How much should a GM "coddle" the players?


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I'm a firm believer that pcs should be offered nearly any amount of rope they would like with which to hang themselves. Do your research (gather information, intelligence networks where rogues excel and fighters do well, magical intelligence via spell), and you can find lots of things that you can attempt or estimate the difficulty of the ideas you came up with. Then consult with your party whether they think the estimated reward is worth the estimated risk. I don't tune encounters to PCs normally, unless I'm running a miniseries where I'm going more narrativist/gamist than simulationist. That ogre lair exists whether you choose to go there or not, and it has some number of ogres with a mean of X and a standard deviation of Y no matter what level you might happen to be. What is incumbent on me as the GM is to make the information available within reasonable due diligence for the pcs to decide what they want to do, what jobs they want to accept, etc.
And just because an NPC asked you to do something does NOT mean you can handle it, or easily handle it. Yeah they're likely to consider your reputation in deciding who to ask, but those peasants paying onerous tribute to the dragon every year might have overestimated you or underestimated their oppressor.


I've mentioned this on another thread I believe, but for our games I try not to be overly brutal nor do I handhold the players. Instead, if things are getting hectic and it seems the players are at a loss or edging towards death, I'll pause the action and take a bio break, let everyone get a snack and a drink and reset for the moment.

It gives them a chance to ask any questions that their character might know; none of them are seasoned professional adventurers (or Navy SEALS or space marines or whatever game we are playing.) They may not be seeing the room correctly or my description was lacking. They may not be aware of some subtle clue that their character would know but the player isn't aware of.

Usually this works very well for everyone involved. I combine that with the occasional "Is that what you are going to do?" when someone does something that seems, well, stupid (insulting the King/Don/Oyabun/dragon/whatever, performing a super action movie/wire-fu move with substandard skills/stats, and so on.)

After we've taken our break and gotten reset, they are on their own and they know this. We discuss at the beginning of the campaign and there are reminders later on that the choices you make are yours -- the world is a horribly dangerous place and you've chosen a dangerous line of work.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
Mark Hoover wrote:

One source I read said to make the "standard" fight APL -1 or APL -2. This way PCs manage resources better and are more impressed with beating tougher challenges. I have a game coming up this weekend; I'm going to be employing this methodology.

I probably run a pretty puffball game compared to most in this thread. A couple fights here and there are hard, dark and gritty. Most however are resolved in a couple rounds and don't use up that much in PC resources. I have noticed though that my players generally rest, regardless of remaining spells/powers once the healing runs out. I'm hoping that by lowering the baseline challenges just a bit we have more than 2-4 fights a night.

That's pretty much me. I like to throw them fodder that doesn't take much effort to beat. Makes them feel good and not too threatening.

However, they will run into harder stuff once in awhile and appreciate the difference. When they hit something and it hits back, things get interesting. When they actually start taking more damage, they realize this is a serious fight.

If they were foolish, they burned a lot of resources in the first fight on the easy guys. Things that would help them in the tough fight. If not, this is when they pull those out to win the day.

It's all about a balance. Cakewalks make you bored and sloppy. Slogs drain and frustrate you. Instant death upsets you. Never dying irritates you. But if the dial turns up in down with irregular regularity, you appreciate those differences more.


Some would probably describe me as coddling but I don't see it that way. My take on it is that you'll never die by the dice. If you bite off more than you can chew or other stupidity, though, I'm not going to try to save you. (For example, the guy who snapshot a 1E fireball into the darkness in a dungeon of 5' corridors. It could have TPKed, it was pure luck that the blast burned out right in front of the party.) I will put in encounters you're expected to run from but I'll arrange it so you can run.

To a large degree I've done this by nerfing death a bit--I distinguish between the body's inability to support life (a physical thing) and the departure of the soul. The latter doesn't happen instantly (and no mortal has magic that can change this. Things like slay living simply leave the body unable to support life, they don't drive off the soul) and prompt action can save them.


Loren Pechtel wrote:
Some would probably describe me as coddling but I don't see it that way. My take on it is that you'll never die by the dice. If you bite off more than you can chew or other stupidity, though, I'm not going to try to save you.

This is kind of how things worked on the Neverwinter Nights server I play/played on. Character permadeath never happened due to random die rolls, only poor choices or a player deciding to retire the character.


The most challenging encounters don't involve combat at all. Piling on more damage doesn't make a GM 'hardball.'


Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Interesting. What you describe here sounds more like how I view my gaming than what I understood mpl to be saying.

Well, I might be completely misinterpreting what mpl described, so I'm not sure how similar it is in the end.

Quote:
But let's pursue that. Let's say that you have laid out an area of your world and decide that there is a family of ogres the party is likely to encounter at some later date in the campaign. But as you play the campaign you realize that the party has been optimized more than you had originally expected and they are just waltzing through your prepared content. Would you then go back and add another ogre to the ogre party, or add some minions or mooks to the ogre encounter so that when the party gets there, it's not a walk in the park? Or do you just write the ogre encounter off as an already created encounter and therefore it's just what it is?

If it's just something I've planned for 'maybe some time later in the campaign' and the PCs hadn't really interacted with it yet, then I'd change it. Once it's definitively planned i.e. 'this session they'll meet the ogres' or the PCs have started out on that adventure and begun interacting with all the clues and environment leading up to the ogres then I wouldn't change it.

This does sometimes mean that I've written off a few encounters and it's resulted in the occasional session with some boring lackluster combat. However it helps me keep things consistent and fair. If I change things too much on the fly, I might lose track of what I've already described or hinted at with tracking rolls, etc. Mentally it's easier for me to keep track of things if I 'lock them in' at a certain point and consider them unchangeable.

Quote:
If you DO adjust the encounter at that point, do you see that adjustment as being qualitatively different from adjusting the encounter as the encounter itself is engaged?

I think so. I'm not really sure of my reasons but it just doesn't feel right at all for me to change the encounter once it's engaged. I don't have a good argument for this and I wouldn't expect anyone else to change how they game. It just doesn't feel right for me.


Calybos1 wrote:

The most challenging encounters don't involve combat at all. Piling on more damage doesn't make a GM 'hardball.'

You seem to be the only one claiming it does, just so that you can turn around and say it doesn't. Conflicted?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

You want a challenging module, try the PFS scenario The Stolen Heir.


The 1e Tomb of Horrors -- look, Ma, no monsters!

Liberty's Edge

An example: the giants were overwhelming the party...one was about to hit (the Druid, iirc ) a PC for enough to finish him...and it would go badly south from there. The chief giant smacked the other one hard..."that MY kill!"...it was just enough to stop a tpk, as the two bristled at each other...the third fell, and the fight ensued, with the near dead PC now healed enough to function.


Mark Hoover wrote:
Players shouldn't be penalized for this. Again, this may be seen as coddling but there's no reason to expect full tactical genius from a guy who's just coming off his second job and cramming game time in before a marathon study session for midterms.

And some terrific roleplayers just don't have any tactical sense at all!

I probably coddle players in that I don't let dice dictate the story. If the players have a bad day rolling dice, they may get beat up a bit, but never killed, same with my dice rolling. I won't kill a PC, just because I happened to crit twice in the same round..
I also try to adjust my monsters tactics to replicate the tactical ability of my players, not the tactical sense of the PC's.

On fact I have offered PC's tactical advice based on what the PC should know vs what the player knows.

"You know, you have a very bad feeling about charging headfirst into the middle of that group of Wights and realize setting up a choke-point to keep them off the squishies behind you may be a sound tactical move"


I'm not afraid to kill my PCs but I am pretty generous about finding ways to bring them back. Friendly local druid hands out reincarnates in exchange for favors. Local temple raises the dead in exchange for a quest. Local influential guy pays for your resurrection in exchange for your loyalty. Things like that. Almost always something available like that in my games, if the players know where to look.


mkenner wrote:


This does sometimes mean that I've written off a few encounters and it's resulted in the occasional session with some boring lackluster combat. However it helps me keep things consistent and fair. If I change things too much on the fly, I might lose track of what I've already described or hinted at with tracking rolls, etc. Mentally it's easier for me to keep track of things if I 'lock them in' at a certain point and consider them unchangeable.

As a player I could care less about being consistent or fair in this regard, I care about having fun. That a GM misjudged the Parties abilities and it ended up as a TPK (no fun - most of the time) or as a cake walk, may be fair, may be very consistent.

But this is a game and the real question should be is it fun?

I ave played with some very dynamic GM's that would roll random encounters and kill 1st lvl PC's off with a vampire encounter because it was unrealistic to not use the same random encounters for 1st lvl PC as for 20th lvl pc's.

Fair, well yea.. Consistent.. again yea.. fun... not for long.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I've seen a couple of threads lately where the issue of GM agency in encounters has come up. Some people have made it a point of pride to say they "don't coddle the players" while others have made it an equal point of pride to say that they are player advocates and want the players to generally be in a position to win encounters and be heroic.

GM fiat is written into the rules so the ability of a GM to "fudge" an encounter is clearly well within the game's scope. But it may or may not be in an individual group's social contract.

I am wondering how GMs in general address this issue with their players...

My vision of the ideal encounter is one where the players all get knocked down by a good chunk of hitpoints and some get so low they seriously start worrying, but they win in the end. A victory that you have to work for is a victory that you can savor and a victory that you feel you've earned. I think that is what players have come to expect in my games.

Unfortunately I find it hard to achieve this fine balance, tending to underpower or overpower the bad guys. Fortunately, the players don't know precisely how many hitpoints the bad guys have, or what spells they have and so forth. So if it looks like the players are definitely being overpowered because of a mistake on my part with no reasonable hope of at least escaping, I will shave some hp off of the NPCs and let them live. If I wind up underpowering myself, I usually just let the players have an easy one that time.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
ciretose wrote:

When Steven Segal died at the beginning of that one movie, the theater stood up and gave a standing ovation.

True story.

When you take a 4 player game, not everyone is "the" hero still standing at the end. Sometimes you are Boromir, Eddard, Achilles...

Anyone else notice that two of those examples were Sean Bean?

Who do we have in the party? A batman wizard, a machine-gun-longbow archer, an untouchable snake crane monk . . . and Sean Bean.


I seem to be somewhat in the middle of the extremes being presented on this thread. Which isn't surprising since I frequently find myself in the middle on many issues, game or non-game related.

I try to keep in mind one overriding thought as I GM, and that thought is "I want my players to get a chance to feel freaking awesome tonight."

Really, that's the main goal. There are a lot of secondary goals, like verisimilitude, in game consistency, proper rules adjudication, good story telling...

But in the end I believe that the reason my players are even playing the game is so they can feel awesome at least once each session.

The trick is to make my players feel awesome without overtly creating contrived scenarios that tend to make them feel like the awesome is not coming from them. That's a hard row to hoe. If you make things too easy, the awesome doesn't feel genuine. If you make things too hard, or too frequent, the awesome can feel more like stress and lead to mental fatigue.

While I can't claim to be successful in my pursuit of providing opportunities for awesomeness, I do know that a TPK of the party because I made an error in my encounter design is the opposite of awesome.


As a player, I hate in when I know that "the fix is in." So as a DM, I don't fudge, unless I think that I've made a mistake. The players are free to bite off more than they can chew, and if they are losing they had better have a way out. If they end up winning a tough battle, good for them! They'll get lots of XP and they may get a rich treasure - plus the satisfaction of knowing that they won fair and square.


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Corathon wrote:
As a player, I hate in when I know that "the fix is in." So as a DM, I don't fudge, unless I think that I've made a mistake. The players are free to bite off more than they can chew, and if they are losing they had better have a way out. If they end up winning a tough battle, good for them! They'll get lots of XP and they may get a rich treasure - plus the satisfaction of knowing that they won fair and square.

Corathon, but they didn't win "fair and square". They won a carefully crafted battle designed entirely to suit them according to their abilities and equipment.

The "won fair and square" thing is an illusion from start to finish. Thinking that the illusion is superior because you don't fudge during the encounter is just another illusion. The "fix" was in when the encounter was created.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

I've seen a couple of threads lately where the issue of GM agency in encounters has come up. Some people have made it a point of pride to say they "don't coddle the players" while others have made it an equal point of pride to say that they are player advocates and want the players to generally be in a position to win encounters and be heroic.

GM fiat is written into the rules so the ability of a GM to "fudge" an encounter is clearly well within the game's scope. But it may or may not be in an individual group's social contract.

I am wondering how GMs in general address this issue with their players. Do you have a specific social contract in place? By which I mean have you officially stated, in your capacity as a GM, at the gaming table (or through email) that you do or do not fudge encounters? If you have made such a statement, to you truly stick to your guns, or do you sometimes fudge anyway?

And what do you consider "coddling" or "fudging" anyway? If you carefully tailor an encounter to match the party's power level, is that an example of coddling the players? After all there's usually no compelling story reason that a group of ogres be 3 ogres instead of 6. But 6 would wipe out the party, while 3 would be a good challenge. So by building a 3 ogre encounter are you already "coddling" the party, even before the encounter begins?

If you do tailor encounters to match the party's power level, and it ends up that you misjudged and the encounter is obviously careening towards a TPK, do you consider that to be a player problem and continue to play your NPCs or monsters rigorously according to their abilities, or do you consider the situation to be a GM mistake that now needs to be corrected by the GM by fudging some rolls or making some deliberately poor tactical choices?


I've been DMing/GMing for almost 30 years and I have always made it known to my players that "the DM/GM has the right to change any die roll for continuity of the game". That being said, I do not coddle my players. You don't the nickname Stevil by coddling.


The best time a player can have is being at the brink of death and then overcome. Who wants a John Milktoast campaign anyway.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Corathon, but they didn't win "fair and square". They won a carefully crafted battle designed entirely to suit them according to their abilities and equipment.

Which is why 'winning' or 'beating' the game is meaningless. The GM lets you win every time. He could say 'rocks fall, you die' at any time. It doesn't even have to be that blatant, he could just drop a CR-inappropriate encounter on your characters and watch them drop.

The only way to win is to have fun, and that has more to do with how you use the rules rather than what those rules actually are.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Adamantine Dragon wrote:
Corathon, but they didn't win "fair and square". They won a carefully crafted battle designed entirely to suit them according to their abilities and equipment.

Which is why 'winning' or 'beating' the game is meaningless. The GM lets you win every time. He could say 'rocks fall, you die' at any time. It doesn't even have to be that blatant, he could just drop a CR-inappropriate encounter on your characters and watch them drop.

The only way to win is to have fun, and that has more to do with how you use the rules rather than what those rules actually are.

I agree. The entertainment is victory enough.


Corathon wrote:
As a player, I hate in when I know that "the fix is in." So as a DM, I don't fudge, unless I think that I've made a mistake.

This approach interests me, since it's very similar to my position for several years. However, I've recently begun to consider that running a game I want to play is probably not a good measuring stick.

As a player I like rolls in the open, no fudging and reasonably common violation of 'level appropriateness' (ie lots of running away, evading and negotiating). I fully expect PCs to die pretty regularly and TPKs to happen from time to time. However there's at least one guy at our table who doesnt like PCs dying at all. His view is very much that failure should nearly always result in a story-based setback, rather than death. He likes games where TPKs are extremely rare (and nearly always thinks they should have been handled differently). On balance, I think it's better for me to fudge rolls and amend encounters on the fly when I run the game and for him to play a more hardcore, 'let the dice fall where they may' style when he's the DM. Unfortunately, that isnt proving as easy to implement as one would like.


Nice topic AD.

I personally don't begrudge a GM who occasionally modifies hit points and such on the fly as long as we never know. It is not my practice as a GM but each GM has his or her own way and are varied in levels of skill. As long as they can spin a good tale I'm ok but please keep fudging to yourself.

But I can't stand it when GM's alters dice rolls! Ugh, drives me bonkers. And having sat next to a GM that did it I could see he was annoying to say the least.

I feel like the dice is an equal part storyteller. Sometimes the story they tell is odd.

I think that scene in Big Trouble in Little China when the good guys are all buffed up and ready to take on the bad guys and Jack Burton shoots a warning shot in the ceiling dislodging rubble that falls knocking him out for most of the epic end battle was written by my dice.

-MD

Sovereign Court

Hm, i never coddled my players per se. I rolled behind the screen and fudged when narrative demanded. So i was asked not to fudge rolls and to roll in the open for the latest game.

After i rolled about 30 20s in an hour, they changed their minds. And i was using at least 4 different dice, because they refused to believe it was luck.


Wow, thanks for eating my response, internet. That was one I was typing little by little over several hours, too.

/Sigh. Well, the gist of it is this:

No, I don't prepare much--in non-3rd edition D&D/Pathfinder games, I actually do zero prep. But I do think about society and culture and ecology before things show up. Mkenner was actually pretty dead on how I work, except for the last part where he worries about the balance of encounters, since I don't think in terms of "encounters" at all.

As for that wizard example, Adamantine Dragon, I would say that I would have let them die. It was not just your mistake that would have TPKed them, it was also their choice. You specifically said they could talk their way through it or fight for it, and obviously, they chose fight. That is their choice and fixing the encounter diminishes the agency of their choice to fight rather than talk. Personally, I consider fights to be an absolute last resort, and those that choose them willingly are either foolish or lazy (since they didn't bother coming up with an alternative).

I don't try to challenge players, I just try to create a world they can interact with that has as much fidelity as possible. They make the encounters. As I said, if they walk in on Goblins having a feast, they will face a lot of goblins and it will probably be too hard. If they scout and pick them off one by one as they go hunting/to the bathroom/on patrols, it will probably be "too easy." This is not a problem for me.

In fact, I find that a lot of GMs don't realize: the actual challenge of an encounter means very little compared to the perceived challenge. I find Ogres, being large and scary monsters to always elicit deference, even by higher level PCs. If the PCs find a dragon that has been built up in the world as terrifying, powerful, and dangerous, but they kill it in one or two rounds, I find that they are not going to think, "well that was easy--what a let down!" No, they're going to think, "Holy crap! Thank goodness we defeated him so quickly or who knows what crazy stuff he could have done to us!"

So, yeah, challenge is just not a concern for me.

DrDeth wrote:
My favorite character died because the DM did not design the encounter properly and refused to change it as he was too hidebound and stubborn, not to mention he thinks he is the GawdDM and thus he’s never wrong.

I guess I avoid this because I never "design" encounters :)

But once again, I will point out that I "play fair" by removing all the "one bad roll and you lose" junk in the game designed to eat your wealth, and as a result, despite not allowing resurrection, I've had zero PC death in 20 years of GMing D&D of various editions.

Chengar Qordath wrote:
To be honest, I'm actually rather fond of not killing PCs, but making them suffer in other ways instead. For some campaigns, my rule is that if you 'die' then you won't actually die, you'll just have some very bad things happen to you. Like surviving because you sold your soul to a devil, the dragon spares your character and puts him under a geas, etc. I like to give players who are invested in their characters some way to keep playing their characters if at all possible, but they don't get out of death with no consequences.

Now, please don't take my words to mean you're badwrong or anything, but I can't imagine a thing I'd enjoy less in a roleplaying game. I would much rather have a character die than suffer some permanent debilitating effect I can't shake, especially something like selling my soul to a devil or getting a hostile gaeas put on me. That's 10 times worse than just making a new character. If I have really grown to love a character, I'd much rather have them die than compromised.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Ciaran Barnes wrote:
I have to thumbs down your entire statement on the premise that can simply kill off Faceman and Hannibal...
"A-Team" in the original sense, not the '80s TV show.

Pardon my dry sense of humor.


We've defined a lot of terms in this thread, so if you'll pardon the threadjack I'd like one more defined:

Death

Several posters here and in other threads have said they expect characters to die while others have said they've NEVER had a death. Since part of the coddling debate revolves around the GM saving characters from death, I figured we should define it.

Is it the PC dropping unconscious and under the Dying condition? Is it when they actually flatline but they can still be rezzed? Or is it when, after all is said and done there is nothing short of GM intervention that will return the PC to the campaign?

If we're defining it as negative HP then I have at least one death a session. One of my players, when I asked for his feedback on favorite scenes in my last session said his fave was when his paladin dropped to -4 and had to get healed back to 2 in order to hold a doorway one more round and thus help win the fight. However if we're saying its when they need to be rezzed or worse, the I haven't had a death for the past 2 campaigns.

This has not been due to coddling, but rather because my players always make sure they have healing magic, or consumables, or items that ensure they make it back to positive HP. Oh sure, I could run a dark world where they're attacked while resting every time but I don't. Maybe THAT is coddling.

But as it stands in my game the players run very conservative with their resources. Now there've been instances, as with AD and a couple others, where I've over or underestimated the PCs and adjusted on the fly; there is also a now-infamous fight where I screwed up the # of attacks on a charge by a monster and a PC was paralyzed and NEARLY died, but after the session wrapped and my player called me out on it I apologized and haven't made that mistake since.

But if PC death is used as a benchmark for GMing and coddling, I figure it needs to be spelled out clearly.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
Calybos1 wrote:

The most challenging encounters don't involve combat at all. Piling on more damage doesn't make a GM 'hardball.'

You seem to be the only one claiming it does, just so that you can turn around and say it doesn't. Conflicted?

Incorrect. The conversation has revolved around "challenge" being equated with lethality and the death of PCs, whereas "coddling" is equated with letting PCs survive... which is a deeply mistaken attitude.

Liberty's Edge

@Mark - I also have unconsciousness nearly every session from both sides of the table.

One of the best things Paizo did was make is -Con vs minus 10.

Also, at higher levels when ways to bring you back to life come into play, death is much, much more frequent. I think by game design.


Calybos1 wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Calybos1 wrote:

The most challenging encounters don't involve combat at all. Piling on more damage doesn't make a GM 'hardball.'

You seem to be the only one claiming it does, just so that you can turn around and say it doesn't. Conflicted?

Incorrect. The conversation has revolved around "challenge" being equated with lethality and the death of PCs, whereas "coddling" is equated with letting PCs survive... which is a deeply mistaken attitude.

See example I posted subsequently. "Lethality" =/= "combat," so if you mean one, don't say the other.


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The Maltese Falcon wrote:

"If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?"

"Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill."
"Yes, that’s, that’s true. But – they’re none of ‘em any good unless the threat of death is behind them – do you see what I mean?"


Obbligato wrote:
My vision of the ideal encounter is one where the players all get knocked down by a good chunk of hitpoints and some get so low they seriously start worrying, but they win in the end.

When I play, an ideal encounter for me is one that occurs only after several sessions of the party and the bad guys both trying desperately to rig the odds in their favor. When the ball finally drops, we see whose prep was better -- BAM! -- one side wiped out in the first round.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
ciretose wrote:
One of the best things Paizo did was make is -Con vs minus 10.

Lost an NPC due to that once, since he only had a Con of 6 or 8.


@Mark - I consider death to be when a character has reached or exceeded -con hit points, or has been hit with a death effect that supersedes hit point damage.

It is an unusual meaningful fight in my campaigns where someone doesn't go into negative hit points at least once in the fight.

In our last big fight one of the PCs went down and was looking to get hit again, so the party paladin used his ability to channel positive energy to heal the whole party (it was the only healing he had left) which saved the PC, but also healed up an enemy NPC that had gone down earlier.

The party I am running now has only recently reached levels that spells such as "raise dead" are a potential means to recover a dead party member. That may well factor into future combat decisions for me. But so far it has not.

Liberty's Edge

TriOmegaZero wrote:
ciretose wrote:
One of the best things Paizo did was make is -Con vs minus 10.
Lost an NPC due to that once, since he only had a Con of 6 or 8.

I call that fair :)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
ciretose wrote:
I call that fair :)

The players were a little nonplussed at losing the boon for saving him however.


DrDeth wrote:

Well, if they are playing foolish AND evil murderhobos, then yes, your style seems effective. My players would listen to the Gypsies. Or if somehow they messed up, they would make it good or atone, not try to kill the witnesses. (Really?!?)

Since my players wouldn’t act like that, I don’t have to assassinate their PC’s ‘for a lesson”. They don't need lessons.

It wasn't a lesson per se'. It was a natural reasction of a tight nit community. And it was a reaction I rolled, they could've just as eaily call in the Highway Patrol (yes I have a Highway Patrol, how else do you keep a civilized area civil.) or gathered a mob to lynching. It was a consiquence to their actions. If they had killed the last one and covered their tracks, they may have gotten away with it. They've been playing with me for years and should've known better. But I don't limit them in play styles, if they want to be evil bastards they are welcome to do so. However, like anything else, there is cause and effect.


Captain Wacky wrote:
DrDeth wrote:

Well, if they are playing foolish AND evil murderhobos, then yes, your style seems effective. My players would listen to the Gypsies. Or if somehow they messed up, they would make it good or atone, not try to kill the witnesses. (Really?!?)

Since my players wouldn’t act like that, I don’t have to assassinate their PC’s ‘for a lesson”. They don't need lessons.

It wasn't a lesson per se'. It was a natural reasction of a tight nit community. And it was a reaction I rolled, they could've just as eaily call in the Highway Patrol (yes I have a Highway Patrol, how else do you keep a civilized area civil.) or gathered a mob to lynching. It was a consiquence to their actions. If they had killed the last one and covered their tracks, they may have gotten away with it. They've been playing with me for years and should've known better. But I don't limit them in play styles, if they want to be evil bastards they are welcome to do so. However, like anything else, there is cause and effect.

I quote " My players knew I was brutal and took away a valuable lesson ..."

But anyway, if you encourage your guys to play stupid AND evil murderhobos then you get the kind of players you deserve and the kind of players you have to give lessons to.

Unless of course, you're playing with 14yo, in which case you have other problems.

But most of us game with mature players.


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I find as I have gained more experience I fudge things a lot less. That being said, RP consequences are often a great deal more deadly than encounters-mouthing off to the high level assassin will get you killed. No, you won't stand a chance. They're a world renowned feared assassin that noone has ever been able to convict. You, sir of the big mouth, are dead.

Combats I see as one of three categories: 1-fun (easier encounters but don't be stupid) 2-moderate (used to build tension and carry plote relations-like being constantly ambushed by the thieves' guild you honked off, or attacked by cultists, etc etc-as thematically appropriate) and 3-plot point battles (big villains, confrontations, trials, champions and the like)

How difficult they are depends on the characters entirely. They can go in prepared or unprepared. They can work together or separately. They can use tricks creatively or just roll on in. They can get allies, or go it alone.

I think I've actually killed more PCs through stupid character RP than anything else (as a DM).

I don't think I coddle my PCs but they are the centerpiece. It's their spotlight. If they defecate in it, well they're copulated. But otherwise-the main point is to enjoy themselves. handing everything over isn't fun, but neither is dragging them naked through broken glass.


Kirth Gersen wrote:
The Maltese Falcon wrote:

"If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?"

"Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill."
"Yes, that’s, that’s true. But – they’re none of ‘em any good unless the threat of death is behind them – do you see what I mean?"

Still going to lead to combat one way or another, unless one side just sits there and submits to death.


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DrDeth wrote:
Captain Wacky wrote:
DrDeth wrote:

Well, if they are playing foolish AND evil murderhobos, then yes, your style seems effective. My players would listen to the Gypsies. Or if somehow they messed up, they would make it good or atone, not try to kill the witnesses. (Really?!?)

Since my players wouldn’t act like that, I don’t have to assassinate their PC’s ‘for a lesson”. They don't need lessons.

It wasn't a lesson per se'. It was a natural reasction of a tight nit community. And it was a reaction I rolled, they could've just as eaily call in the Highway Patrol (yes I have a Highway Patrol, how else do you keep a civilized area civil.) or gathered a mob to lynching. It was a consiquence to their actions. If they had killed the last one and covered their tracks, they may have gotten away with it. They've been playing with me for years and should've known better. But I don't limit them in play styles, if they want to be evil bastards they are welcome to do so. However, like anything else, there is cause and effect.

I quote " My players knew I was brutal and took away a valuable lesson ..."

But anyway, if you encourage your guys to play stupid AND evil murderhobos then you get the kind of players you deserve and the kind of players you have to give lessons to.

Unless of course, you're playing with 14yo, in which case you have other problems.

But most of us game with mature players.

Role playing is always a learning experiance. So yes, it was a lesson, but not a lesson I was looking to push or punish my PCs with. Do your players learn from their mistakes? or do they keep doing the same thing over and over again? Because it sounds to me like there are consiquences to their actions.

I don't encourage them to play anything, they play what they feel like playing. I let them choose where They want to go and not railroad them into playing "the Hero" all the time, which is not only a dick move, but takes away any freedom you might otherwise have as a role-player.
If the hero bit is the direction they choose, they persue it, but it's up to them.

Just because you don't like my play style you've become antagonistic. Perhaps you should experiment more as a GM before criticizing anothers style. And perhaps you should look at your own maturity level before commenting on anothers.


Mark Hoover wrote:

We've defined a lot of terms in this thread, so if you'll pardon the threadjack I'd like one more defined:

Death

Several posters here and in other threads have said they expect characters to die while others have said they've NEVER had a death. Since part of the coddling debate revolves around the GM saving characters from death, I figured we should define it.

Is it the PC dropping unconscious and under the Dying condition? Is it when they actually flatline but they can still be rezzed? Or is it when, after all is said and done there is nothing short of GM intervention that will return the PC to the campaign?

If we're defining it as negative HP then I have at least one death a session. One of my players, when I asked for his feedback on favorite scenes in my last session said his fave was when his paladin dropped to -4 and had to get healed back to 2 in order to hold a doorway one more round and thus help win the fight. However if we're saying its when they need to be rezzed or worse, the I haven't had a death for the past 2 campaigns.

This has not been due to coddling, but rather because my players always make sure they have healing magic, or consumables, or items that ensure they make it back to positive HP. Oh sure, I could run a dark world where they're attacked while resting every time but I don't. Maybe THAT is coddling.

But as it stands in my game the players run very conservative with their resources. Now there've been instances, as with AD and a couple others, where I've over or underestimated the PCs and adjusted on the fly; there is also a now-infamous fight where I screwed up the # of attacks on a charge by a monster and a PC was paralyzed and NEARLY died, but after the session wrapped and my player called me out on it I apologized and haven't made that mistake since.

But if PC death is used as a benchmark for GMing and coddling, I figure it needs to be spelled out clearly.

I'd say actual permanent death. Whether that's because you're too low level to afford a Raise, lose the body and can't get True Resurrection, or whatever. It only counts if they don't come back.

If I was counting the number of times I've killed PCs and looking at whether I was a "killer" GM or a "coddler", I wouldn't count anyone who made it to the next session.


Orthos wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
The Maltese Falcon wrote:

"If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?"

"Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill."
"Yes, that’s, that’s true. But – they’re none of ‘em any good unless the threat of death is behind them – do you see what I mean?"
Still going to lead to combat one way or another, unless one side just sits there and submits to death.

Or to talking and deals. (and doublecrosses and backstabbing:)

Have you actually seen the Maltese Falcon?


thejeff wrote:
Orthos wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
The Maltese Falcon wrote:

"If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?"

"Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill."
"Yes, that’s, that’s true. But – they’re none of ‘em any good unless the threat of death is behind them – do you see what I mean?"
Still going to lead to combat one way or another, unless one side just sits there and submits to death.

Or to talking and deals. (and doublecrosses and backstabbing:)

Have you actually seen the Maltese Falcon?

I was wondering if Orthos had thought The Maltese Falcon was another poster.


Mr. Fishy agrees with the Maltese Pidgeon...There are worst things than death.

Killing you're party with unlimited resourses is pretty easy, Making a 8th lvl barbarian scream "Fire ball me for the love of god!"
Much more rewarding.

You die you make a new character. No one dies in Hell...Welcome to Hell.


thejeff wrote:
Orthos wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
The Maltese Falcon wrote:

"If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?"

"Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill."
"Yes, that’s, that’s true. But – they’re none of ‘em any good unless the threat of death is behind them – do you see what I mean?"
Still going to lead to combat one way or another, unless one side just sits there and submits to death.

Or to talking and deals. (and doublecrosses and backstabbing:)

Have you actually seen the Maltese Falcon?

I have not. I do know it was a movie though, didn't mistake it for quoting another poster.


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Orthos wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Orthos wrote:
Kirth Gersen wrote:
The Maltese Falcon wrote:

"If you kill me, how are you gonna get the bird? And if I know you can’t afford to kill me, how are you gonna scare me into giving it to you?"

"Well, sir, there are other means of persuasion besides killing and threatening to kill."
"Yes, that’s, that’s true. But – they’re none of ‘em any good unless the threat of death is behind them – do you see what I mean?"
Still going to lead to combat one way or another, unless one side just sits there and submits to death.

Or to talking and deals. (and doublecrosses and backstabbing:)

Have you actually seen the Maltese Falcon?

I have not. I do know it was a movie though, didn't mistake it for quoting another poster.

Go watch it.

Seriously. Drop whatever you're doing and go watch it now.

Edit: Alright. Maybe not quite that good. You can afford to wait for some free time. But absolutely worth watching.

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