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Old 01-05-2006, 08:28 AM   #121
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Default Re: Whats a Munchkin?

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Originally Posted by Tom Kalbfus
But for those other things you really don't need what's on the character sheet, the rest is just an exercise in acting. Character sheets are mostly designed to handle combat, with its hit points, DR, and Dodge, and your character's skill with each weapon type.
And yet many, probably most, rpgs have non combat oriented traits. Many have some degree of rules for social interactions, even more have rules for mental feats not directly pertaining to combat. I have never encountered and rpg that doesn't have rules for non-combat physical actions.

If the rules of an RPG (and therefore the character sheets) are only for the purpose of combat, why are there all these apparently wasted rules? Why do my players never object if we use mechanics for non-combat actions?
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Old 01-05-2006, 08:38 AM   #122
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Originally Posted by Tom Kalbfus
If it takes a month for a player to introduce a new character into a campaign, then what do you do if a character gets killed? There is no suspense if there is no danger and if there is danger there is a chance that characters may get killed. Do you go soft on them so that players don't have to make new characters? Or do you have frequent and easily available means to bring dead characters back to life in your game?
I haven't had a player character death in years and years. This is kind of ironic, because I don't believe in fudging dice rolls to keep a PC alive, which seems to appall a lot of other gamers. (This is where I start making comparisons to poker—in this case, to playing for small change rather than for chips. I like there to be something real at stake.)

One part of this is that I often run low-combat games. As the most extreme case, my first GURPS campaign, using GURPS Uplift, had only two combat scenes in two years: one space battle and one situation where a PC went into convulsions and had to be restrained and treated.

I can tell you, speaking as a player, that it's possible to be in suspense without combat or physical danger. Some years back, I was in a friend's Changeling: The Dreaming campaign, playing an unseelie coyote pooka. At least twice during the campaign, he had to venture into an underground realm of twisted unseelie ruled by an ogre named Black Annis. There was never any question of fighting; Black Annis's forces were just too powerful. Instead, the suspense was over whether my character's cover story would be penetrated or not. I was on the edge of my seat every minute of those scenes. (Which is part of why that particular GM is my favorite of the local GMs I've played with.)

But if a character did get killed, I would just let the player have their choice: sit out the rest of the session and watch, or leave and come back for the next session with a new character. I would expect them to do the first, though. Given my style of running games, players often sit and watch while other people's characters are on camera and theirs aren't—and mostly seem to find it entertaining.
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Old 01-05-2006, 08:50 AM   #123
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Default Re: Whats a Munchkin?

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Originally Posted by Tom Kalbfus
But for those other things you really don't need what's on the character sheet, the rest is just an exercise in acting. Character sheets are mostly designed to handle combat, with its hit points, DR, and Dodge, and your character's skill with each weapon type. For other types of roleplaying, its mostly just interpersonal interaction, yeah you may role some dice in that, but true social role playing doesn't require dice rolls just common sense.

But in any game where you really have to use whats on your character sheets, there is danger to life and limb.
That seems to suggest that you view "an exercise in acting" as extraneous to the essence of a role-playing game. I don't view it that way. The acting is an essential part of the game; that's why it's called a "role-playing" game.

But what's on the character sheet can be an important part of the exercise in acting. I've mentioned, a couple of times, the "brutal sex" episode in one of my campaigns; well, the brutality came about because the player of the male character looked at the situation, looked at his character sheet, made Will rolls against a couple of his mental disadvantages—and failed both of them badly. That wasn't just "an exercise in acting" or "common sense": he was dealing with the rules-defined risk that his character would behave badly—and he faced up to the risk and played out the consequences of the bad rolls, including wrecking the relationship between his character and the other PC and getting beaten nearly to death in the aftermath, because this player plays by the rules and accepts the risks they impose.

And aside from social interaction, there are cases such as investigation, where you roll to perceive or interpret a clue. That pretty much has to go by things that are on the character sheet; the GM can't expect the player to be a criminologist, or a planetologist, or whatever.
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Old 01-05-2006, 09:37 AM   #124
Tom Kalbfus
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Default Re: Whats a Munchkin?

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Originally Posted by whswhs
I haven't had a player character death in years and years. This is kind of ironic, because I don't believe in fudging dice rolls to keep a PC alive, which seems to appall a lot of other gamers. (This is where I start making comparisons to poker—in this case, to playing for small change rather than for chips. I like there to be something real at stake.)

One part of this is that I often run low-combat games. As the most extreme case, my first GURPS campaign, using GURPS Uplift, had only two combat scenes in two years: one space battle and one situation where a PC went into convulsions and had to be restrained and treated.

I can tell you, speaking as a player, that it's possible to be in suspense without combat or physical danger. Some years back, I was in a friend's Changeling: The Dreaming campaign, playing an unseelie coyote pooka. At least twice during the campaign, he had to venture into an underground realm of twisted unseelie ruled by an ogre named Black Annis. There was never any question of fighting; Black Annis's forces were just too powerful. Instead, the suspense was over whether my character's cover story would be penetrated or not. I was on the edge of my seat every minute of those scenes. (Which is part of why that particular GM is my favorite of the local GMs I've played with.)

But if a character did get killed, I would just let the player have their choice: sit out the rest of the session and watch, or leave and come back for the next session with a new character. I would expect them to do the first, though. Given my style of running games, players often sit and watch while other people's characters are on camera and theirs aren't—and mostly seem to find it entertaining.
Ever consider something called a character tree? The player has two characters, one of which he plays, the other is kept ready to play in the event that the first character is killed. Character trees might be a good idea in a World War II setting, especially if your character is storming the beaches of Normandy. The secondary character simply wanders onto the scene after the primary is killed, the secondary having been cut off from his unit. Perhaps in World War II, the player ought to have two secondary characters as they are liable to be cut down quite often. Always good to be prepared.
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Old 01-05-2006, 09:43 AM   #125
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Originally Posted by whswhs
That seems to suggest that you view "an exercise in acting" as extraneous to the essence of a role-playing game. I don't view it that way. The acting is an essential part of the game; that's why it's called a "role-playing" game.

But what's on the character sheet can be an important part of the exercise in acting. I've mentioned, a couple of times, the "brutal sex" episode in one of my campaigns; well, the brutality came about because the player of the male character looked at the situation, looked at his character sheet, made Will rolls against a couple of his mental disadvantages—and failed both of them badly. That wasn't just "an exercise in acting" or "common sense": he was dealing with the rules-defined risk that his character would behave badly—and he faced up to the risk and played out the consequences of the bad rolls, including wrecking the relationship between his character and the other PC and getting beaten nearly to death in the aftermath, because this player plays by the rules and accepts the risks they impose.

And aside from social interaction, there are cases such as investigation, where you roll to perceive or interpret a clue. That pretty much has to go by things that are on the character sheet; the GM can't expect the player to be a criminologist, or a planetologist, or whatever.
Good points. Even in a World War II setting, not all is combat, though much of it is. I think a player ought to have three 50-point characters, one of which he plays and the others waiting in reserve. and perhaps each German that he kills ought to be worth 2 character points to the player, which he can add on to the character immediately after the battle. The challenge would seem to be if the player can build up a 100-point character by killing 25 German soldiers. A good hand grenade toss might kill several at once. of course the Germans also have their hand grenades. it would really be something if one of the 50-point characters makes it to 100 points.

Another arena with high lethality would be fighter pilots.
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Old 01-05-2006, 09:58 AM   #126
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Originally Posted by Tom Kalbfus
Ever consider something called a character tree? The player has two characters, one of which he plays, the other is kept ready to play in the event that the first character is killed. Character trees might be a good idea in a World War II setting, especially if your character is storming the beaches of Normandy. The secondary character simply wanders onto the scene after the primary is killed, the secondary having been cut off from his unit. Perhaps in World War II, the player ought to have two secondary characters as they are liable to be cut down quite often. Always good to be prepared.
In fact, in my higher-combat campaigns, I often ask players to write up two characters, so that if one of them dies the other will still be on the scene and ready to play. Though I don't necessarily hold the second character in reserve; I may ask the player to switch between the two.

I should note that I have one player who hates having two characters in play, and will refuse to take part in a campaign that requires this. On the other hand, I have four players who are perfectly happy in a campaign where each plays four different characters (a senior noble, an adolescent noble, a soldier, and a servant).
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:08 AM   #127
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Default Re: Whats a Munchkin?

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Originally Posted by Tom Kalbfus
each German that he kills ought to be worth 2 character points to the player, which he can add on to the character immediately after the battle. The challenge would seem to be if the player can build up a 100-point character by killing 25 German soldiers.
*rolls eyes*
Sounds like a video game, not a role playing game.
Gee, I killed something, lets power up, duudududuu.
*grin*

For the type of game you're describing, you don't want to be using a role-playing game's rules, you want to use wargaming rules.

Killing something gives you *no* experience in GURPS, which is a very, very good thing. Any muchkin bait game which gives experience for killing something is more like a videogame than a roleplaying game in that respect.
Whenever I run D&D one of the first things I do is eliminate the munchkin experience award for killing stuff.

Getting back on theme, Munchkins are the type of people who think killing things gives their characters experience, and usually look for that easy kill to go up a level. *bseg*
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:14 AM   #128
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Good points. Even in a World War II setting, not all is combat, though much of it is.
This is the kind of response I think many people are looking for from you.

A number of your past posts have said things that sounded like, "There is only one way to game, and this is it." And that gives the impression that you either are not very experienced as a gamer, or not very experienced except with one play style or system—or very doctrinaire about gaming. Because many of the people taking part in these discussions have played in more than one style, and even more have learned about people who play in styles very different from theirs, and thus are less likely to assume that their preferences are universal truths.

Over on the Pyramid boards, Chad Underkoffler coined the phrase "hurting wrong fun" for people who don't merely object to playing in a certain way themselves, but object to other people playing in that way, even if those other people enjoy doing so. It's a useful phrase.

No one objects in the slightest to your having preferences about how to game. But some of the reactions you've been getting are from people who've gotten the impression that you don't accept their right to have different preferences—that you consider their different preferences to be hurting wrong fun. (See for one example your discussion of including sexual content in RPGs.) If you make it more explicit that you are expressing your personal preferences, you may get less argumentative responses, and less of people explaining to you over and over that it's all a matter of personal taste.

And learning about how other people like to game is always informative, even if you don't want to do it the same way. Or so I find it, at least.
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:19 AM   #129
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My take on powergaming/metagaming/munching is this:

I like characters to be built kind of like a bell curve. They have one area that they are really good at, but then several others they get by at, and several others they are only familiar with. This gives them tools to work with in almost any situation. They have a collection of pegs for whatever shape hole I put in front of them.

A munchkin's curve is a vertical line. They have 1 peg, and it's the GMs fault if that one peg doesn't always fit the problem at hand.

An example of this would be the "combat twink". He has disads like no sense of humor, on the edge, stuff that gives him reaction penalties, etc. He cripples every aspect of his character not related to "move...aim...shoot...repeat"

A good roleplayer would look at this character and see handicaps to be overcome. His overcoming the obsticles that his past put in front of him make for a great story.

A munchkin says "what handicaps? I shoot people. <shrug>"

I gun for characters like this as GM. I take great pleasure in introducing them to law enforcement in (initially) non-confrontational settings. Shooting a cop is often like kicking an anthill. With 8-foot ants.

"Knock Knock... I am detective Smith, and this is detective Jones. we are investigating some recent burgularies in the area and were wondering if we could talk with you about them."

...3 minutes of awkward RP later...

"MAN DOWN! MAN DOWN! I NEED BACKUP! SEND SWAT! SEND EVERYBO-urk..."

<evil grin from GM>
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Old 01-05-2006, 10:21 AM   #130
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Over on the Pyramid boards, Chad Underkoffler coined the phrase "hurting wrong fun" for people who don't merely object to playing in a certain way themselves, but object to other people playing in that way, even if those other people enjoy doing so. It's a useful phrase.
Huh - don't recall if I first saw that one used by Chad on Pyramid, but I've certainly seen it used in other contexts since, and more frequently to refer to something the *speaker* finds fun but recognizes would really mess with most peoples' heads to think about...
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