply not follow the suggestion. For him to give a suggestion to harm another ally would require an opposed Charisma check, and even then he won't slice and dice. More likely he would use non-lethal methods to resolve an issue between two trusted friends and allies.

I think you need to consider his experience, his understanding of the game, etc... We can't baby players and reverse all mistakes. Making mistakes are part of the game and what makes it so interesting.

However, if they were new to casters, new to the game or new to my table I would have given some kind of lee-way depending. If they were more experienced, then no, it is a lesson to read your spells ahead of time, or better, OoC and ask about it first so that you are clear on the understanding of the spells limitations.

This was a costly lesson though, for both parties.


I have a group that I used to play w/ on a regular basis, until I moved away. Since then, I try and play through skype when I can. I was the gm for them for about 3 years, running various systems. I would never let them take back a move. People need to deal w/ the consequences. Heroes make mistakes. Life happens.
Since I have moved away, and they have taken turns as gm, or found other gms, I have learned that anytime someone messes up, or "accidentally" does something detrimental, such as your above incident, they all just say something like "that didn't happen" and redo the whole scene. A few months ago I was running a homebrew dungeon through skype for them, and when I would not let them take something back they all proceeded to get pissy and mopey and I forced them to deal w/ it and move on. We never had a second session.
Players make mistakes all the time, so do gms. People need to take the time to know everything about their character, and everything that they can do. A player should not, in my opinion, be running a spell caster is they do not take the time to study and know every spell first.
As for what you did, I totally agree w/ how you handled the situation. If the player would have taken the time to read the spell through, he would have worded his commands differently. I have a player right now that is running a half-elf barbarian. Since first level I was always wondering why he was dealing so much damage with his off hand attack, but since he was crit failing more than anything, I let it slide. When he reached third level he took the feat that allows you to add your strength mod to damage w/ off hand. The other players helped him choose it, and when they did his response was "You don't add strength mod into off hand attacks?" People need to know everything their characters can do, and cannot do.


like I said .. I didnt know I got it wrong.. neither did any one else until I brought this up and was corrected. and i never told the player he got anything wrong... i simply told him he could not go back and change it for having miss used the spell.

I was wrong to allow the save that broke the spell, i had confused that with dominate.

however

Quote:
The GM then had the NPC react in a way that the NPC should not have reacted. And finally the GM pressed that reaction fully until the character in question was dead.

The NPC acted exactly like it would act upon realizing some one had employed mind magic on him. (note: muscles is a somewhat simple minded fighter with one level of barbarian just so that he can rage out under the right circumstances like brains dying, certain insults or receiving a critical hit, it just so happened that in my world mind magic is so generally disliked and uncomfortable I reasoned that he would find that also a sufficient reason to flip out. as noted above mind magic is something akin to mental rape) granted the spell should not have broken so he would have been delayed in his reaction but having ruled that it broke the NPC did exactly as he should. the Players dont feel as if I unfairly killed him, only that I should have let him take it back.


Well, it was mishandled by both parties. If the event wasn't too long ago maybe you can retcon it, or weave him back in somehow. I believe in such a case where an error occurred on both sides such an action is acceptable.

GM's need to feel that the players know their characters, and that a GM will fairly rule. This keeps the sense of trust and coherency needed in a play group. I think.

Others jumping in with a stark defence, please note that errors were made by the GM in this case and he acknowledges there was a botch. He would like advice on what he should do now and in the future.


I have been in similar situations, as I have a lot of players who don't know the rules. My solution is spell-cards (I print them from Perram's Spellbook) that I give to my players so that they can select their spells, and don't have to look them up to know what they do. I do the same with feats, but it's less important.


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"How about we all stop guessing and pull out the rule book to check?"

That's a sentence I've found that saves a LOT of arguing and clears up a lot rules related issues.

I suggest both the player AND the GM use that sentence with great frequency from here on.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Revel wrote:

One of the most common questions I use as GM is, "Are you sure?" I’d at least have given him this much when he said what he was going to tell muscles. Any time a player says that they want to do something I feel their character would probably not do because they’d know better I ask this. I also generally allow players to make an intelligence, wisdom, or skill check as I feel is appropriate for a hint as to what I perceive as being a problem (Providing this is the first time they made this mistake). Afterward, I usually let them squirm and scramble for a minute. Then, in the interest of keeping things moving, I tell them I need an answer or they’ll miss their turn.

"Are you sure?" is probably one of the more important questions in a GM's toolkit. If the player is trying to use a spell or power in a way that's not correct, I usually assume they are doing so in error or based on a misconception. As GM, I try to correct rule-based misconceptions whenever I can.


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blue_the_wolf wrote:

like I said .. I didnt know I got it wrong.. neither did any one else until I brought this up and was corrected. and i never told the player he got anything wrong... i simply told him he could not go back and change it for having miss used the spell.

I was wrong to allow the save that broke the spell, i had confused that with dominate.

however

Quote:
The GM then had the NPC react in a way that the NPC should not have reacted. And finally the GM pressed that reaction fully until the character in question was dead.
The NPC acted exactly like it would act upon realizing some one had employed mind magic on him. (note: muscles is a somewhat simple minded fighter with one level of barbarian just so that he can rage out under the right circumstances like brains dying, certain insults or receiving a critical hit, it just so happened that in my world mind magic is so generally disliked and uncomfortable I reasoned that he would find that also a sufficient reason to flip out. as noted above mind magic is something akin to mental rape) granted the spell should not have broken so he would have been delayed in his reaction but having ruled that it broke the NPC did exactly as he should. the Players dont feel as if I unfairly killed him, only that I should have let him take it back.

Blue, I am not trying to harsh on you. I've made plenty of mistakes myself. What I am trying to do is provide an objective analysis of the situation.

You had the NPC react in a way that made sense to you based entirely on your misunderstanding of the rule in question.

When I say the NPC reacted differently than they should have, I mean that very specifically by RAW. The save you gave it created a situation that broke the rules. Had the rules been followed, the NPC would not have attacked the PC because he would still have been friendly towards him. He just wouldn't have attacked 'brains'. My point is that your player's character died not because HE made a mistake, but because YOU made a mistake. That should be acknowledged. Both of you made mistakes, but the PCs mistake should have been:

PC: "Go kill the smart guy!"
Muscles: "But, he's my FRIEND! I can't kill him."
PC: "Oh... um... well, stop him from attacking me!"
Muscles: "Um... hey brains, stop attacking them!"

Etc...

The PC died because of the GMs misunderstanding of the spell, not because of the player's misunderstanding. That's a very, very significant thing to understand.


blue_the_wolf wrote:

like I said .. I didnt know I got it wrong.. neither did any one else until I brought this up and was corrected. and i never told the player he got anything wrong... i simply told him he could not go back and change it for having miss used the spell.

I was wrong to allow the save that broke the spell, i had confused that with dominate.

however

Quote:
The GM then had the NPC react in a way that the NPC should not have reacted. And finally the GM pressed that reaction fully until the character in question was dead.
The NPC acted exactly like it would act upon realizing some one had employed mind magic on him. (note: muscles is a somewhat simple minded fighter with one level of barbarian just so that he can rage out under the right circumstances like brains dying, certain insults or receiving a critical hit, it just so happened that in my world mind magic is so generally disliked and uncomfortable I reasoned that he would find that also a sufficient reason to flip out. as noted above mind magic is something akin to mental rape) granted the spell should not have broken so he would have been delayed in his reaction but having ruled that it broke the NPC did exactly as he should. the Players dont feel as if I unfairly killed him, only that I should have let him take it back.

That's fine, except he would have not done so for 1 hour/level when the duration expired, providing nobody attacked him in the meantime. So in that light, the NPC did react in a way that the NPC should not have reacted. In otherwords what Adamantine Dragon is trying to get at.

Of course considering that nobody read the spell you may have both missed that as a creature being threatened or attacked by the player or his allies he would have gotten a +5 bonus to his will save. So at the end of the day it could have all still gone down as it was played, so don't feel too bad about it.

Just make whatever ruling will best put this behind you. Muscles doing subdule damage for the "killing blow" seems a quick and easy fix but do what you feel is right for your game. Maybe you need the free raise dead to bind the characters to a church's service for the next adventure. That's ok too.


Jinnobi33 wrote:

No, you did the right thing. As GMs it's difficult trying to get your players to become responsible at times. They tend to pick spells or companions that make others shake their heads. Then they attempt to justify their failure by saying the GM should make it work. I want my characters to know what they can and can't do.

Tell them to know what they're good at. If that's spellcasting, know your spells. If it's fighting, know the special maneuvers such bull rush or grappling. If everyone knows their characters, then we all have a much better time playing.

I agree with this.

As a player, there isn't really much to do other than to know your characters abilities and then play them the best you can. If you aren't even doing that, you are basically asking the GM to play your character for you. What's the point then?

The only time I jump in with a rules update or warning for the player is if the player is understandably ignorant of the general rules due to a lack of experience with the game, or if the conflict is over fluff they might not understand.

For example, if a player is down to 1 hit point and doesn't want to get hit again, he might say, "I run away." If that's the case, he might not know or might have forgotten how AoOs work, so I would explain he will take an AoO for it, especially if he doesn't really know the complicated rules.

Or, if the PC's come up with a plan like, "lets sink the boat by cutting a hole in its side," I might warn them that all it would do is flood one compartment, because there is no reasonable way they could know what I'm thinking or how boats work in this game.

On the other hand, players only have a couple pages of material to start with, and a few paragraphs per level to read an understand when it comes to their characters special abilities. Even a noob should figure that stuff out in short order, and simply not reading it isn't an excuse for playing your hand wrong.


No worries AD, I take no offense to anything said at any point in this thread.

It has been a great discussion.

ultimately I made a mistake in how I ruled the spell by having it break as dominate would with a second save.

unfortunately, even more importantly, the fact still stands that the player should know the spell. Had he known the spell he would have not only have avoided misuse of the spell by giving an order Muscles would object to but he would have been able to say "ok, he doesnt do it but it doesnt break the spell he just gets a charisma check and i can order him to do something else" I would have said something like
"Oh, really? ok bring up the spell real quick and in the mean time Muscles stands around looking confused"

I think the bottom line is that, and this is my opinion, players should know their character and its related spells and abilities even better than the GM. we all make mistakes but I personally think that since characters have a smaller area of responsibility they have a greater responsibility to know as much as possible about that area of responsibility.

having said that.. i accept my error as GM and will have him raised free of penalty.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

As the circumstance of what inspired this thread has been resolved, I won't speak to it specifically.

But generally --

It depends a lot on the player, the situation, and how long we've been playing the game. I absolutely expect my players to know how to play their characters, and if someone's been playing that character forever and they make a simple oversight, that's on them. Again, depending on the circumstances, I might say, "are you sure?" Sometimes a situation may not be obvious to the player even if they know their character well.

And also, with spellcasting in particular, there's a few mitigating issues:
- Pathfinder spells are often very complicated. I've played Pathfinder awhile and while I know how most spells work, I certainly can't and won't try to memorize every spell, and don't that extreme of my players either. And the OP's error in allowing a save when charm person doesn't actually call for that proves the issue of complicated spells--it can be extremely easy to confuse spells for the other or misremember mechanics if the time is not taken to look them up.
- Along with this, character sheets include only brief descriptions of spells, and a player who feels pressed for time may refer to his or her character sheet rather than look up the full description in the book. And some of these brief descriptions (e.g., "you make one person your friend") are very vague, without ANY suggestion there might be more complex stipulations in the full description. While this does NOT excuse a player from knowing how his character works or his spells, it's certainly understandable if a player who is pressed to act checks the brief description, assumes they've got all the information they need, and goes with it before realizing something's missing.

One solution here is to make sure the group has an easy spell reference such as spell cards or the spell look up in Kyle Olson's Combat Manager. I think it is fair to say to players, look up your full spell description before your turn comes around. That may be a clear "rule"/guideline that needs to be established.

And for spellcasting, while I expect my players to know how their spells work, I always look up the full description myself (with the help of Combat Manager in my case) and double check what they want to do against their statement of action. Again, many spells are complicated and they are easy to misinterpret even by a veteran player. So while as GM it is not my responsibility to know how a character is played better necessarily than the player of said character, it is my job to make sure rules are applied and interpreted consistently, and sometimes it does require some extra rules checking.

It's important not to coddle but it is also important to be sure everyone's on the same page with a rules interpretation.


Gallo wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


Do you know how many threads there have been on these board regarding charm vs dominate? It seems many GM's and players mess those up all the time. Even the OP got it wrong, unless he has a houserule in place.
Yup. But even though the "muscle" should have to win an opposed Charisma check rather than get another save, if the player had known the spell better when the DM tried to say another save was allowed the player could have then been the one raising the eyebrow and saying "Are you sure....?" ;-)

That does nothing to counter my last post. It really enforces it. :)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

As a GM I would tell the player:

"Hey buddy, this would go against Muscle's nature. You'll need to win an opposed Charisma check in order to get him to do that."

If the player goes: "Whoops I didn't realize, uh, instead I ask him to go hold his friend as his hostility is what's causing this fight."

Then it's a GM call if the Charisma check is still required. If it is though you should again flag it to the player.

Whenever a player is about to do something stupid as a GM you should say: "Are you sure you want to do that?"

The PC can press on and wear the consequences or change their mind. This is particularly true for characters with a high intelligence. (Characters with low intelligence, I let do stupid stuff right away. That's what low-Int means after all).


cranewings wrote:
Jinnobi33 wrote:

No, you did the right thing. As GMs it's difficult trying to get your players to become responsible at times. They tend to pick spells or companions that make others shake their heads. Then they attempt to justify their failure by saying the GM should make it work. I want my characters to know what they can and can't do.

Tell them to know what they're good at. If that's spellcasting, know your spells. If it's fighting, know the special maneuvers such bull rush or grappling. If everyone knows their characters, then we all have a much better time playing.

I agree with this.

As a player, there isn't really much to do other than to know your characters abilities and then play them the best you can. If you aren't even doing that, you are basically asking the GM to play your character for you. What's the point then?
.....

Even a noob should figure that stuff out in short order, and simply not reading it isn't an excuse for playing your hand wrong.

Many players follow the lead of the GM, and since the GM misinterpreted the charm spell, how are we to know he did not get his wrong interpretation from another GM, and it has been pointed out that charm is treated as dominate even by experienced players. If this was a spell that was as straight forward as magic missile or fireball, the I might agree. Taken out of context your idea makes sense, but in this situation it does not carry as much weight.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Yes, players ARE responsible for knowing their characters and their characters abilities.

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