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Old 10-15-2018, 08:01 AM   #81
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
If the PCs skills matter, you have to specify how difficult various means of influencing the situation are. Those are stats.
That looks like a motte and bailey fallacy. Yes, it's true that if the PCs are going up against an adversary, and neither victory nor defeat is certain, then there has to be some specification of how probable they are to succeed; and in functional terms that might be called "stats." But it's not necessarily the case that that specification is written down in advance; it might be just made up by the GM on the spot when it becomes necessary—that is, the character definition/writeup might not include the list of traits and numbers that is normally called "stats" in GURPS. And even if it is, it might not take the form of a stat block. I mean, for example, I could perfectly well say, "You want to fight Chingis the Barbarian? Okay, make an attack roll with a BAD of -5." That -5 wouldn't be a "stat" in the usual sense (and I might not even be rolling dice for Chingis), but it would certainly be a number defining the foe's capabilities, and I might even have written it down in advance. So would it be a "stat"? In a broad sense, possibly, but in a narrow sense, no.

And this isn't even limited to the capabilities of gods or superpowered adversaries. It could apply just as well to the random orcs or tavern brawlers the PCs run into by chance, who were never written up because the encounter wasn't planned.
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:44 AM   #82
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Default Re: Killing PCs

With regard to PC death, I had generally shied away from them as GM in the past, but over the recent few years most of my players have made it clear that, at least in DF, they like PC deaths, or at least the strong possibility of PC deaths. It adds an element of danger and challenge to the game, and it keeps everyone on their toes.

I never plan the deaths, I just throw really powerful enemies and dangerous situations at the party. They usually find a way to survive despite my best efforts (at this point they're all 500+ points with HT 16+), but once in a while bad dice happen, or the players have terrible tactics, or the enemies focus all their attacks on one PC because he is perceived as the greatest threat. Over ~60 sessions we've had 6 PCs die, one of whom was subsequently resurrected. Three of those deaths occurred when the party was weaker (<200 points) and the margin for error was much smaller. These days I have to work really hard to make death even remotely possible, given how well-prepared the party is for every possible eventuality.
(More ideas for how to actually threaten an ultra-powerful DF party are welcome!)
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:20 AM   #83
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I mean, for example, I could perfectly well say, "You want to fight Chingis the Barbarian? Okay, make an attack roll with a BAD of -5." That -5 wouldn't be a "stat" in the usual sense (and I might not even be rolling dice for Chingis), but it would certainly be a number defining the foe's capabilities, and I might even have written it down in advance. So would it be a "stat"? In a broad sense, possibly, but in a narrow sense, no.
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An example of something I did once. A PC lead a group of security guards against a group of rioters. I impromptu decided to have the PC roll Shortsword and Shield and apply the combined MoS against 3d6 damage. The difference was how much injury his side took (the PC got to determine if they took the brunt of the wounds or the squad did).

The PC at this point had neither Shortsword nor Shield, since this was an 'amnesia' chargen session they got to chose whether they had Shortsword or Shield at DX+4, the other would be at DX (their DX was 14). Through this the Player not only decided whether defense or offense was more important... but what type of leader the Character was (from the front, or from the rear).
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:20 AM   #84
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

As a side-note tot eh side-thread about stats and killing of npcs I may have seen the reverse.

In Paizo's Skull & Shackles Adventure Path there was an encounter where the PC pirates boarded a ship crewed by npcs. The crew fought but the npc Captain didn't. When one of us tried to attack the Captain the GM told us "You can't do that. He has no stats.". The GM was quite bewildered by the whole thing. He certainly had no idea of what stats an npc Captain _should_ have.

I think that the principle we ended up with was that if an entity had no stats it was unable to oppose the PCs in any direct way. So we went up to him and said "Arrr!" and he surrendered.

My general rule is that if I don't want to have an npc die is combat with the PCs I don't have him come in weapons or pursuit range. Some modules have had incorrect ideas abot what that range was too.

In an underwater encounter in one module there was an fishman npc who was about a Sergeant on the Evil npc rank table. He was hovering on the edge of the encounter zone but was not supposed to fight the PCs until the next enounter. He was just there to taunt the PCs. He may have thought he was out of rnage but the PC mage turned into a water eleemntal and not only chased him down but beat him like a red-headed stepchild.

If you don't want your PCs to kil your bad guys, keep them off-stage.
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Old 10-15-2018, 11:28 AM   #85
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
But it's not necessarily the case that that specification is written down in advance; it might be just made up by the GM on the spot when it becomes necessary
I already specified that I don't stat a lot of things up until I need the stats. There's a difference between "stats are missing until I know whether I need them" and "stats are missing because they're irrelevant", though.
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Old 10-15-2018, 12:25 PM   #86
Andreas
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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A lot of players have the mindset that "anything with stats is just a source of XP for me to kill."

As an example: In D&D 3.5, their Planescape book gave the Lady of Pain (basically a plot device for keeping the gods out of the central city, Sigil) stats. At a convention, a table of power gamers made epic-level characters designed to defeat and destroy her. They succeeded because the GM was going "by RAW", which meant going by her stats.

The PCs basically decided to go up and defeat "God", and won because they gave God stats.

I've met dozens of players that are "if it has stats, I know how to counter those stats and kill it." Half of them are able to back that up. This is why for the high-level plot device characters (like Death!) I don't give them stats. Someone somewhere will decide "removing Death from the world/universe will be a good thing", and if Death has stats they will try and half the time succeed! If Death doesn't have stats, then the GM is free to say "okay, you killed a physical manifestation, but Death still lives" when the PCs try the stunt.
Which D&D 3.5 book is that? According to Wikipedia, planescape was discontinued when upon the release of the third edition.

Still, I have heard of some similiar situations, and it boils down to two problems. Firstly, some supposedly really powerful beings are given stats which are way worse than they should be. This is just a matter of the given stats being very bad, which can be problematic for creatures of any power level. This can be solved just be giving reasonable stats to such beings.

Secondly, D&D (at least in some editions, including 3.5) has RAW which allows for ludicrusly powerful characters given the right builds. There is virtually no limit to this. Not giving stats isn't a good solution to this. Not only can such characters reach levels of power which should allow them to challenge plot device level beings, they are actually powerful enough that RAW might allow them to challenge even beings without stats (the ice assassin 3.5 spell for example, which allows you to get loyal copies of any creature with a limitation on targets which can be bypassed in various ways). This can be solved either by changing the rules which makes such overpowered builds possible, or just by the GM not approving such characters.
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Old 10-15-2018, 12:36 PM   #87
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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I already specified that I don't stat a lot of things up until I need the stats. There's a difference between "stats are missing until I know whether I need them" and "stats are missing because they're irrelevant", though.
Well, perhaps. But I think a lot of people are assuming that "has stats" means "has a complete set of standard character-type stats worked out before the character/entity is introduced into play for the first time." And if you're not addressing that (and perhaps you agree that it's not necessarily), then your response may be addressing the verbal form of their statements but not the actual intent.
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Old 10-15-2018, 01:48 PM   #88
Mark Skarr
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Default Re: Killing PCs

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If your goal is a story, you want drama. Randomness can sometimes provide inspiration when you're stuck, but a story isn't just a chain of events -- it has a plot. And randomness is a great way to generate a chain of events, but it will not generate a plot.
Again, sometimes it's hard to get where you're coming from, Anthony. I completely agree with this. However, it seems that you think a plot must be fully detailed, but it doesn't have to be. It's not as hard as many people think to connect strange, seemingly random, events into a coherent narrative--that's how conspiracy theories work after all.

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It needs stats if the expectation is that it can be overcome/exploited/whatever via the tools the game gives you to overcome challenges. This doesn't have to be the case and sometimes leads to lame events (example: D&D campaign I'm in, someone was infected by a curse of lycanthropy. It started on being a bit of a side story -- and then a cleric cast remove curse, and poof, gone). On the other hand, it's somewhat unfair if you give people tools, and then don't let them use those tools.
Again, yes. But, your example is fairly . . . pointless. Sure, in D&D 5E it's a 3rd level cleric spell to remove lycanthropy. And if that's a plot point then the GM used it poorly. But, the issue with drama is that it shouldn't be something that your character sheet can protect you from (spells are listed on the character sheet).

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I don't stat everything out, but that's more about laziness; I'll come up with numbers if it actually matters.
Yeah, sometimes it's hard to see where you're coming from.

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
That looks like a motte and bailey fallacy. Yes, it's true that if the PCs are going up against an adversary, and neither victory nor defeat is certain, then there has to be some specification of how probable they are to succeed; and in functional terms that might be called "stats." But it's not necessarily the case that that specification is written down in advance; it might be just made up by the GM on the spot when it becomes necessary—that is, the character definition/writeup might not include the list of traits and numbers that is normally called "stats" in GURPS. And even if it is, it might not take the form of a stat block. I mean, for example, I could perfectly well say, "You want to fight Chingis the Barbarian? Okay, make an attack roll with a BAD of -5." That -5 wouldn't be a "stat" in the usual sense (and I might not even be rolling dice for Chingis), but it would certainly be a number defining the foe's capabilities, and I might even have written it down in advance. So would it be a "stat"? In a broad sense, possibly, but in a narrow sense, no.

And this isn't even limited to the capabilities of gods or superpowered adversaries. It could apply just as well to the random orcs or tavern brawlers the PCs run into by chance, who were never written up because the encounter wasn't planned.
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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
It's like you are reading my mind.
Yeah, whenever Bill and I are on the same page, it's like he's in my mind elucidating my thoughts in ways I just couldn't. When I grow up, I want to be like him.

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Well, perhaps. But I think a lot of people are assuming that "has stats" means "has a complete set of standard character-type stats worked out before the character/entity is introduced into play for the first time." And if you're not addressing that (and perhaps you agree that it's not necessarily), then your response may be addressing the verbal form of their statements but not the actual intent.
Again, pretty much on the nose.
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Old 10-15-2018, 02:13 PM   #89
whswhs
 
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Yeah, whenever Bill and I are on the same page, it's like he's in my mind elucidating my thoughts in ways I just couldn't. When I grow up, I want to be like him.
Thank you. That's quite a high compliment, and it's appreciated.

Actually, it's a professional skill; for more than thirty years, I have been reading articles and books by scholars in a wide range of fields, and saying to myself, "Okay, that doesn't seem clear. What could they have meant to say in this passage that makes sense, and how can I say it more clearly?"
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Old 10-15-2018, 02:33 PM   #90
sjard
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Default Re: Killing PCs

As this thread is not specifically GURPS related, I have moved it to Roleplaying in General.

Also, a reminder to keep things civil.
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