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Old 11-16-2019, 04:10 PM   #11
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

I have been avidly reading replies to this thread, but it was trimester-report-writing week at school so I had no time for posting. I appreciate all of the comments and have plenty to think about. A few responses, at semi-random:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone View Post
For the young'uns, though . . . I don't know, I think there's a bit of a mismatch between "let's play a game of hacking at enemies with swords" and "let's not have too much gore".
But without called shots, it's possible to keep a game at PG-level violence (or G, even) by just taking down hit points. I may not agree with the distinctions, but they seem culturally relevant at the moment. Many parents don't mind their kids playing an imaginary game where their alter egos duke it out with the forces of evil, but they might be very uncomfortable if they thought that the social studies teacher was explaining why a cutting attack to the neck is an especially effective attack.

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
That's the best advice yet: Don't talk gory. . . .
Whether that's a good idea is off-topic for this forum and perhaps on-topic for a forum about child psychology. It suffices to say that there are those who feel that hiding the consequences of violent actions by, for example, taking the blood and gore away tends to desensitize kids.
We have debates about this all the time in both my parenting and education circles. Many schools are hyper-sensitive these days to any depictions of weapons or violence. Tabletop RPGs are cut plenty of slack, but I do want to pay attention to the appearance of things.

Quote:
Yeah, "And Stay Down!" (Exploits, p. 86) doesn't get a lot of love. I think it's a good, simple, and even realistic rule.
It gets lots of love from me! I apply it in all of my games unless I'm playing with people who explicitly want to focus on the combat mini-game.

Quote:
That, too, is sage advice. Just limiting encounters to monsters in the Construct, Demon, Divine Servitor, Elder Thing, Elemental, Plant, Slime, Spirit, and Undead classes will solve the problem nicely . . . and if the kids come from homes where demons and such aren't a comfortable subject, leave out Demon and Divine Servitor (or rebrand monsters in those classes as belonging to one of the others, probably Elder Thing, Elemental, Spirit, or Undead) . Doing this won't really limit the game that much.
Yes, this is good. Sometimes it's nice to play without any of the moral ambiguity that sentient humanoids bring to the table (whether with kids or adults). Interestingly, I haven't caught any whiffs of concern about demons and whatnot, though I'll avoid the default DFRPG references to "The Devil."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Leviathan View Post
If you're going to be running a game for kids the level of violence is something you'll be accountable for. But when I was in middle school there weren't a lot of movies I watched that didn't feature heads exploding or body parts being lopped off, usually with geysers of gore and chunks of person. I started gaming when I was 10, and while the games weren't detailed in that violence my GM's didn't hesitate to describe the gruesome critical hits. I'd talk to your kid players and find out if they're uncomfortable with the violence before you start dumbing down what they may find the most enjoyable part of the game.
I should have split my question into two sections. I was partly asking in relation to younger kids (elementary-age) who may not be playing violent video games or watching PG-13 movies yet. For them, I think it makes sense to remove hit locations, or at least change it up a bit.

With the older kids, I'm not worried about what they play when I'm not involved. (My own middle-school games were hyper-gory too.) But as an employee, I do need to honor the norms of the school and parent community. Probably for the middle school set I won't change anything, but I wanted to explore the options.

I think, too, that it will be a good time to talk about table-agreements in terms of the types of stories we are telling and whatnot. I'd hope that the gamers I'm bringing into the community won't create scandals at Gen Con down the road!
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:23 PM   #12
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
I think, too, that it will be a good time to talk about table-agreements in terms of the types of stories we are telling and whatnot. I'd hope that the gamers I'm bringing into the community won't create scandals at Gen Con down the road!
Yeah, this is my biggest reservation with kids. Roleplay ethics and consent is tough to articulate with children because they've so rarely needed to be responsible with any power in a relationship.
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Old 11-19-2019, 02:28 PM   #13
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
That said, perhaps I've always run with a different kind of kids, but every early gamer I've ever met, on being introduced into a combat situation, goes for the kill.
This absolutely describes my daughters, 11 and 13, who will gleefully shoot for eyes and hack off limbs.
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Old 11-19-2019, 03:21 PM   #14
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
For that matter, it doesn't take much tweaking to use Animal, Faerie, Hybrid, and Mundane monsters that ought to bleed and squeal. Making heavy use of "And Stay Down!" should do it.
Alternately, use the regular stats but describe them as plants or robots or whatever. Instead of goblins, the mines are occupied by 'broclins,' which are similar but a kind of angry ambulatory broccoli.
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Old 11-19-2019, 04:34 PM   #15
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

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Originally Posted by martinl View Post
Alternately, use the regular stats but describe them as plants or robots or whatever. Instead of goblins, the mines are occupied by 'broclins,' which are similar but a kind of angry ambulatory broccoli.
Point. I know many children who would happily dismember a horde of Broclins and crush their corpses into the mud while laughing gleefully.

Last edited by Dalin; 11-19-2019 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 11-19-2019, 05:49 PM   #16
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
Point. I know many children who would happily dismember a horde Broclins and crush their corpses into the mud while laughing gleefully.
Plus: they're vegetarian. Clearly.

New job description for such delvers is "Combat Horticulture."
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Old 11-19-2019, 06:45 PM   #17
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

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Originally Posted by martinl View Post
Alternately, use the regular stats but describe them as plants or robots or whatever. Instead of goblins, the mines are occupied by 'broclins,' which are similar but a kind of angry ambulatory broccoli.
As a child I ate broclins for lunch...

and dinner...

basically almost any meal. I love broclins, nom-nom-nom.
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:59 PM   #18
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

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Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
Point. I know many children who would happily dismember a horde of Broclins and crush their corpses into the mud while laughing gleefully.
Remember to bring vials of blessed cheese sauce!
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:54 PM   #19
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

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Remember to bring vials of blessed cheese sauce!
Oh holy ranch of the hidden valley, we anoint these heathens in your blessed sauce... let it's creaminess cover all bitterness, let them be found among the tasty once more! NOM-NOM!
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Old 11-19-2019, 10:37 PM   #20
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Default Re: Toning down the grue

Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
Remember to bring vials of blessed cheese sauce!
Broclins and their wan demonic cousins, the peshkaliflower are gustatory devilspawn. Douse them in Hellandaise sauce and roast them where they stand.

Speaking of violence: For foes that do bleed and shriek, there have been many suggestions to replace the more graphic hit locations with generic "critical location" targets. This sounds very good for going low-grue.

With a side benefit, perhaps: The expensive Physiology skill kind of runs up against the fact that, for so many monsters, the neck or eyes or whatever is already an obvious target. By making critical targets non-specific, Physiology rolls could become important for pretty much any monster, giving the "monster expert" PCs more spotlight. Without the GM having to invent specific secret weak points every time.

The same with "And Stay Down!": Heavy use of these options would allow more opportunities to employ the expensive Psychology skill. Even if the GM hasn't given a monster interesting mental weaknesses for the skill to detect, a roll could always be useful in predicting what sort of injury (or other trigger) will provoke what "And Stay Down!" reaction ("cower, play dead, flee, or surrender"). The idea, of course, is that players could shoot for just enough violence to achieve that result, instead of instinctively going for the 9d-9 Ice Dagger to the vitals.

(Along those lines, I suppose a GM who uses the explicit categories of fodder, worthy, and boss could use Physiology/Psychology rolls to tell players which category a new monster belongs to. I haven't played this way, but maybe it'd be fun for players who are used to video games that have categories like this.)
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