To all the GMs out there who feel the need to punish


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Ravingdork wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Punishment, in my mind at least, is the GM taking some negative action against a player (or their character) as a reaction of some kind, with no intent of said action improving the game for anyone.

Like letting a player's cohort attempt a craft wondrous item with at 80%+ chance of being cursed and no chance whatsoever of succeeding?

Ravingdork wrote:
I prefer transparency too
Ravingdork wrote:
Why give a hint, when you can give clear communication?

Like asking that player, "Are you sure?" instead of informing them that what they are trying will not work and will likely turn out poorly?

It that the kind of thing you are talking about when you tell people not to punish their players?

I never claimed to be perfect, or even a role model. At least I try to make amends for my mistakes (as I did with the one you allude to).

I credit you for that, however, ranting about others transgressions just comes across somewhat hollow. Like it or not, you are a public figure around here. New players (and GM's) on the boards will look to you as a role model especially given the number of posts you make in the rules and advice subforums.


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This thread can only end in tragedy.


BigDTBone wrote:
I credit you for that, however, ranting about others transgressions just comes across somewhat hollow. Like it or not, you are a public figure around here. New players (and GM's) on the boards will look to you as a role model especially given the number of posts you make in the rules and advice subforums.

Let us consider the RavingDork's statement to be amended with "and if you think you might have screwed up, check with some third parties and adjust your behavior as necessary."

Demanding perfection of someone is ridiculous. And there's nothing wrong with looking to RD as a role model. He isn't perfect, but when he screws up he seems to check with others and change as needed. The most important thing one can learn is to learn from one's mistakes.

Also this is rather different than the purposeful punishing RavingDork was talking about. Accidentally making a mistake, realizing it soon after it happens, and then checking with others so you can fix it...isn't really anything other than human.

And hey, even if he was making a post telling people not to make the same mistakes he has made....is there something wrong with that? If so, what?


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
BigDTBone wrote:
Like it or not, you are a public figure around here. New players (and GM's) on the boards will look to you as a role model especially given the number of posts you make in the rules and advice subforums.

I will keep that in mind.


OMG! I didn't read the whole thread; only the first few posts. Then my rage-o-meter went off. Time out!

Sir Dork of Ravington: I agree with the original intent of the thread (if I've grasped it right) - there is NEVER a need to punish a character for the transgressions of the player. Now, if the guy running the character is told "don't open this door under penalty of death!" by the local monarch herself and promptly spends an hour of game time convincing the party to open the door and getting it done...yes; he should expect his character to die. Because you TOLD him it would happen. But, if on the other hand you just hinted that the door shouldn't be opened and the same thing happens, everyone at the table should just roll with it.

Bottom line: you all got together to play a game. You've all gathered together to unwind, chill, and enjoy one another's company while doing a hobby together. If that hobby were golf, would you be justified in hitting a guy w/a club, or driving down the course leaving him behind because that guy was being an ass to the drink cart lady?

But that's a bad example isn't it? This hobby is one where there's one guy that's supposed to be in charge and another group of folks who are working together to achieve an objective you've laid out for them. Sounds like my job to be honest, so I'll go that way instead.

I am on a project team with several other admins. My boss comes to us and says we want you to pull reporting on your vendor contracts, determine the value-add agreements and work w/your vendors to eliminate the unused/old contracts we have in the system so we don't waste time maintaining them. Now right afterwards one of the team members begins taking 6 smoke breaks a day, monopolizing the department resources and generally making a spectacle of himself.

I would NOT expect my manager to come right in and punish the guy. No, what I'd hope is that after the disruptive behavior is noted and reported, my manager would have a closed door meeting w/the guy. Maybe his wife left him; maybe his dog died; perhaps his house is about to be foreclosed on. Worse yet, what if the guy has a mood disorder and just went off his meds?

If my manager said "huh, takin an extra half hour at lunch huh? Well, now you're suspended a day w/out pay - how ya like THEM apples huh buddy?" then what's to say that guy doesn't become a statistic for workplace violence?

Listen, all the OP is saying is that we wouldn't be so childish as to punish bad behavior w/out direct confrontation in any other place (at least, that's what I'm hoping since I'm saying this). We wouldn't snipe at one another at work, on the golf course, in a classroom, or anywhere. We wouldn't inflict this vitriolic revenge-culture on our kids, our friends, our family or anyone. If we DID, we'd be no better than the jackasses we're punishing.

If you don't want to agree w/me, or you think you're doing nothing wrong or that I'm in fact the jackass for chiming in, fine. But just remember - we're all at the table to have fun. No one of us is MORE right or justified to have fun the way we do than any OTHER person there, nor does being GM make you somehow IN CONTROL of EVERYTHING. It ONLY means you're in control of the environment and the rules thereof of the gameworld. THAT'S IT.

Being GM does NOT give you the right to dictate morals, standards of ethics, or expected behavior. Neither does being a player. But just by being HUMAN you have the right to not be bullied, picked on, or otherwise forced out of the game by a jackass. And as in EVERY other arena of your life you shouldn't meet the shenanigans with cruelty of your own, but rather you should assert yourself, explain why their naughtiness is hindering your fun, and ask for a bit of understanding from them of your rights.

If you've done that though; you've CLEARLY laid out that you don't like the jackassery and that it's hurting the party, AND you've said that if it goes on there'll be x consequences, then a minute later the meanie says "screw it: I open the box containing all evil cause I really want to!" then fine: Rocks Fall, He Dies...

Liberty's Edge

Whale_Cancer wrote:
Also, what is meant precisely by punishing?

Roll a d20. That's how many minutes you have to keep the nipple clamps on...

Shadow Lodge

I don't know if I've ever been guilty of being that GM, but I have to say that even if I have, I heartily agree with Ravingdork's original post.

The position is very easy to abuse, and very difficult to be mindful of that sometimes. You might be abusing it without realising it.


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Let me simplify this little rant.

1. No rule is universal for every group

2. The GM should be the ultimate decision maker.

3. The GM should never take out revenge or punishment in game.

4. The GM should listen to his players. Its his job to make sure they are having fun.

5. 99.9% of all issues in a game can we worked out if the GM is willing to TALK them out with his players.

P.S. Before you disagree with any of my points... see Rule 1.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
Punishment, in my mind at least, is the GM taking some negative action against a player (or their character) as a reaction of some kind, with no intent of said action improving the game for anyone. Same could be said in reverse (a player could attempt to punish his GM in some way).

Fair enough and thanks for not taking my request for specifics as an insult. Debate and discussion is useful but generalities don't give much traction for such.

Quote:
A GM saying summoners are not allowed at the start of a a game because they are not appropriate to the campaign is NOT a punishment. Feeling that the summoner is overpowered and having the summoner's summon spell-like ability no longer function mid-campaign IS.

Mmm. I dunno. Depends. If it's a surprise - say in the middle of combat - that's pretty bogus for a DM to do. If a DM declares changes to rules, including table-rules mid-campaign that may not be.

"I know I said I'd try allowing evil PCs but this isn't working out. Bob, your Dexter-in-Golarion character is going to prison this session and you'll need to make a new one for next week."

Nothing wrong with that.

"You know Sandra, the whole does-moronic-damage-on-the-first-attack thing your Smite Evil does? That's not working out so good since it turns out your PC is one-shotting everything I can throw at it. Great job going for the keen scimitar by the way, since you're critting on the first hit about one encounter in four and nuking things five CRs higher than your party. So... from now on you can just ignore the thing about doubling the bonus to damage on the first hit against undead, evil outsiders, and evil dragons."

Nothing wrong with that, really.

"Man, that's so weird. Bradley the Bard starts to sing, figuring he's going to bolster the party's attacks as usual but suddenly he dies of throat cancer so roll up a character that doesn't annoy me."

THAT's bigtime wrong.

Quote:
Asking a player of a powerful character to tone it back some so that the other players can have some limelight in the action is NOT a punishment. Contriving a situation where ONLY the powerful PC is hopelessly screwed, IS.

Sounds like a DM that's taken it in-character... an assassination attempt. Kind of crude and rude, yeah. Wonder if the player did anything to escalate things to such a point.

Quote:

There's certainly a bit of gray area to be sure. For example, a GM creating a pseudo contrived situation to challenge the above powerful character may well be a punishment, or it could be nothing at all. When in doubt, ask if everyone is having fun.

I hope that helps.

Gotcha. Shrug.

Summary: bad DMing is bad. Bad playing is bad. Don't be bad.


Have to be careful changing the rules mid game though. That's a dangerous game in my experience. Makes it feel like the world is set against you suddenly or you can trust things to stay the way they are written. Opinion of course, I'm sure everyone is different.


I tell players "I run a dark world, low level, low maigc items. I know you will be fighting zombies and wolves, and not beholders and rakshashas, so please adjust your expectations."
-If players know what to expect they don't feel 'punished.'


HarbinNick wrote:

I tell players "I run a dark world, low level, low maigc items. I know you will be fighting zombies and wolves, and not beholders and rakshashas, so please adjust your expectations."

-If players know what to expect they don't feel 'punished.'

Reminds me of the first time I played pathfinder. I was so phyched and ready to play and I made a witch with the intent of casting fire ball and having all sorts of fun building the character. Then I was told we'd never go past 3rd level after three weeks of playing. He was shocked I suddenly wanted to change characters, and decided I wasn't allowed to, and shocked again I didn't want to play anymore. I didn't feel punished at all, but I didn't want to play.

Edit: I should probably add he did take it out on me later.


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Roberta Yang wrote:
Some players don't appreciate being kicked in the face for wearing a shirt I don't like. But that doesn't mean it's wrong for me to kick them in the face for wearing a shirt I don't like; it's just a playstyle difference, and really, isn't it the player's fault for joining my game in the first place? Besides, punishing the player for wearing a shirt I don't like can act as a hint that I don't like their shirt, and if understanding that they were wrong and changing their shirt isn't their reaction to being kicked in the face then maybe they're just whiny crybabies who don't understand that the world doesn't revolve around them. And if I don't kick them in the face, how will they ever learn to wear shirts that I like? Really I'm trying to help them even if they don't appreciate that. Also I like kicking people in the face.

We missed you, Roberta.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
MrSin wrote:
Have to be careful changing the rules mid game though. That's a dangerous game in my experience.

Sure, I'm not advocating arbitrary change. It's got to be considered, discussed, and declared.

An interesting point: it's accepted that a DM can add accepted books to the campaign at any time. New monster manuals specifically are considered absolute fair-game. But a DM can also allow player materials. Subtraction shouldn't be beyond consideration either. Again, not without cause, but the precedent of modifying allowed sourcebooks is aged tradition.


i admit that i am a filthy munchkin.

but at least i am a munchkin that helps newbies out.

and understanding a portion of the munchkin way

i know that there is little that can outperform the human outside of a few niche builds.

and as a player acceptance advocate, i advocate the acceptance of many things that those claiming to be old grognards just don't wish to deal with. such as slightly exotic races, even hinting at exotic races that can still pass as human under the right conditions, or putting new spins on odd human cultures.

if one is too closed minded to see how a particular class or weapon works, i work together with the player and dungeon master to compromise on a concept that fits that combination, even if the dungeon master really doesn't like that concept. such as comparing a dwarven druid to a geomancer who speaks to the earth or comparing a Female Roc Riding Cavalier to something akin to the Pegasus Knights from fire emblem. or pointing out that Japan wasn't the only country with supernaturally gifted assassins that wielded curved knives and threw sharpened trowels at people.

Weekly William hates me for this, yet still tries to shoehorn the original concept into the class.

to get my "Chelexian Hellstalker" Accepted, there had to be a branch clan from the Minkai Empire seeking to expand.

but who is to say that Cheliax couldn't have an organization of assassins that dress in noble's attire, wield curved knives called "Bezekira Fangs" (Reskinned Wakazashi) and emulate the gifts of the hellcat, both in combat, and the supernatural gifts of stealth.


I had a game, years ago in 1e. My GM said "I run a dark world." I accepted that and moved on. In the course of that game my character was disowned from her family for being overly flirtatious (my character's prime motivator was family), I was publicly ridiculed by NPCs, lost an eye, had it replaced by a magical gem only to find out too late that the gem was in fact a link to the big bad so he could keep tabs on everyone.

I made it to the climax of the campaign. At said climax I had to make a choice to be a hero or sell out to the BBEG demon prince. I chose hero and was teleported away (no save) to float in the sky surrounded by wyverns while the rest of the party made their decisions. Predictably my party members chose evil and were promptly rewarded with massive power.

Now the final battle. I'd incapacitated one party member and killed my best friend. Now I went toe-to-toe w/the demon but was pulling off phenomenal rolls. I had him on the freaking ropes w/little damage to my person. Suddenly my artifact sword kicks into overdrive and goes nuclear; the only way to save the entire world from some kind of apocalypse event is my making a SINGLE save. I failed it and was catapulted through time.

In Samurai Jack-like fashion this future time was plagued by chaos for the demon had died but his portal to the Infernal was impossible to close for 1000 years. My power surge also wiped out the entire elven forest kingdom, turning a continent-spanning forest to ash and sand, creating a desert and slaying every last one of my kin.

Now, many have told me over the years, "He warned you dude; dark world." I'd accept that save for the fact that 1. he later told me he didn't agree w/some of the choices I made in game and 2. my fellow players were flying through the game with awesome magic items even BEFORE they turned darkside.

EVEN after all of that, I gave this GM another shot. Again; another dark world but this time he sits down w/me, works w/me to custom design a PC hybrid class combining Mage and Thief and we also create a bunch of spells based on walls, barriers and dismantling these objects. I thought "man, he's really changed. This is going to be awesome!"

The first second of the first scene of the FIRST SESSION, my butt not even warm in the chair yet, he turns to me and says "Mark; roll a save." I fail and unceremoniously my custom character is charmed, IN HIS SLEEP THROUGH A FREAKING DREAM, by a succubus. From there on in I was her unwitting pawn.

I stuck it out for a few more sessions, thinking I must've been high and hallucinated. I was controlled, stabbed to death, blown up by my own magic item and made to appear as the villain enough to my own party that they buried me alive. Many of these inconveniences heaped upon me despite the other players again gaining power at a decent clip but then miraculously they followed a pattern.

I would speak out against some course of action or otherwise "disrupt" the railroady nature of the game. As a consequence my character would get clipped. I took us through the woods when staying on the road was obviously a trap; as a result we were harried, all my gear lost, my character's survival skills found us water only to have that be the entry to a xvart lair: that's where I was blown up w/my own magic item. Oh, and also none of my custom spells did what they were supposed to OR the xvarts saved against them w/out fail.

Needless to say; I left the game.

After suffering this, shall we say, Late Unpleasantness I moved on to gaming w/other players. I also tried my damnedest NOT to punish players in my games. I slip up and get petty once in a while, but it's gotten far less frequent over the past decade.

Just recently I was tested. A player was disruptive, a spotlight hog; "eccentric" is a nice way of describing his builds, like the 1/2 ogre rogue that was the final straw. One night after a game as we were packing up the guy was complaining that he didn't get to do more. The other players said monopolizing my time was the only way to get anything of their own done. Tempers flared and we all said things we didn't like hearing out loud.

I chatted w/folks through the miracle of email. I CC'd everyone, keeping everything above board. We made our apologies but then I laid out my own concerns and addressed the player's behavior. He seemed amiable to working on it.

The next game session the tension was palpable. Unfortunately the 1/2 ogre again went off the reservation and it was like pulling teeth to keep the session going. When we finally wrapped I quietly said we should be done w/this game. The other players didn't enjoy the plot; the disruptive player loved the plot (all about him at that time) but HATED the constant need by his compatriots for more action scenes. An argument started but this time we were all a bit more prepared and we quelled it before it got out of hand.

I don't game w/that guy anymore. I still see him, I'm still his friend. But I don't want to go back to the fighting, so for now we avoid the table together.


Heymitch wrote:
Whale_Cancer wrote:
Also, what is meant precisely by punishing?
Roll a d20. That's how many minutes you have to keep the nipple clamps on...

Rawr. That's usally on every other tuesday though.


I sort of prefer the old first edition feel.

You know, that lethality, that you were in constant mortal danger around every corner and without a 10 foot pole you would be one of the bodies of adventurers that had gone before you than you are now stepping over....

With that being said, rolling up a character did only take about 12 minutes....

Steam rolling stuff isnt fun for me though either.

Game balance is important without making it feel like game balance, I dont want to feel "protected".... if you can't fail, then is there really any triumph?

But if you are constantly wearing a red shirt, and the galactic ooze or interstellar slime swallow you every other session, then there isn't really any story continuity either?

Ive never really felt a DM was trying to punish anyone, but I really dislike it when it feels like the DM has kid gloves on.


Pendagast wrote:

I sort of prefer the old first edition feel.

You know, that lethality, that you were in constant mortal danger around every corner and without a 10 foot pole you would be one of the bodies of adventurers that had gone before you than you are now stepping over....

With that being said, rolling up a character did only take about 12 minutes....

Steam rolling stuff isnt fun for me though either.

Game balance is important without making it feel like game balance, I dont want to feel "protected".... if you can't fail, then is there really any triumph?

But if you are constantly wearing a red shirt, and the galactic ooze or interstellar slime swallow you every other session, then there isn't really any story continuity either?

Ive never really felt a DM was trying to punish anyone, but I really dislike it when it feels like the DM has kid gloves on.

i like there to be some story continuity, but i don't like when PCs don't die fast enough, or die too fast.

my problem with Savage Worlds?

you can keep racking up wounds and injuries, but still not die once, no matter how many times you lose consciousness, due to how easily Vigor Scales compared to DCs.

when you have a target number of, and the smallest dice is a D4, and you take the higher of that or your wild die (a D6) and because of how easy it is to augment vigor, you are literally rolling 2D6 and taking the higher at the very least.

i don't know one Savage worlds PC that doesn't have at least 1d8 Vigor by Seasoned Tier.

and oh, fail a vigor check? spend a benny to reroll. you get 3 for free, and every PC gets another every time a joker is drawn, and jokers show up a lot.

don't forget about action cards, they can completely rewrite scenarios too.

it is impossible to die in savage worlds unless you are really unlucky.


Well the original assertion is false. Since I can think of several valid reasons to punish a player clearly ALL punishment isn't bad.

I guess the real question becomes "When is it just to punish a player and when is it just being petty?"

My answer to that would be when players are ruining the fun of others it then becomes time to step in as a GM and end that players abusive behavior. The punishment is then just and the only way for the bad player to avoid it is to quit the game, which also solves the problem.


Aranna wrote:
I guess the real question becomes "When is it just to punish a player and when is it just being petty?"

I guess it also depends on how you define punishment. I don't think I'd ever go out of my way to punish a player through his character when I could talk to him directly about it. I don't think that's punishment, nor do I think him having consequences in game for his actions are. The town guards are not a punishment, though they are sometimes a direct result of criminal behavior.


MrSin wrote:
Aranna wrote:
I guess the real question becomes "When is it just to punish a player and when is it just being petty?"
I guess it also depends on how you define punishment. I don't think I'd ever go out of my way to punish a player through his character when I could talk to him directly about it. I don't think that's punishment, nor do I think him having consequences in game for his actions are. The town guards are not a punishment, though they are sometimes a direct result of criminal behavior.

Town Guards are a reasonable direct result of criminal behavior

not level 105 super guards facing a 10th level party as would likely happen in World of Warcraft.

now, an especially notorious group of 12th level criminals might draw the attention of a 14th level elite captain and his 8th level squad. but not every settlement is going to have a 14th level fighter captain with an 8th level squad.

that 14th level captain is the Arthur/Beowulf of Guard Captains and should be respected as such by NPCs. even if the 12th level party slaughters him rather easily.


I guess this would be an example of punishing a player...maybe unfairly, maybe not. I had a guy create a half-elf druid...named Steve.

A half-elf druid. Named Steve. Steve. Ug.

I tried to patiently explain how Steve the Druid violated the campaign aesthetic. The player was adamant. Steve the half-elf druid.

Steve the druid died.


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This thread from a guy asking advice in another on how to PUNISH his players for fireballing a bunch of hostages(which he turned into illusion...but still wanted to punish them)...sigh.

Why do I some how think that as a GM RD is all about GM power because he is of course right...but as a player the GM almost has to be too incompentent to correctly asses what he does as a player?

Also RD as a Role Model...really? Gods, don't wonder why this hobby is heading down the tubes.

Dark Archive

The only way to properly punish players is with physical violence.


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I feel sorry for the people who live in small towns.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
John Kretzer wrote:

This thread from a guy asking advice in another on how to PUNISH his players for fireballing a bunch of hostages(which he turned into illusion...but still wanted to punish them)...sigh.

Why do I some how think that as a GM RD is all about GM power because he is of course right...but as a player the GM almost has to be too incompentent to correctly asses what he does as a player?

Also RD as a Role Model...really? Gods, don't wonder why this hobby is heading down the tubes.

I'm nothing if not all over the place, hence the name. ;P

Also, did I use the word "punish" in the thread you mentioned? The PCs basically murdered a dozen kidnapped children that they were specifically hired to rescue. The campaign pretty much died with them.


Ravingdork wrote:
John Kretzer wrote:

This thread from a guy asking advice in another on how to PUNISH his players for fireballing a bunch of hostages(which he turned into illusion...but still wanted to punish them)...sigh.

Why do I some how think that as a GM RD is all about GM power because he is of course right...but as a player the GM almost has to be too incompentent to correctly asses what he does as a player?

Also RD as a Role Model...really? Gods, don't wonder why this hobby is heading down the tubes.

I'm nothing if not all over the place, hence the name. ;P

Also, did I use the word "punish" in the thread you mentioned? The PCs basically murdered a dozen kidnapped children that they were specifically hired to rescue. The campaign pretty much died with them.

See that is the problem here with this topic. Is what some players will cry 'Punishing me' for other will just nod and say 'consequences'.

For instance if a Rogue PC is going about picking pockets and gets caught and faces criminal charages there are some players out there that will cry foul. That you are punishing them because they are playing their characters. Others (the more reasonable people in my opinion) will be well that is a possibile consequence of my actions.

Or in the case of the fireballing of hostages...I am pretty sure if you leveled consequences( which is debateable if you should have) on your players they cried about punishing them...maybe not to you...

It is all a matter of perception...which is why you (and really everyone who comes here seeking advice) should talk to your players and weigh their feeling on this subject more than what we, as a commubity, say. In the end your game is about what you and your players find fun.

I mean did you even take the time to follow my advice on that thread? You know talk to your players? Get why they just fireballed the hostages? Did you explain how in your game you want to have in game asctions have in game consequences? Or was I just wasting my breath( well energy typing that post)?

There are serveral rules I follow as a GM about the Action haveing consequences that might be helpful here...to get away from the perception of punishment.

Rule 1: If there is no wat for anybody to know something happened with sane means...than no one will know. Meaning if a PC say commited a murder...and no one has a way to find out he did it...guess what the NPCs won't somehow magicaly know that the PC(s) killed this guy.

Rule 2: Positive Consequences also happen...meaning if you help out the poor in a city...or show mercy to a defeated enemy...etc chances are that will help you out later. This is very important...because most of the accusation of punishments comes from players with GMs who seem to only have negative consequences happen.

Rule 3: Be fair. I think that is self explainatory. I hope atleast.


bigkilla wrote:
The only way to properly punish players is with physical violence.

I have to agree...the schools have gone down hill since they took away corporal punishment. ;)


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Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:
MrSin wrote:
Aranna wrote:
I guess the real question becomes "When is it just to punish a player and when is it just being petty?"
I guess it also depends on how you define punishment. I don't think I'd ever go out of my way to punish a player through his character when I could talk to him directly about it. I don't think that's punishment, nor do I think him having consequences in game for his actions are. The town guards are not a punishment, though they are sometimes a direct result of criminal behavior.

Town Guards are a reasonable direct result of criminal behavior

not level 105 super guards facing a 10th level party as would likely happen in World of Warcraft.

now, an especially notorious group of 12th level criminals might draw the attention of a 14th level elite captain and his 8th level squad. but not every settlement is going to have a 14th level fighter captain with an 8th level squad.

that 14th level captain is the Arthur/Beowulf of Guard Captains and should be respected as such by NPCs. even if the 12th level party slaughters him rather easily.

this is a point of certain interest.

Not EVERY town should have a 14th level captain with an 8th level guard contingent.

These men would be particularly expensive and there should be a very good background story and developed reason for them to be there.

If a party of adventurers run amok in no-wheres-ville north kakalacky, they should pretty much be able to get away with their behavior, but as they do more and more their reputation will grow and eventually, draw the attention of some real competition.

If they tried to pain the town red in New York City (or its equivalent) expect some retired war veteran and his loyal buddies to be deputized after the slaughter of several local lawn enforcement 'regulars'....If the party doesn't flee town...they will meet up with the 'deputized captain' and his "crew"

Bonnie and Clyde, the James Gang, etc etc.... got away with all sorts of behavior... for a time, until the right team of "rare" individuals was assembled to contest them.

In game terms that means not very many NPCs should be available to regularly out power the PCs and their chosen actions.... because, quite truthfully, if there was a regular supply of these fellows (or gals) there wouldnt be any adventure and riches for the PCs..... that stuff would have already been trampled, soundly.

That's pretty much (in my mind) what knights errant and inquisitors are for.

if the partys exploits eventually annoy someone with enough money or influence, someone will be dispatched to handle it.

In a larger community, that person could live next door to the bar fight the party just started.... In a tiny place it's UNLIKELY (but possible) that a retired 10th level barbarian lives in the community, but this situation shouldnt be a dime a dozen like the DM has an auto spawn point for whatever he desires that follows the party around.

Case in point.... if a blather on facebook about how I dont like Obama Care and we should impeach the president, nothing is going to happen.... If I get stupid and send the white house a letter full of talcum power? I should expect a timely visit from some well trained, well armed justice department fellows to come put me face down on my carpet with their knee in my back....

IT all depends on who you annoy and how far you take it.

The DM is a non existent person... and his annoyance cant be a factor on what the fictitious people he controls would actually do.

If the DM sets up an entire "save the kingdom from the dragon lord" story line, and the PCs chose to rob peasants in the jungle kingdom far from the south,,,then the events of whatever was planned with the dragon lord will still take place, as the jungle kingdoms inherit new bandit lords (the PCs).....

It's just a game, roll with it.... quite literally


I saw the title of this thread and knew this would be raving dork versus ciretose :P

Liberty's Edge

Thomas Long 175 wrote:

I saw the title of this thread and knew this would be raving dork versus ciretose :P

Actually Ciretose wrote one post only and did not quote RD at all.

And RD did not quote Ciretose.

You might want to read the whole thread :-))

Liberty's Edge

Ravingdork wrote:
BigDTBone wrote:
Like it or not, you are a public figure around here. New players (and GM's) on the boards will look to you as a role model especially given the number of posts you make in the rules and advice subforums.
I will keep that in mind.

Like Charles Barkley or Michael Jackson :)

Liberty's Edge

The black raven wrote:
Thomas Long 175 wrote:

I saw the title of this thread and knew this would be raving dork versus ciretose :P

Actually Ciretose wrote one post only and did not quote RD at all.

And RD did not quote Ciretose.

You might want to read the whole thread :-))

I wrote a few posts actually, but none of them quoted RD, except the last one in, complete jest.

I generally like RD.

Liberty's Edge

MrSin wrote:
Aranna wrote:
I guess the real question becomes "When is it just to punish a player and when is it just being petty?"
I guess it also depends on how you define punishment. I don't think I'd ever go out of my way to punish a player through his character when I could talk to him directly about it. I don't think that's punishment, nor do I think him having consequences in game for his actions are. The town guards are not a punishment, though they are sometimes a direct result of criminal behavior.

And having something happen that challenges a player isn't punishment. It's challenging a player.

Some people think an ambush is "punishment".

It isn't.


If a player's being naughty in a game of mine, does that give me the right to punish them? And by "punish" them I mean judge their actions, find them not up to the standards I and my group have agreed on or otherwise hindering our fun, and then simply do something naughty to the character because of my judgment.

Would I? No, or at least I'd very much TRY not to. I'm human after all and I sometimes get petty or spiteful.

No, I try to talk to the guy. First I'd try IN character:

An NPC pulls the disruptive character aside. "Dude, you're being an ass. She's a princess, just lost her mom, and in a few days she'll be QUEEN! I don't think NOW is the best time to sneak into her bedroom and hit on her."

Next I'd try a quick sidebar:

Look Larry; I know I said I run an "open world" but it's really distracting to have you gank my game so you can nail the princess. Its a bad idea, so stop it please. I get it that its "in your character's nature" but its in MY nature to keep the game rolling. Nailing the princess can EASILY be a play by post, so lets get on with it shall we?

Finally, I'd address it to the group after the game:

By the looks on your faces and the words hurled around the table, its clear that some of you didn't agree w/others' actions tonight. We all have to be mindful that this is a game for everyone, not just us. That goes for me too. If you're not having fun, let me know and I'll try to incorporate what YOU think is fun into the game. But by the same token, if your fun comes at the expense of everyone else's at the table, then it becomes a disruption that I don't want in the game. If disruptions like this persist, we'll have to do something to remove them. This might end up with a player sitting out for a scene or whatever, or it might be as drastic as someone getting removed from the game altogether. Bottom line: let's ALL have fun together.

After ALL of that, if the disruptive player DOESN'T toe the line, then its time to enforce the rules.

Now, RD also asserts in his rant that he doesn't like punishments for a "perceived slight." This is a gray area. A lot of GMs, myself included get kind of a big head running a game. They might see a disruption where there really is none. If you're like me and fall back on lazy tropes or railroads once in a while because, lets face it; sometimes with family, work and school you don't have the time to crush it in the creativity department, then you get really cheesed off when some jackass says "I know our mission is to head to the dungeon to get the McGuffin, but what if we host a drinking contest instead?"

My advice here (and again, I'm not perfect so I don't pull this off every time but I try) is to swallow your pride and look around the table. Is everyone smiling, laughing and riffing off the drinking contest thing? Then THAT'S where the players want to take the game right now. So what if they're not interested in my dungeon; I'm a big boy, I've dated; I understand rejection.

Being a GM has never been about being right, knowing all the rules or being in control. Its about being a good host. That's why a collection of PCs is called a "party." Now granted, you have to balance hosting duties with controlling an entire world around the players, throwing mind-bending amounts of conflict their way and being adept at the mechanics and pacing of the game to the point where your mechanizations appear seamless, but in the end you're STILL just the host of a party your players have been invited to.

So if someone comes to your party in attire you don't approve of, do you throw a drink in their face? Vice versa, do you simply ignore the guy at your party who gets hammered and hits on your wife?

Play with your friends. Have fun with the games. Don't punish, impugn, or otherwise demand any special treatment because you're running things. Just enjoy the company you have the privilege to have assembled.

But there's the rub isn't it? So many GMs, myself included up until a few years ago, are convinced that it's the PLAYERS who have the PRIVILEGE of hanging out and running through MY game. If you have even a little of this feeling or some version of it when the players hit your table ask yourself: what makes you any more right at this than the guy hijacking your awesome game for his own glory?

Liberty's Edge

Two separate issues:

If players do something in game that leads to bad outcomes...that is the game. Aside from a friendly "Are you sure you want to do that" here and there, it isn't my job to tell players how to play, only to honestly and fairly adjudicate what would happen if the characters act as they act.

If you tell the King to shove it up his arse, I'm not punishing you for having negative effects come from that action. I'm running the game.

On the other hand, if you are being an ass out of game, or doing something out of game that disrupts the table, that is an out of game consequence.

Often, not being welcomed back.

If in game Larry wants to try to take advantage of the princess, he can "try" and depending on the princess and the setting, outcomes occur.

Actions have consequences.


Shadowborn wrote:
Some of them tough it out and make new characters. The whiny ones leave.

All you are doing is discouraging players from "investing" in their characters, and encouraging roll-playing (the very thing this board hates the most).

Why bother coming up with a compelling story when the DM is just an ass-hat, itching to kill characters?

Liberty's Edge

Because character death is never part of a compelling story, said no fan of Game of Thrones or pretty much any decent fantasy fiction, ever.

Liberty's Edge

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Antimony wrote:
This thread can only end in tragedy.

I predict it will end with a period.

I believe in punctuation!


Fake Healer wrote:
That's why I like rolls in the open.....helps keep it all honest and forthright.

Plus 1; the only reason a DM rolls in secret is to cheat.

Liberty's Edge

Cpt.Caine wrote:
Fake Healer wrote:
That's why I like rolls in the open.....helps keep it all honest and forthright.

Plus 1; the only reason a DM rolls in secret is to cheat.

Or to prevent players from knowing if they made the stealth or perception checks...or any other number of reasons, generally in the players favor.

You do realize if the GM kills everyone they don't get to play anymore either, right? The GM isn't rooting against the party.


Cpt.Caine wrote:
Plus 1; the only reason a DM rolls in secret is to cheat.

Negative on that, Houston.

I roll my attacks and saves in secret to disallow the players to reverse-engineer their opponents bonuses.
I roll characters' Perception and Sense Motive checks behind my screen so they don't know whether they rolled poorly... or there really is no danger present.

Please refrain from calling that 'cheating'. Thank you very much.

I do admit to fudging the dice rolls occasionally; if the die result would mean thigs like 'Okay, they won't get the vital clue; scrap that part of the story you planned', I will merrily ignore the roll and carry on with the game.

ciretose wrote:
I predict it will end with a period. I believe in punctuation!

Huh? Then, why are you doing your very best to end it with an exclamation mark? *scnr*


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I cannot see any of the thumbnail examples I noted above as a challenge, they (and more) were all divergences from the rules or how we were house or table ruling at the time. The most annoying was when the chair would change an interpretation mid-fight to a more correct version, but one that hurt/inconvenienced a player in some way. I would find myself agreeing with the new way while rankled at the sneaky way he stuck it in. He actually got upset that the Rogues maxed out their 'thiefy' skills, bought MW tools, etc. Same went for a Ranger maxing her 'perception' and Survival skills.

That said, a proper challenge was a bunch of low end/high AC iron statues with crappy attack and damage, ultimately solved by my 'tumbling' amongst them and fighting Defensively in order to give the Barbarian a +2 that jumped him from a 19+ to a 17+ to hit. Yeah, a L5, 18 str Barbarian needed a 17+ to hit. But that I saw as a challenge, as the statues had 13 HP each, ie: one hit for the Barbarian. Three of the players had the AC of the statues by second round of combat, but the so-called-'dm' claimed that was 'metagaming', just as he did when I realized their pathetic +4 to hit was not going to hit me fighting defensively in their midst, even flanked to heck and back. None of us evil 'metagamers' got any exp from that fight.

For clarification, everybody needed 20s to hit the other side, leaving out the squishies like the Wizard. Even flanking, the statues needed 20s to hit me in their midst.


ciretose wrote:
Because character death is never part of a compelling story, said no fan of Game of Thrones or pretty much any decent fantasy fiction, ever.

Where "decent fantasy fiction" is defined as "fantasy fiction where protagonists die in the middle of the story".

If you leave out cases where the death is specifically a part of the character's story arc - Boromir falls to the temptation of the Ring, then redeems himself by dying trying to save the halflings - it's really uncommon in fantasy fiction. Isn't that part of what makes Game of Thrones appealing? That it's different? That death is common and strikes down imnportant characters seemingly at random and without thematic/dramatic purpose?

It's rare in fiction, not just fantasy, to have a major character, one with sub-plots and character development in progress, just suddenly get killed off without resolving the sub-plots and character arc. Yet that tends to be the kind of death people argue for in RPGs. Death by dumb luck or bad tactics in any old fight.

Obviously, when I say "death" here, I'm only referring to permanent death. If the character comes back, that's not death in a meaningful sense. The character's story continues.


Ravingdork wrote:

This is a game where people come together to have fun, not a boot camp or boarding school where you are the headmaster. You've absolutely no right to punish anyone else for wanting to have fun in a way dissimilar from your own (anymore than they have a right to punish you for bringing the wrong kind of chip dip).

Get over yourself and grow up. Do something constructive, like talking to your players about the real problem. Don't place blame. Smile and communicate. This game is about having fun, and being punished isn't conducive towards having a good time.

I know some people say there's no way to "roleplay wrong," but that's not really true. If you punish your players AT ALL, EVER, for a perceived slight, THEN YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

How much arrogance must one have to think they have the right? 95% of the problems I see on this board can be overcome by acting like adults and communicating with one another. The other 5% of the problems are also easily resolved, by not inviting the problem back to future games. Punishing people only exacerbates the problem widens the already expansive social chasm between GM and player--reducing any chances that the actual problem will ever truly be resolved.

So stop acting like you're God, or the King at the table, or whatever else you envision yourself as, and start acting like the awesome GM they all hoped you'd be.

For the love of God, read the GameMastery Guide and take its advice to heart, audit the player's characters regularly, and talk to your players about any perceived problems you may be having. Trust me

/explosive Fourth of July rant

I agree.

However, if their characters fall to their deaths in a pit of spikes, gg.

Latest one I heard, halberd blades, for the d10. Ouch.


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thejeff wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Because character death is never part of a compelling story, said no fan of Game of Thrones or pretty much any decent fantasy fiction, ever.

Where "decent fantasy fiction" is defined as "fantasy fiction where protagonists die in the middle of the story".

If you leave out cases where the death is specifically a part of the character's story arc - Boromir falls to the temptation of the Ring, then redeems himself by dying trying to save the halflings - it's really uncommon in fantasy fiction. Isn't that part of what makes Game of Thrones appealing? That it's different? That death is common and strikes down imnportant characters seemingly at random and without thematic/dramatic purpose?

It's rare in fiction, not just fantasy, to have a major character, one with sub-plots and character development in progress, just suddenly get killed off without resolving the sub-plots and character arc. Yet that tends to be the kind of death people argue for in RPGs. Death by dumb luck or bad tactics in any old fight.

Obviously, when I say "death" here, I'm only referring to permanent death. If the character comes back, that's not death in a meaningful sense. The character's story continues.

Remember, theJeff, that when playing a role playing game, that there is not story until after it happens to the players. Players cannot be killed mid-arch, because until the arc is finished, it doesn't exist. Fiction has the luxury of the author being able to plan out plot-arcs, character-arcs, foreshadowing, et. al. because the author has 100% narrative control. This is a narrative control that the GM does not have in an RPG. If one of the players began as a petty thief but, after meeting with persuasive cleric, is trying to reform, there is no plot armor that keeps the thief safe from dying randomly from a lucky monster critical hit, or a failed trap roll.


Midnight_Angel wrote:


Negative on that, Houston.

I roll my attacks and saves in secret to disallow the players to reverse-engineer their opponents bonuses.
I roll characters' Perception and Sense Motive checks behind my screen so they don't know whether they rolled poorly... or there really is no danger present.

Please refrain from calling that 'cheating'. Thank you very much.

I do admit to fudging the dice rolls occasionally; if the die result would mean thigs like 'Okay, they won't get the vital clue; scrap that part of the story you planned', I will merrily ignore the roll and carry on with the game.

At least you admit to cheating; more than most DMs that roll secretly.


John Kerpan wrote:
thejeff wrote:
ciretose wrote:
Because character death is never part of a compelling story, said no fan of Game of Thrones or pretty much any decent fantasy fiction, ever.

Where "decent fantasy fiction" is defined as "fantasy fiction where protagonists die in the middle of the story".

If you leave out cases where the death is specifically a part of the character's story arc - Boromir falls to the temptation of the Ring, then redeems himself by dying trying to save the halflings - it's really uncommon in fantasy fiction. Isn't that part of what makes Game of Thrones appealing? That it's different? That death is common and strikes down imnportant characters seemingly at random and without thematic/dramatic purpose?

It's rare in fiction, not just fantasy, to have a major character, one with sub-plots and character development in progress, just suddenly get killed off without resolving the sub-plots and character arc. Yet that tends to be the kind of death people argue for in RPGs. Death by dumb luck or bad tactics in any old fight.

Obviously, when I say "death" here, I'm only referring to permanent death. If the character comes back, that's not death in a meaningful sense. The character's story continues.

Remember, theJeff, that when playing a role playing game, that there is not story until after it happens to the players. Players cannot be killed mid-arch, because until the arc is finished, it doesn't exist. Fiction has the luxury of the author being able to plan out plot-arcs, character-arcs, foreshadowing, et. al. because the author has 100% narrative control. This is a narrative control that the GM does not have in an RPG. If one of the players began as a petty thief but, after meeting with persuasive cleric, is trying to reform, there is no plot armor that keeps the thief safe from dying randomly from a lucky monster critical hit, or a failed trap roll.

That's a matter of playstyle. Of course there can be, if the GM and players want it. It doesn't even usually require outright fudging of rolls.

The GM lacks the same level of control, but between the GM and the players there is still plenty of control.
If the group wants to have plot arcs, character arcs, etc. they can do so. If they want to avoid the dissonance and frustration of cutting such arcs short, they can do so.
Or, if they're less interested in the narrative and more in the game and the challenge, they can accept that some will be cut short.


ciretose wrote:
Cpt.Caine wrote:
Fake Healer wrote:
That's why I like rolls in the open.....helps keep it all honest and forthright.

Plus 1; the only reason a DM rolls in secret is to cheat.

Or to prevent players from knowing if they made the stealth or perception checks...or any other number of reasons, generally in the players favor.

You do realize if the GM kills everyone they don't get to play anymore either, right? The GM isn't rooting against the party.

Those are excuses not valid reasons. You can always roll in such a way that one other player witnesses the roll.

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