how many of you would allow coup-de-gras in 2e, now there's a rule for it?


Rules Discussion

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Liberty's Edge

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Aratorin wrote:
The hostage dies for the same reason Aeris(or Aerith if you prefer) did. The plot says so. You don't need rules for that.

Depends on your players and your game. Many people were upset about the logical holes in that one even in a video game, and would not put up with it in an RPG with a GM you can actually talk to and blame it on.

Generally speaking 'death by cutscene' is not acceptable in most tabletop RPG groups I've played with.


I think the reasons the executioner has a special ability for executing things (instead of just narrating the execution) are;

1# it's an executioner statblock, people would complain if it didn't have an ability for what it does

And more importantly

2# when it is a PC on the chopping block, or a very important NPC the PCs are trying to rescue, it is useful to have mechanics that aren't just "instant death with no dice rolls" - the fort save at least gives the player or NPC a chance to survive the first swing, in which case the rest of the PCs have a round in which to save them before the executioner tries again.

If it isn't a situation where the PCs are trying to mount a dramatic rescue, then you absolutely should just skip the abilities and dice rolls and just narrate that their head gets chopped off.


Concise guidelines are good.
Vague guidelines are bad.
Complicated guidelines are bad.

No rule on how to run mercy/kill confirms runs into the problem of what happens when it happens to a PC. Too many rules makes it unfun. But a clear and simple rule makes it very useable.

Knowing what the executioner NPC can do, can help in creating a PC version.

*************

A simple homebrewed derivative of the executioner::
If a target is at 0 or dying roll an attack, on a success the target must make a fort save using your Class DC or die instantly.

That gives both the chance of the creature/PC not being stabbed in a vital organ, and the chance that they dont bleed out as much as they should.


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Aratorin wrote:
The hostage dies for the same reason Aeris(or Aerith if you prefer) did. The plot says so. You don't need rules for that.

Why play if the plot is pre-determined? Railroading sucks.

Are we watching a movie or playing an interactive game? Are we passengers or drivers?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
krobrina wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
The hostage dies for the same reason Aeris(or Aerith if you prefer) did. The plot says so. You don't need rules for that.

Why play if the plot is pre-determined? Railroading sucks.

Are we watching a movie or playing an interactive game? Are we passengers or drivers?

Stories told in RPGs are made of both interactive and non-interactive elements. Some of the best RPG campaigns ever published - such as Paizo's Curse of the Crimson Throne or Chaosium's Masks of Nyarlathotep - mix elements players can influence/change with "cutscenes" that propel the story.

If that's new to you, you have some catching up to do before you start arguing about miuntae.


Gorbacz wrote:

Stories told in RPGs are made of both interactive and non-interactive elements. Some of the best RPG campaigns ever published - such as Paizo's Curse of the Crimson Throne or Chaosium's Masks of Nyarlathotep - mix elements players can influence/change with "cutscenes" that propel the story.

If that's new to you, you have some catching up to do before you start arguing about miuntae.

Mid-game cut scenes were first added to video games to mask loading times, and this is why you can't cancel them in most games.

In tabletop, what is the purpose of a cut scene that can't be achieved with interactive play?

Flexbility of human interaction is what distinguishes a tabletop RPG game from a computer RPG game and cut scenes take that away.

In tabletop, it's a tool for lazy GMs who can't move the plot in the direction the group wants without keeping the game interactive, or it's a tool for a GM to force a storyline to occur by removing player agency.

Silver Crusade

Pretty sure “cut scenes” were in Tabletop RPGs before they were in video games.

Liberty's Edge

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There are debatably a few 'cut scenes' in some good APs, but basically none where the PCs fail to save someone they are attempting to save, or a foe they are about to fight kills innocents without them being able to intervene, because having that scripted out really denies player agency in a deeply unfun way.

The closest thing to that I can think of, is the murder of someone much higher level than the PCs, who the PCs know is much higher level, by someone they don't fight for a long time after that...which is to say they don't feel like their agency was damaged since it was 'above their pay grade' on a rather profound level.


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Not to mention "scripted events" existed for story reasons long before loading times were a thing. Things happen that are beyond the PC's control. That's life.

Crono dying wasn't masking loading times. It was integral to the plot.

If your players need the illusion of rules for that, this is the reason GM screens exist. Sorry, the guy failed his Save.


Aratorin wrote:

Not to mention "scripted events" existed for story reasons long before loading times were a thing. Things happen that are beyond the PC's control. That's life.

Crono dying wasn't masking loading times. It was integral to the plot.

If your players need the illusion of rules for that, this is the reason GM screens exist. Sorry, the guy failed his Save.

Why is there a predetermined plot for a tabletop RPG if the players don’t want one?

Not everyone will want everything the gm says just because they bought an adventure. If you do, fine. Your game. If you don’t, cut scenes are a massive problem.

Silver Crusade

Because not every GM comes into a game completely unprepared and makes stuff up on the fly?


Deadmanwalking wrote:
There are debatably a few 'cut scenes' in some good APs, but basically none where the PCs fail to save someone they are attempting to save, or a foe they are about to fight kills innocents without them being able to intervene, because having that scripted out really denies player agency in a deeply unfun way.

We're getting kind of far from the original premise. The idea behind an antagonist holding an NPC hostage and demanding the MacGuffin from the PCs in exchange for their safety is to force the PCs to make a choice- keep the MacGuffin or save the NPC.

It's not necessary to make anybody roll for anything if the PCs choose the whatsit and not the person, and the GM setting up "this or that" style choices is 100% valid.

Liberty's Edge

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PossibleCabbage wrote:
We're getting kind of far from the original premise. The idea behind an antagonist holding an NPC hostage and demanding the MacGuffin from the PCs in exchange for their safety is to force the PCs to make a choice- keep the MacGuffin or save the NPC.

That's, frankly, a b##@+#&& false dichotomy. I can think of a dozen ways to work around that issue and not make either of those choices, depending on circumstances. It's almost universally a ham-handed attempt to force PCs into a binary no win situation...which is both deeply unrealistic and deeply unfun.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
It's not necessary to make anybody roll for anything if the PCs choose the whatsit and not the person,

It should be in many games, IMO. NPCs don't get to autosucceed at things while 'on screen' any more than PCs do. Now, if you'd let PCs do this without rolling, letting NPCs do it as well is fair, but not usually very fun.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
and the GM setting up "this or that" style choices is 100% valid.

No. It isn't. Every choice like this I've ever seen or run into in an RPG was pretty much a terrible storytelling choice, and one designed to railroad PCs in a specific direction. It's lazy, unrealistic, dramatically unstaisfying, and generally unfun for most players. It is, basically universally, a bad GMing mistake.

Hostage taking can be part of many good and sound plotlines, but this kind of 'this or that' b#~%~~++ is not one of them.

Liberty's Edge

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I do not see it as a matter of valid but a matter of fun. If we do not have fun when playing, why even play at all?

Most players I know need some pretty good IC reasons why the murder could happen in spite of their presence.

And "because it makes for a better story IMO" is not an IC reason.

Being too far, the murderer being too fast, or too high-level to be stopped are all examples of good IC reasons.

And boxed text making no sense because PCs would realistically act, like the heroes they are, rather than wait passively for the scene to play without them is no fun IME.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
We're getting kind of far from the original premise. The idea behind an antagonist holding an NPC hostage and demanding the MacGuffin from the PCs in exchange for their safety is to force the PCs to make a choice- keep the MacGuffin or save the NPC.

That's, frankly, a b#%%@+%! false dichotomy. I can think of a dozen ways to work around that issue and not make either of those choices, depending on circumstances. It's almost universally a ham-handed attempt to force PCs into a binary no win situation...which is both deeply unrealistic and deeply unfun.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
It's not necessary to make anybody roll for anything if the PCs choose the whatsit and not the person,

It should be in many games, IMO. NPCs don't get to autosucceed at things while 'on screen' any more than PCs do. Now, if you'd let PCs do this without rolling, letting NPCs do it as well is fair, but not usually very fun.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
and the GM setting up "this or that" style choices is 100% valid.

No. It isn't. Every choice like this I've ever seen or run into in an RPG was pretty much a terrible storytelling choice, and one designed to railroad PCs in a specific direction. It's lazy, unrealistic, dramatically unstaisfying, and generally unfun for most players. It is, basically universally, a bad GMing mistake.

Hostage taking can be part of many good and sound plotlines, but this kind of 'this or that' b$#+#%%# is not one of them.

How can it be deeply unrealistic when it's EXACTLY how real life hostage situations go? If the guy holding the gun shoots the hostage in the head, they're dead. If it didn't work that way, you would never hear about hostage situations, because the tactic wouldn't work.

Most human beings have to make binary choices on a regular basis.

Do I pay my rent or buy food for my kids?

Do I swerve to avoid the cyclist, thereby running into oncoming traffic, or hit the cyclist?

Do I tell the Empire what they need, or let them blow up my home planet? (Ok, this one might not be a regular occurrence)

Do I call out sick and spare my coworkers the Carona virus, or go to work because I need the money?

Really, what you want is for the PCs to never have to make any decisions, and simply get whatever they want, because that's "fun". Just ask any 4 year old.

Liberty's Edge

The way hostage situations with the hero on site are done in great movies are likely good models for how it should happen.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
That's, frankly, a b*@*!#+~ false dichotomy. I can think of a dozen ways to work around that issue and not make either of those choices, depending on circumstances. It's almost universally a ham-handed attempt to force PCs into a binary no win situation...which is both deeply unrealistic and deeply unfun.

If you find a way to work around it, there's still no reason to roll for damage. The point is you can set it up so that if the villain is able to attack the hostage unimpeded, the hostage dies. If you can stop time or sneakily magic him unconscious or whatever, good. Roll to see if you can do that, don't roll to see if the hostage dies if they get stabbed- they do. If the PCs set out to rescue the hostage, but they mess up then the hostage dies. We roll to see if the PCs succeed or not, but not if the hostage dies in case the PCs screw this up.

Realism is a personal aesthetic, but I find "binary no-win states" to be pretty common in real life.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
It should be in many games, IMO. NPCs don't get to autosucceed at things while 'on screen' any more than PCs do. Now, if you'd let PCs do this without rolling, letting NPCs do it as well is fair, but not usually very fun.

PCs succeed at things all the time without rolling in my games. I don't see a point in making people roll to see if they can climb a ladder, walk down the stairs, or converse politely in an ordinary conversation. In circumstances where a villain has arranged things so they can decisively and efficiently dispatch a helpless captive, I don't see a problem in assuming they have basic competency and can pull that off.

Deadmanwalking wrote:
No. It isn't. Every choice like this I've ever seen or run into in an RPG was pretty much a terrible storytelling choice, and one designed to railroad PCs in a specific direction. It's lazy, unrealistic, dramatically unstaisfying, and generally unfun for most players. It is, basically universally, a bad GMing mistake.

This-or-that situations happen constantly- "there are two doors, which one do you take" being the Ur-example. The PCs might believe they can just come back and take the other door, but they cannot know whether or not circumstances will make the other door unavailable or less attractive an option later.

I mean, there's always a third choice- you can pick neither door, you can converse with the villain to see if you can reach an understanding, but the narrative itself will present "pick one of a small set of things" often. Players are free to suggest alternative courses, but if the PCs declare that they are okay with some outcome then they get to live with it.

Liberty's Edge

Aratorin wrote:
How can it be deeply unrealistic when it's EXACTLY how real life hostage situations go? If the guy holding the gun shoots the hostage in the head, they're dead. If it didn't work that way, you would never hear about hostage situations, because the tactic wouldn't work.

To be clear, what I was saying was unrealistic was the binary 'give us the McGuffin or we kill the hostage' with no other options, not the hostage dying if shot or stabbed.

And from that perspective, many hostage situations do not end with giving the hostage taker what they want, nor with the hostage dying. So there are, in fact, other options. Now, the hostages certainly sometimes die, but it's not a binary choice by any means.

Aratorin wrote:
Most human beings have to make binary choices on a regular basis.

Not ones with absolutely no other options. You can 100% be in a situation where all your options suck, but there are very rarely only two of them.

Aratorin wrote:
Do I pay my rent or buy food for my kids?

Or get a loan from a friend. Or go mug somebody. Or start dealing drugs for more cash. Or get on food stamps. Or talk to your landlord about working off your rent in labor. Or a hundred other things. Many of them are worse than the two options you list, at least in some ways, but there aren't only two of them, and others are probably better.

Aratorin wrote:
Do I swerve to avoid the cyclist, thereby running into oncoming traffic, or hit the cyclist?

Or swerve the other way into a concrete barrier, or try to pull some sort of freakish miracle and make a u-turn and avoid the whole thing (I swear, I have a friend who can and has done the latter successfully in weird driving situations).

Aratorin wrote:
Do I tell the Empire what they need, or let them blow up my home planet? (Ok, this one might not be a regular occurrence)

Or lie and trick them into thinking you gave them what they want. Or believably threaten to kill everyone they love if they dare. Or break your chains and kill them. Some of those may be impossible, but there are options other than capitulation or just allowing them to kill the planet.

Aratorin wrote:
Do I call out sick and spare my coworkers the Carona virus, or go to work because I need the money?

Or blackmail your boss into letting you stay home, or record them demanding you work sick and set up for a class action suit, or get a new job. Again, not all of these are good ideas, but it's not just a binary choice.

Aratorin wrote:
Really, what you want is for the PCs to never have to make any decisions, and simply get whatever they want, because that's "fun". Just ask any 4 year old.

No, it isn't. I'm fine with making the players make choices, having bad things happen to them, or most often both, what I think is unpleasant and stupid is artificially restricting their options down to only two predefined paths.

The great virtue of tabletop RPGs is that they allow the players to think outside the box and come up with solutions other than the predefined options. Paring that down to 'You must choose A or B. There are no other options.' is a terrible idea basically always.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
If you find a way to work around it, there's still no reason to roll for damage. The point is you can set it up so that if the villain is able to attack the hostage unimpeded, the hostage dies. If you can stop time or sneakily magic him unconscious or whatever, good. Roll to see if you can do that, don't roll to see if the hostage dies if they get stabbed- they do. If the PCs set out to rescue the hostage, but they mess up then the hostage dies. We roll to see if the PCs succeed or not, but not if the hostage dies in case the PCs screw this up.

Sure. My main argument is specifically against 'this or that' style binary choices, not auto-killing NPCs. I have a separate argument against auto-killing (see below), but the paragraph you're responding to here is explicitly and entirely about binary no-win scenarios.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Realism is a personal aesthetic, but I find "binary no-win states" to be pretty common in real life.

No win? Sure. Binary? Almost never.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
PCs succeed at things all the time without rolling in my games. I don't see a point in making people roll to see if they can climb a ladder, walk down the stairs, or converse politely in an ordinary conversation. In circumstances where a villain has arranged things so they can decisively and efficiently dispatch a helpless captive, I don't see a problem in assuming they have basic competency and can pull that off.

Sure, if the hostage is a level -1 commoner or the like. Indeed, I showed in an earlier post that past the very low levels, this actually does become automatic by the rules (my example gives a level 1 enemy a 70% or so chance...given how level disparities work in PF2 it's probably a 95% chance by 5th level or so).

But I wouldn't let a PC casually kill an unwounded level 10 NPC without rolling, even if they do have a knife to their throat, and I thus wouldn't allow an NPC to do that either. Nor do I think doing so in a case like that is a good idea, generally speaking. It makes the players feel like you're favoring NPCs over them and/or railroading them by violating the game rules, and neither are good feelings.

PossibleCabbage wrote:

This-or-that situations happen constantly- "there are two doors, which one do you take" being the Ur-example. The PCs might believe they can just come back and take the other door, but they cannot know whether or not circumstances will make the other door unavailable or less attractive an option later.

I mean, there's always a third choice- you can pick neither door, you can converse with the villain to see if you can reach an understanding, but the narrative itself will present "pick one of a small set of things" often. Players are free to suggest alternative courses, but if the PCs declare that they are okay with some outcome then they get to live with it.

The issue here, I think, is one of definition as much as anything. I would not characterize a villain saying 'Give me X or I kill Steve' as a 'this or that' choice. Nor is it in many ways. It's a situation that the PCs may respond to however they desire.

I'd define a 'this or that' choice as one where other options are completely unavailable, and pretty much any time the GM tries to pare down the options for how to solve a problem to make that a thing, I think that's a terrible mistake. This sure sounded like what you were advocating, and was primarily what I was responding to and disagreeing with.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think this is just a matter of player's expectations for the game. If they prefer to have more of a cutscene/cinematic experience and are okay with you providing them with character motivation via these "hard choices", then sure. Go hog wild. But if the players want to have more of an ability to shape how things go, even in these circumstances, then the GM needs to be aware of those expectations and plan the sessions accordingly. Have the set-up for possibilities, but never to have a hard plan on what happens so long as the PCs are directly there and involved.

Have the NPCs beheaded before the PCs get there, have the kidnappings happen while the PCs are out of town, etc etc. Use those moments as hard motivators, but don't force it as "choices" when the myriad of choices a PC can do is much more than just "option A or B".

The Exchange

In a rules discussion forum it is surely fair to wonder if it is optimal that the only efficacious way to hold someone at e.g. knife point it is for the GM to decide it is a good narrative fit.

The executioner’s ability removes the need for that in very limited circumstances.

What I would like to better understand is why there is such deeply felt resistance to allowing rules where a helpless character is very much more vulnerable to a focused lethal attack than one that is not helpless.

If you are posing no significantly bigger threat attacking a paralysed foe with lethal intent than you do attacking one that is awake and fighting back then that is a bit daft! The increased chance of critical hits really doesn’t make it much less daft.

W


heretic wrote:

In a rules discussion forum it is surely fair to wonder if it is optimal that the only efficacious way to hold someone at e.g. knife point it is for the GM to decide it is a good narrative fit.

The executioner’s ability removes the need for that in very limited circumstances.

What I would like to better understand is why there is such deeply felt resistance to allowing rules where a helpless character is very much more vulnerable to a focused lethal attack than one that is not helpless.

If you are posing no significantly bigger threat attacking a paralysed foe with lethal intent than you do attacking one that is awake and fighting back then that is a bit daft! The increased chance of critical hits really doesn’t make it much less daft.

W

Because that turns a spell like Sleep from a fairly weak spell into a TPK. Heck, even a critical success on a Grapple would be insta-death. Once you have rules for it, players will be dying left and right. Now that is not fun.

Liberty's Edge

Aratorin wrote:
Because that turns a spell like Sleep from a fairly weak spell into a TPK. Heck, even a critical success on a Grapple would be insta-death. Once you have rules for it, players will be dying left and right. Now that is not fun.

That’s the “practical” reason I don’t miss it from PF1. I also just don’t enjoy playing PF in a world where characters routinely kill the helpless. My PF1 tables generally operated with a sometimes unspoken and sometimes explicit understanding that if PCs don’ Lt routinely coup monsters and NPCs then NPCs and monsters wouldn’t routinely coup PCs. We didn’t quite ignore the rule entirely, but it was, thankfully, a rarity.


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Aratorin wrote:
Really, what you want is for the PCs to never have to make any decisions, and simply get whatever they want, because that's "fun". Just ask any 4 year old.

How about we don't presume to tell other people we know what's in their minds better than themselves?

The Exchange

Luke Styer wrote:
Aratorin wrote:
Because that turns a spell like Sleep from a fairly weak spell into a TPK. Heck, even a critical success on a Grapple would be insta-death. Once you have rules for it, players will be dying left and right. Now that is not fun.
That’s the “practical” reason I don’t miss it from PF1. I also just don’t enjoy playing PF in a world where characters routinely kill the helpless. My PF1 tables generally operated with a sometimes unspoken and sometimes explicit understanding that if PCs don’ Lt routinely coup monsters and NPCs then NPCs and monsters wouldn’t routinely coup PCs. We didn’t quite ignore the rule entirely, but it was, thankfully, a rarity.

Thanks folks. Not really being won over but thanks for sharing.

Making rules that fly in the face of common sense because reality can be ugly and put PCs into jeopardy seems really odd. And accepting that RPG rules are inherently abstract is no reason to indulge in magical thinking!

If you insist that making someone fall deeply asleep, paralysing them or restraining them so they are immobile & bound hand and feet essentially a tactical irrelevancy......it is immersion breaking.

I disagree very strongly that requiring players to deal with life or death jeopardy isn’t fun and giving them a get out of jail free card because the bad guys might take advantage of them seems wrong.

The CdG was used in my games rarely & only when it was appropriate: generally players who managed to get a chance to slay a dangerous foe that normal methods of attack were failing or when the specific reason that someone was fighting was to kill a particular character and there was nothing else useful for the would be killer to do and so on.

Yes an effect that renders you helpless is a very powerful thing by dint of the fact you are so tremendously vulnerable.

I do recognise that the developers must not like the idea of the CdG as it is notable by it’s absence and the rules around an executioner.

W


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I think if it was used rarely then you weren't using it realistically already.

Liberty's Edge

heretic wrote:
If you insist that making someone fall deeply asleep, paralysing them or restraining them so they are immobile & bound hand and feet essentially a tactical irrelevancy......it is immersion breaking.

I think there’s a meaningful distinction between “not vulnerable to automatic death” and “a tactical irrelevancy.”

Liberty's Edge

Malk_Content wrote:
I think if it was used rarely then you weren't using it realistically already.

Agreed. If a character is ready and willing to not hair risk killing opponents by fighting them, but to take positive steps to ensure their deaths, it seems like something that would become a go-to.

The Exchange

Malk_Content wrote:
I think if it was used rarely then you weren't using it realistically already.

Well I guess we’re are all free to express an opinion on games we have never had any personal experience of.

The mechanic was used when appropriate. That is to say incapacitating an opponent with a view to a CdG was not used as the go to tactic but if a character was attacking a paralysed character then the rules were there as an option. Given it was a full round action it didn’t come up that often.

@Malk_content. There is a distinction but not one well reflected by current rules. Attacking a helpless foe is not much different to attacking an active one.

W


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Aratorin wrote:
Because that turns a spell like Sleep from a fairly weak spell into a TPK. Heck, even a critical success on a Grapple would be insta-death. Once you have rules for it, players will be dying left and right. Now that is not fun.

Sometimes it is fun, and we use dice for a reason. Not every TPK is a problem. Some groups are fine with them.

It's not insta-dead either. It's 3 actions and a fortitude save.

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