Do you like it when bad things happen to your character?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


I'm curious if any of my fellow Pathfinders enjoy watching DRAMA and COMPLICATIONS unfold for their PCs. A little context on the comic over here.

My wife loves the big tragic moments, while I'd rather find a way to prevent them. What about the rest of you guys? Do you like this kind of thing for your PCs?


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I wouldn't say I embrace them. But I think they make better story telling than "Remember that time you everything went your way and you slaughtered everything with ease".


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Absolutely. So long as I'm not the plot's resident Charlie Brown, anyway.


Well, maybe I tend to be the table's resident Charlie Brown, but I don't like Dramaz and Komplicationz any too much... I'm playing in multiple campaigns (being single and without kids helps free up the weekends), and I'm getting tired of seeing my characters captured and enslaved or slated for sacrifice to some evil god (3 instances in 2 years, including 2 within the last month=, or having major relational problems with my character's lady of hearts (granted, I have trouble roleplaying those as I'm impaired when it comes to interpersonal relations)... basically, I have some bad feelings toward problems that I can't find solutions to.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I don't ever enjoy WATCHING that crap unfold for a PC. If I want to be an observer, rather than a participant I'll read a book or watch a movie.

Bad things that happen as a result of my characters actions, including failure to prevent others from doing bad things to my character or others I care about when I had a chance is a different thing. I don't mind not always winning, and I'd prefer there be consequences to failure (otherwise I'm just watching again.)


So long as something better will happen because of it, I don't mind bad things happening.
But it also depends on what you consider a 'bad thing'... a NPC that I've invested a lot of time in getting to know dying while I'm out of town and there's nothing to indicate that it would happen.... that's not so cool.
An NPC that I know through backstory or haven't had much interaction with dying out of the blue in order to move onto the next part of the story? Not a problem!

I don't like it when I feel like bad things are happening to me without some sort of reward.


If it isn't permanent, sure. (Which includes a DM-granted quest to have a cleric Miracle the bad thing away, Regenerate, etc). Permanent bad stuff that kills a character for reals? Only if it's pure dungeon crawl and trying to hit the numbers. Not saying I am against bad things leading to death - just that I don't enjoy the permanent bad things.


I'd rather not. I'm with Dave, I wan't to participate in the story. Things happening 'off screen' that I cannot influence feels wrong to me.

Also threatening family members/close friends always comes off like a bit of a forced plot hook and one that, when I was first starting out, had been overused and abused to the point that every adventurer was an anti-social loner/orphan with no close relationships to speak of. I did wonder whether it was just a phenomena limited to my school group so many years ago, but I have seen it affect a broad range of groups.


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It's not much of adventure without adversity.


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I am fine with the example of the comics. To be honest I would rather be « screwed » in roleplay than by a Death Glyph and a 1 on the save roll. But we play with very very rare and extraordinary resurrection so death is death so save or die and 1 tend to make people cringe their teeths. So we don’t abuse them.

I am also ok with mental trauma or curse because they make interesting plot for the story. However I HATE dismemberment. Like on a Trap or something. Very unfair mechanically speaking depending on your class, and if you are logical you PC just go to retirement.


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Volkard Abendroth wrote:
It's not much of adventure without adversity.

My wife likes to create characters with both strengths and weaknesses. She then seeks an exciting challenge and will dive headfirst into a challenge that I had intended to introduce more slowly. Sometimes the character fails. When the failure is because she bit off more than she could chew or because the weaknesses mattered, she still has fun--maybe more fun than if she had succeeded.


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SteelGuts wrote:
I would rather be « screwed » in roleplay than by a Death Glyph and a 1 on the save roll.

I thought about this a bit more since I posted. My wife recently lost a elf rogue to a massive crit. Happily, her adopted dwarven brother had reincarnate handy. She came back as a dwarf, which decidedly NOT her vision for the character.

In that sense, I think it's not so much RP vs. sudden onset death syndrom. Rather, it's important to feel like you made a conscious choice that lead to the bad stuff.


Mathmuse wrote:
Volkard Abendroth wrote:
It's not much of adventure without adversity.
My wife likes to create characters with both strengths and weaknesses. She then seeks an exciting challenge and will dive headfirst into a challenge that I had intended to introduce more slowly. Sometimes the character fails. When the failure is because she bit off more than she could chew or because the weaknesses mattered, she still has fun--maybe more fun than if she had succeeded.

^^^


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I also get a lot of enjoyment out of failure when it's due to something I chose for my character on purpose. I like to use Drawbacks for this reason, just to spice things up. The sense of accomplishment when you succeed is awesome, and the very real threat of failure is intense.

I definitely think that you shouldn't kill characters out of sheer misfortune or ill circumstance. And you certainly shouldn't dismember PC's unless you intend to make it very specific to the plot. Dismemberment, who does that?

I think that the unfortunate events should be tied to decisions the party makes, not just sprung on them willy nilly by the GM. If it is going to kill a character, the event should have enough thought and commitment to it as the party has invested in their characters.


As a player, I HATE when 'cutscene time' takes away player agency. PCs have a myriad of ways they can affect the world in 6 seconds or less, they're (generally) there to be the big damn heroes. If I can't do anything about the BBEG monologuing at us for a minute then sacrificing the princess on the altar of evil right in front of us, because the powers-that-be decided that no, we HAVE to sit back and watch this happen, then I am going to be pissed.


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When it's a significant plot point I can appreciate them. I wouldn't say I enjoy them because it seems odd to enjoy a bad thing happening to you, but I can appreciate them deepening the story and making the world more real for me.

What I do not enjoy whatsoever though is bad things happening due to random chance. A string of bad dice rolls leading to a character being virtually unplayable (save or die/suck spells as an example). They literally just destroy the fun of a game for me because I have no real control or agency over what happened, it was all random chance.

The number of times my Starfinder Solarion has been critically hit and knocked out or nearly knocked out and then proceeding to retreat isn't something I've enjoyed. It seems like I've just been unlucky with stray crits taking me out of about half of combats. Part of the problems is low levels, where combat is really swingy. It's just not enjoyable for me.

But a situation where the whole party decided to help and invest effort and caring into an NPC who ultimately turns out to betray you. That's good story telling, and while I am upset, I also appreciate how it progresses the story.


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Drama and complications make for absolutely terrific roleplaying fodder, as well as adding depth to a character. Every campaign I've ever run has had multiple character story lines running through them, some tragic, some heroic.


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Claxon wrote:
But a situation where the whole party decided to help and invest effort and caring into an NPC who ultimately turns out to betray you. That's good story telling, and while I am upset, I also appreciate how it progresses the story.

I'm still mad about Yoshimo, dammit.

Sczarni

I prefer comedy to tragedy. Outright rofflestomping the party is not fun, nor is GM Fiat (the most annoying way to GM is to say "that doesn't apply in this instance because I'm trying to tell a story, shut up and let me do what I want to your characters!).

That said, story telling with tragic events is fine. Timmy fell down the well, can you go rescue him? OK. But annoying "you start out in a pit with all your equipment gone" is not only cliche' it is typically a major annoyance (esp. for higher level characters). Getting the players to the pit, and having the earth quake, forcing a Ref save is perfectly acceptable, IMHO. How tragic! Most of (if not all) the party joins Timmy in the pit!

Making the Ref save 60 so that nobody could possibly make it is not ok. I can only think of two modules that do this sort of thing (ice and fire, respectively) and the ice one still doesn't make much sense to me.

Sczarni

Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
As a player, I HATE when 'cutscene time' takes away player agency. PCs have a myriad of ways they can affect the world in 6 seconds or less, they're (generally) there to be the big damn heroes. If I can't do anything about the BBEG monologuing at us for a minute then sacrificing the princess on the altar of evil right in front of us, because the powers-that-be decided that no, we HAVE to sit back and watch this happen, then I am going to be pissed.

Amen.

Sczarni

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DRD1812 wrote:
SteelGuts wrote:
I would rather be « screwed » in roleplay than by a Death Glyph and a 1 on the save roll.

I thought about this a bit more since I posted. My wife recently lost a elf rogue to a massive crit. Happily, her adopted dwarven brother had reincarnate handy. She came back as a dwarf, which decidedly NOT her vision for the character.

In that sense, I think it's not so much RP vs. sudden onset death syndrom. Rather, it's important to feel like you made a conscious choice that lead to the bad stuff.

Killing her once a day and reincarnating her is out of the question for some reason? Elf is 10% of the chart, take 10.


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The key, as addressed above, is agency. A GM's job is create a world and let the PCs interact with its inhabitants and structures.

Character decisions, as long as they are realistic, outweigh any story, drama, or plot arcs I had planned. I try to give the PCs any info that is important to their narratives, but I also reward curiosity and expect the players to know events continue to occur when they are focused elsewhere.

With shared expectations, people seem okay no matter how things play out, so long as they are the agents of change and I am not trying to impose my plot arc upon them.


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maouse wrote:
Killing her once a day and reincarnating her is out of the question for some reason? Elf is 10% of the chart, take 10.

I know it's a silly idea, but we've considered questing for a cyclops druid willing to cast the spell. I suspect it isn't RAW, but their Flash of Insight ability could theoretically allow you to pick your next body.


DRD1812 wrote:

...we've considered questing for a cyclops druid willing to cast the spell. I suspect it isn't RAW, but their Flash of Insight ability could theoretically allow you to pick your next body.

That's a fantastic idea and I hope your GM runs with it! (And doesn't pull a dick move like making the cyclops a jerk and change what race she comes back as as something worse than a dwarf.)


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I do terrible things to my characters myself. Ala this comic. But I am generally a writer away from the table, so drama and motivation are important parts of characters.

I have gone out of my way as a player and GM to encourage inter-character relationships and drama as well. They can very much add new depth to otherwise boring characters.


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For me it depends on intent of the GM, whether the story line is carried forward and whether the bad things fit my character's background and motivations. This applies to intentional bad things.

Random bad things I don't mind if the situation was fairly set up (e.g. the DC of that save or such roll was actually reasonable). However, I hate random bad things if they happen "all the time".


DRD1812 wrote:
maouse wrote:
Killing her once a day and reincarnating her is out of the question for some reason? Elf is 10% of the chart, take 10.

I know it's a silly idea, but we've considered questing for a cyclops druid willing to cast the spell. I suspect it isn't RAW, but their Flash of Insight ability could theoretically allow you to pick your next body.

I'm of the opinion that a Lesser Wish would be sufficient to restore her previous race and appearance. That would cost about 2,500 gp if you could find a wizard that is willing to sell a casting. Or you're GM could use it as a quest reward.

If you want to insist that Lesser Wish isn't good enough, then Polymorph Other would definitely fix the race thing. it would actually be cheaper at 1,600 gp but its a bit harder to find a wizard capable of casting 8th level spells.


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I have more fun if I feel like my decisions matter. I would be perfectly happy for my PC to die or permanently lose some gear because my decisions put my PC in danger.

If I start to feel like my characters are not in danger, I take bigger and bigger risks until I get the danger I crave.

Dark Archive

This is wildly dependent on how frequently bad things happen. When you make a bad decision or a roll comes up badly, that's one thing. It leads to entertaining stories and a few laughs for the table.

When the Gm decides a bad things are going to happen to you for kicks, that's a another issue. I once was playing a Council of Thieves game and we were investigating a house. I roll a 30 on my perception, find nothing. I walk a step forward and suddenly I'm grappled by a giant spider, no surprise round, no cmb check, I'm just grappled.

The Paladin attacks the spider, and suddenly I have to make a roll to not also get stabbed by the Paladin, because surprise, suddenly we're playing 50-50 rules... I asked the gm and the others what I should've done to avoid that situation and I got a shrug back.

I didn't stick around that game much longer.


Absolutely! I love mechanics but I most of all love Roleplay and Emotional Journeys. I try and make this the center point of any game I run and games I play just because that's what makes me happy- I'm happy about my group of people I play with, because we all share similar goals from games.


DRD1812 wrote:
SteelGuts wrote:
I would rather be « screwed » in roleplay than by a Death Glyph and a 1 on the save roll.

I thought about this a bit more since I posted. My wife recently lost a elf rogue to a massive crit. Happily, her adopted dwarven brother had reincarnate handy. She came back as a dwarf, which decidedly NOT her vision for the character.

In that sense, I think it's not so much RP vs. sudden onset death syndrom. Rather, it's important to feel like you made a conscious choice that lead to the bad stuff.

On both occasions over the years that a character of mine has been reincarnated, he came back as a dwarf. The first was previously a goblin archer and the second a half-elf cha caster. In both case the character suffered mechanically, but there were also some role-playing challenges and I think that can be worth it.


well, I had a human get killed and reincarnated as a dwarf not too long ago, he did not mind so much except the fact he would have to learn dwarvish and did not want to spend the skill point... of course, that's moot now as the campaign went on hiatus shortly after...

Dark Archive

LOL. We just ran 3 Sorcerers (level 1) and a Cleric (level 2) through the Emerald Spire Superdungeon; The Tower Ruins. My Sorcerer got ONE 11. Everything else I rolled on attack rolls was under 10 <not 10 and under... under 10>.

Spoiler:
I killed two things: one with a 4d6+8 Shocking Grasp that made a nice POP sound (rolled an 8, +3 SG vs metal weapon wielder +2 flanking = 13 vs touch). The other with the 11 and a ray of frost (+2 ranged due to Dex bonus. 1d3+1, finished it off).

We talked our way out of the floor. And even that only because we "aided other" on Diplomacy (untrained, managed a 10 by one or two of us and the Cleric talked us by).

The Cleric was by default the tank (19AC, we had 14's and 12's). And healer. And Diplomat. LOL.

Some nights you just can't buy a hit (but hey, I did roll 3 20's on my saving throws, so there was that)


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Isaac Zephyr wrote:
I do terrible things to my characters myself. Ala this comic. But I am generally a writer away from the table, so drama and motivation are important parts of characters.

Love this. Do this. All the time. Both writing out of the table and through the game, whenever there is an occasion. My GM is still afraid of being too harsh to my characters...

Last game I had to reroll two characters (because of a wedding, not a killing). They were quite boring. Had great inspiration on the background of a follower... the story included being a former / not-so-former slave, having been tortured by vampires and a drug addict (very addict), and finally going mute. But she did attract powerful reactions from others as soon as she was noticed, and she had a good personality backing the story. It also allowed to give her a link to another character who had had contact with the same nest of vamps'.

The original characters meant for replacement were great, they had real personalities, objectives, and life, but they were less intense.

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