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Old 10-13-2018, 12:36 AM   #41
Andreas
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Mark Skarr View Post
Plot devices in my games tend not to have sheets or stats.

The actual stats for Asmodeus, the Cosmic Will of the Macroverse, Eessa, Mella, Mr. Smith, the Source, et al. simply don't matter. These are plot devices and, as such, only exist to fulfill a narrative element. In order for the players to do something that directly affects them in any meaningful way would take dedicated effort and could never just happen by chance.

As Hand of Bobb stated (coming in, bearing my kitty): "If you give something stats the PCs will try to kill it."
There are narrative benefits to giving stats for such things. It helps keep their behaviour and capabilities consistent. In some works of fiction, they blatantly change depending on the direction the author wants the plot to go at the time, to the detriment of the quality of the work.

Also, even if the players can't directly affect them through luck alone, stats would help you determine their chance of doing so if they spend dedicated effort on it.

"If you give something stats the PCs will try to kill it." is just a matter of giving them appropriate stats. If you do, then the PCs wouldn't be able to kill things which should be far beyond their ability to affect.
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Old 10-13-2018, 01:24 AM   #42
bert
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

Killing PCs?

If they do something stupid, the dice will determine the outcome.

In a cthulhuoid campaign? All the time.

In a horror setting where death is only the beginning? Well, kind of needed...

But in most cases, very seldomly.
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Old 10-13-2018, 08:16 AM   #43
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
There are narrative benefits to giving stats for such things. It helps keep their behaviour and capabilities consistent. In some works of fiction, they blatantly change depending on the direction the author wants the plot to go at the time, to the detriment of the quality of the work.

Also, even if the players can't directly affect them through luck alone, stats would help you determine their chance of doing so if they spend dedicated effort on it.

"If you give something stats the PCs will try to kill it." is just a matter of giving them appropriate stats. If you do, then the PCs wouldn't be able to kill things which should be far beyond their ability to affect.
Even if they do kill it, a properly designed threat can come back, again and again, until the PCs figure out a different response. Enemies with Unkillable 3, especially with the Cosmic modifer, are nearly impossible to permanently kill, and generally require different strategies (banishment, bargaining, imprisonment, etc.). In a realistic campaign, a threat might be an organization with tens of thousands of members, so killing individual members are a waste of time and resources.
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Old 10-13-2018, 02:39 PM   #44
Mark Skarr
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
There are narrative benefits to giving stats for such things. It helps keep their behaviour and capabilities consistent. In some works of fiction, they blatantly change depending on the direction the author wants the plot to go at the time, to the detriment of the quality of the work.
Comprehensive notes are better than stats for this.

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
Also, even if the players can't directly affect them through luck alone, stats would help you determine their chance of doing so if they spend dedicated effort on it.
If they spend dedicated effort, that really doesn't rely on stats, that's much more narrative. If they're going to invest time and effort, that's a role-playing exercise not just a contested roll.

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
"If you give something stats the PCs will try to kill it." is just a matter of giving them appropriate stats. If you do, then the PCs wouldn't be able to kill things which should be far beyond their ability to affect.
That's an awful justification. If something has listed statistics then the party can just get lucky and take something out, even by accident. Without listed stats, that becomes an impossibility.

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Even if they do kill it, a properly designed threat can come back, again and again, until the PCs figure out a different response. Enemies with Unkillable 3, especially with the Cosmic modifer, are nearly impossible to permanently kill, and generally require different strategies (banishment, bargaining, imprisonment, etc.). In a realistic campaign, a threat might be an organization with tens of thousands of members, so killing individual members are a waste of time and resources.
And enemies without sheets/stats don't have to justify any of this. Anything with game mechanics can be dealt with through other game mechanics. If you want someone or something to be immune, you have to divorce the character from game mechanics.
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:20 PM   #45
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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If they spend dedicated effort, that really doesn't rely on stats, that's much more narrative. If they're going to invest time and effort, that's a role-playing exercise not just a contested roll.
Stats are important for much more than just contested rolls. It tells you how high the capabilities of the foe is compared to the PCs, and thus whether invested time and effort could be enough to give the PCs a chance. Then it also gives you the means to resolve the conflict once the PCs have made their preparations.

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That's an awful justification. If something has listed statistics then the party can just get lucky and take something out, even by accident. Without listed stats, that becomes an impossibility.
No, they can't if the stats are designed to make it impossible for them to take it out even with great luck. For example, no character limited to mundane attacks could kill an Incoporeal spirit. If the concept of the enemy is such that they can't be killed, then just assign the stats accordingly.
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:40 PM   #46
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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When I'm the GM, I don't intentionally make obstacles that are too powerful for the PCs.
I will, occasionally, if they seem necessary to the setting, but I try to make it clear that they are too powerful. This seems to work.
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:50 PM   #47
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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If the GM and Player have agreed that the character should die, and they set up the scenario to help drive the story and give the character a meaningful death, then why shouldn't you plan a death?
I don’t feel that a GM should plan a story, but instead a situation. A GM saying, “Here’s what happens to your character,” when not as a reaction to a player action, ceases to make the game a game but instead a story, and almost always a bad one.
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Old 10-13-2018, 03:53 PM   #48
Mark Skarr
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Andreas View Post
Stats are important for much more than just contested rolls. It tells you how high the capabilities of the foe is compared to the PCs, and thus whether invested time and effort could be enough to give the PCs a chance. Then it also gives you the means to resolve the conflict once the PCs have made their preparations.
Again, this is only an issue if you're generally an inconsistent person and don't take good notes. But, the only matter that "invested time" becomes relevant is if they're making a roll, otherwise, it's a role-playing issue and rolls only become relevant from the PCs perspective not the NPC's.

This is like stating that all enemies should be fully stated and their mechanics spelled out in game rules. When, the fact is, just writing down what they can do and a basic number for the roll is much more useful and relevant.

The issue you bring up, for stories, generally only comes from when you have multiple authors writing stories about the same characters and they have their own interpretation of their abilities.

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No, they can't if the stats are designed to make it impossible for them to take it out even with great luck. For example, no character limited to mundane attacks could kill an Incoporeal spirit. If the concept of the enemy is such that they can't be killed, then just assign the stats accordingly.
If it's an incorporeal spirit, and within the context of the game there is nothing the PCs can ever do about it, then why are its stats relevant? Why would you bother figuring out what all of it's abilities are when you can just write down "incorporeal spirit, unaffected by anything" in your notes and move on?

My notes for Asmodeus are very basic:
Name: Asmodeus
Aliases: Devil on Two Sticks, Abraham Samuel Mo, II, esq.
Position: King of Hell, rules Limbo as well
Wants: [redacted]
Abilities: He's Asmodeus, duh.
Notes:
Usually interacts as a lawyer. Always wins cases (he's the Devil). Friendly and easy going. Terribly against violence as that's antithetical to pleasure. His "clients" can reach him on any phone ("stop calling me on bananas, Heaven!"). Currently holds one of the Terminus Cores, in Limbo, to keep it out of normal reality.

How would stating out one of the Kings of Hell matter? Considering that he's normally an ally of the party (the situations are much more complex than religion would lead you to believe), it's more important to just keep him in the background as a plot device. He doesn't need stats.
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Old 10-13-2018, 04:03 PM   #49
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Mark Skarr View Post
This is like stating that all enemies should be fully stated and their mechanics spelled out in game rules. When, the fact is, just writing down what they can do and a basic number for the roll is much more useful and relevant.
I'm with Mark here. My prep time is limited; taking the time to do stats for everything isn't the best use of it.
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Old 10-13-2018, 04:07 PM   #50
Andreas
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Mark Skarr View Post
Again, this is only an issue if you're generally an inconsistent person and don't take good notes. But, the only matter that "invested time" becomes relevant is if they're making a roll, otherwise, it's a role-playing issue and rolls only become relevant from the PCs perspective not the NPC's.

This is like stating that all enemies should be fully stated and their mechanics spelled out in game rules. When, the fact is, just writing down what they can do and a basic number for the roll is much more useful and relevant.

The issue you bring up, for stories, generally only comes from when you have multiple authors writing stories about the same characters and they have their own interpretation of their abilities.
Did you respond to the right quote here? What you are writing here seems like a response to my earlier post about authors writing inconsistent stories (which you already responded to once before).

Giving every enemy full stats might be exessive, but that is because writing good stats take time. It is not because, having no stats is somehow better.


Quote:
If it's an incorporeal spirit, and within the context of the game there is nothing the PCs can ever do about it, then why are its stats relevant? Why would you bother figuring out what all of it's abilities are when you can just write down "incorporeal spirit, unaffected by anything" in your notes and move on?

My notes for Asmodeus are very basic:
Name: Asmodeus
Aliases: Devil on Two Sticks, Abraham Samuel Mo, II, esq.
Position: King of Hell, rules Limbo as well
Wants: [redacted]
Abilities: He's Asmodeus, duh.
Notes:
Usually interacts as a lawyer. Always wins cases (he's the Devil). Friendly and easy going. Terribly against violence as that's antithetical to pleasure. His "clients" can reach him on any phone ("stop calling me on bananas, Heaven!"). Currently holds one of the Terminus Cores, in Limbo, to keep it out of normal reality.

How would stating out one of the Kings of Hell matter? Considering that he's normally an ally of the party (the situations are much more complex than religion would lead you to believe), it's more important to just keep him in the background as a plot device. He doesn't need stats.
Being an incoporeal spirit is part of the stats! Also, even if the PCs can't hurt it, many other part of its stats could still be important. Is it charismatic? Does it have any magical attacks? Is it good at chess? etc.

There are plenty of things those notes don't tell you about Asmodeus. Whether lacking those things is a significant detriment does of course depend on the particulars of your game.
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