Rez
 member, 3569 posts
 So....yeah...sure.....
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 19:35
Re: The price of defeat
Oh he was not civil about it. He was upset and we were about to fight a Sith.

We all know he could fight one handed and was good with it plus the Sith had everyone else to deal with.

He played a serious Togruta Jedi Guardian. We had others who could pilot effectively or even better. He was the groups 'tank' so to speak. I played the groups 'scoundrel' so to speak. And we had a tech specialist with a droid. Someone else played as well but not sure what he was.

And it would have taken some time to get his arm 'fixed' but it was possible.

It happened just before the fight and honestly he throw a hissyfit. Its a game. Bad things happen. He was a Jedi but deciding not to play right before fighting a Sith which goes against his character? Everyone talked to him about it and he didn't care. I think he was very focused on his char and his abilities. Heck he had force powers, could fight better then any of us....

Anyways. My 2 cents. If I got a character that lost a limb, I would deal with it and find a way to fix it if possible. Or play around it. :)

This message was last edited by the user at 19:37, Thu 16 Mar.

engine
 member, 263 posts
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 19:48
Re: The price of defeat
Rez:
Oh he was not civil about it. He was upset and we were about to fight a Sith.
Well, there's no excuse for that.

Rez:
Its a game. Bad things happen.
Not everything that happens in a game, particularly the bad things, are going to be fun for everyone, and not everyone will cope with them in the same way.

I'm not defending this guy, because it sounds like he was not nice about it, but he potentially has a point.

Rez:
He was a Jedi but deciding not to play right before fighting a Sith which goes against his character?
As you say, it's just a game. It sounds like he had out-of-game concerns that meant more to him.

Rez:
Everyone talked to him about it and he didn't care. I think he was very focused on his char and his abilities. Heck he had force powers, could fight better then any of us....
Yeah, a heavy focus on his character would tend to explain it.

A few more questions if you don't mind. I find this stuff fascinating:

I know it's Star Wars, but had limbs been cut off at other times? That is, did he know this was something that happened in this game? You didn't mention whether he took issue with how the mechanics played out or how the GM ruled, so it seems like he thought it was a fair outcome, just not one he wanted to cope with.

Had the game been going well for him up to then? Was he on-track to finish without a scratch?

Was the one who took his hand a significant foe, or just a scrub?

He could still fight, but could he take on this Sith you were about to face?

Was he a generally reasonable otherwise?

Thanks for letting me pester you.

Rez:
Anyways. My 2 cents. If I got a character that lost a limb, I would deal with it and find a way to fix it if possible. Or play around it. :)
Sure, and so would a lot of people. But not every player finds every consequence worth coping with. I think everyone has something that, if it happened to their character and even if it was iconic to the setting and didn't appreciably hurt the character's effectiveness, they'd rather not keep playing that character.
Rez
 member, 3570 posts
 So....yeah...sure.....
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 20:02
Re: The price of defeat
Basically he acted like he was unstoppable and when he found out he could die-he bailed. Everyone was upset towards him after the game and he knew it.

Actually, no. The DM asked us if we get crit we could take the damage OR lose a limb.

He decided to lose the limb. The DM did it randomly and off came his hand.

Also he had ambidexterity/two-weapon fighting so it really didn't matter.

As for the Sith, he felt only he could take him on and ignored the group. My char could have done some damage and so could the tech specialist and droid but apprently he didn't care.

Overall in game? Yes. My character was a blood carver scoundrel/assasin working for the Jedi (this happened in the Old Jedi era).

Instead of making a new character, he bailed fully but later on when we decided to play a Wheel of Time game, he joined up.
horus
 member, 97 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 20:31
Re: The price of defeat
From my own experience, if a character is not killed outright there should at least be a path back to their former self, but older and wiser, or a path forward to a different but more satisfying outcome for the character and the player.

I've played for some GMs that were real {expletive self-censored} about it - folks who considered their day made when they got to inflict a TPK on a party.  Such individuals typically didn't hold my interest for long if that was all their games were to them.

I've played for GMs who couldn't bring themselves to kill when players richly deserved it.  I started out in that number.  (I've always been more about role-play than roll, prey.)

The worst of the lot, though, are those who maim or mutilate players beyond redemption then laugh and leave them to work out their own salvation.

From the GM's side of the field, I've been the guy who just couldn't say, "No".  A heart-to-heart talk from a fellow GM helped set me straight.  My players actually cheered my first kill in the session after that.  (I dragged an irresistible delayed action trap across the path of a problematic thief character whose interpretation of NG as an alignment was "Neutral Greedy".  The best part of it was he did it to himself...)

That brings me to this pass:  for every brush with Death there must be a way of escape, if only the player(s) involved have the discernment to find it.  For every maimed and mutilated character out there, there must be a way to move forward that will meet the player's needs - it's actually kinder for the character to die outright than to present the player with a character the GM knows they will no longer wish to play.

We're all here to have fun.  I firmly believe that's one of the reasons resurrection and reincarnation exist in so many fantasy settings.  It's the reason that a deadly game like Paranoia permits each character to have six clones.

Some wag somewhere (and I'm not sure I know who said it first) that how we die is equally important as how we live.  Characters who face certain death nobly and in the hope it will spare the lives of some or all of their comrades bring much to the game.  Characters who go howling down to a well-deserved defeat can also bring much.  It's all in how we play our games.
Mrrshann618
 member, 110 posts
Thu 16 Mar 2017
at 23:13
Re: The price of defeat
The loss of a hand is a common theme in many avenues of entertainment, and in each instance there was a "Way back".

Star Wars - Luke gets a new cybernetic/robotic hand
Ash (Evil Dead) - Lops his own hand off at the wrist and attaches a chainsaw
Captain Hook - Well, he has a hook for his hand.
Corum - looses an eye AND a hand, gets demonic replacements

There are several comic book characters that loose some sort of limb and go on to become better.

Personally turning around without even attempting to see if it would "improve" the character seems a bit off. I understand that some people only play to "win". But isn't RP/RPG's about conflict and conflict resolution in some manner? Doesn't each event that a character overcomes increase the story of the character?
engine
 member, 264 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 00:24
Re: The price of defeat
I'm not quite clear which answer goes with which question, but I'll do my best.

Rez:
Basically he acted like he was unstoppable and when he found out he could die-he bailed. Everyone was upset towards him after the game and he knew it.
This seems like the core of it: He didn't know or didn't believe that what happened could happen. I don't know how it was conveyed to him, or whether it was, but it seems like he believed the GM was bluffing.

Rez:
Actually, no. The DM asked us if we get crit we could take the damage OR lose a limb.

He decided to lose the limb. The DM did it randomly and off came his hand.
This confuses me a little. The choices seem to be: take a lot of damage or lose one of four limbs. Unless the damage would kill the character risking a maiming seems strange. And in any case, he seems to have gotten one of the two results that let him at least stay mobile. I think a lot fewer people would enjoy playing a character who couldn't really walk.

Rez:
Also he had ambidexterity/two-weapon fighting so it really didn't matter.
That seems like it would make it matter more since he invested in a skill set that is now partially useless. In D&D, that could mean a half-dozen feats or more, a focus on one ability score, and extra money spent on a second good weapon.

Thanks again for answering my questions. It seems like a calm talk with the guy (if possible) might have revealed a relatable reason for his reaction, but maybe not. I myself have known to be contrary and rude after a minor displeasure.

horus:
From my own experience, if a character is not killed outright there should at least be a path back to their former self, but older and wiser, or a path forward to a different but more satisfying outcome for the character and the player.
Generally, I agree. I like it in stories and games when there's the possibility for irrevocable change. Leia's failures led to the destruction of Alderaan and she didn't really have a way back to who she had been, once that occurred. But, of course, not everyone enjoys irrevocable consequences.

horus:
From the GM's side of the field, I've been the guy who just couldn't say, "No".  A heart-to-heart talk from a fellow GM helped set me straight.  My players actually cheered my first kill in the session after that.
This really highlights that it's about what people are interested in, and bought into. These players were glad that you'd killed one of them. It was an obvious failure for the character, but it improved the game for these players. What you describe doesn't sound like how I'd want my characters to die, and another group might hate that there was a party death at all, but it worked well for your group in this mmoment.

horus:
That brings me to this pass:  for every brush with Death there must be a way of escape, if only the player(s) involved have the discernment to find it.  For every maimed and mutilated character out there, there must be a way to move forward that will meet the player's needs - it's actually kinder for the character to die outright than to present the player with a character the GM knows they will no longer wish to play.
I cringe at the suggestion that all that's needed is for the escape to exist. I've seen too many GMs abdicate their role in the enjoyment of their fellow gamers by washing their hands of their failures, because the players didn't figure something out. Again, some players feel that that's righteous, but I wouldn't bet on anyone feeling that way.

It also implies that every situation should have a way to "solve" it. Some switch, real or metaphorical, that if they find it and flick it the challenge is ended happily. I feel this doesn't account for situations that have an element of randomnees, such as dice-influenced combat. The chance to win might slip away without the PCs really doing anything wrong. Then the GM better hope that the failure mode is something everyone will find interesting, because it's on its way.

And keep in mind that this is not just about death and maiming. To refer back to Princess Leia: she doesn't get wounded until Return of the Jedi, but she suffers loss (often permanent) and setback at a nearly constant rate throughout the movies. And when she is wounded, it's not severe.

A player's character is generally going to be the thing they care most about, but it's also their interface with the game. Damaging it or putting it out of commission can amount to removing the player from play in a substantial way.

horus:
We're all here to have fun.
Yes, by playing the game. Being removed from play, means the player is not playing the game, and it's hard to expect that to be fun for them.

horus:
I firmly believe that's one of the reasons resurrection and reincarnation exist in so many fantasy settings.
Indisputably. But plenty of groups constrain those options severely, to bring about the kinds of failure they enjoy.

horus:
Some wag somewhere (and I'm not sure I know who said it first) that how we die is equally important as how we live.  Characters who face certain death nobly and in the hope it will spare the lives of some or all of their comrades bring much to the game.  Characters who go howling down to a well-deserved defeat can also bring much.  It's all in how we play our games.
Yes, but both of those examples assume that the player is bought in to what's happening to their character. If the noble character happy about having his moral code come calling? Does the howler agree that this defeat is "well-deserved"?"

Assuming the noble character is bought-in, I'll note that death is not failure for that character in that situation. Failure would be death for everyone but them. Just in case I hadn't made my point about how "failure" is not a synonym for "death."

Mrrshann618:
Personally turning around without even attempting to see if it would "improve" the character seems a bit off. I understand that some people only play to "win". But isn't RP/RPG's about conflict and conflict resolution in some manner? Doesn't each event that a character overcomes increase the story of the character?
Even if that is what it's about, the point remains that not all conflicts and resolutions are interesting to everyone.

Your examples are fine, but they miss the point. If someone doesn't enjoy having their character's hand cut off - well, they shouldn't assume the GM is bluffing about cutting it off, but - none of those examples are likely to change their mind. This thread is about how to make the "bitter pill" sweeter. Almost certainly your fellow player is going to be aware of your examples, so bringing them up probably isn't helping. Just because a maiming was cool in some instances doesn't mean it always is, or ever is for some people.

Without knowing why someone doesn't like something, and assuming they're just not thinking about it in the right light, I don't see such a situation really going anywhere.

Besides which, the whole thing can potentially be avoided if the GM and players understand what kinds of failures they think are cool and which they don't.
horus
 member, 99 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 02:00
Re: The price of defeat
In reply to engine (msg # 32):

I think we are all dancing to the same music, but maybe some of us are taking different steps in the dance.

Where we disagree may mainly be my failure to express adequately (my old mind tends to wander and digress....).

A lot of it boils down to a clear understanding among all members of a group, players and GM alike, and some maturity and civility at the table, especially when things do not go "your way".  (It's, if anything, even more important for the GM than for the players.)

Part of the GM's responsibility is to make the action at least somewhat believable, to get his/her players so immersed in the setting and their roles that they feel what is happening in the game to an extent.  Set also the expectations, and the rules of play as clearly as possible where they vary from the system in use.

I didn't mean to imply there was a secret switch that could be flipped in every case (even if, in review, it looks like that's what I did).  Sometimes avoiding difficulty is just what real adventurers should do.  To quote an old Discordian proverb:  Grasshopper always wrong in argument with Chicken.  Other times, because of the sequence of events, they may not even have that option.

You're entirely correct in your statement regarding what happens once the action starts.  Death of one or more characters may become inevitable depending on what and how many they face.  The dice fall how they may.  A competent GM will help make sense of what happened, though, and try to give the players a fair shake through it all.  How the characters die, how their players handle their deaths, will depend in large part on the believability of the situation.

There are GMs who enforce a strict "no tap-backs" policy on player actions because they want their players to think before speaking.  Me?  I'm the guy who will sometimes ask, "Hey, did you say that in-character?  Are you certain?" just to confirm I heard what I thought I heard before locking an action in and reacting to it.  (Yeah, I'm aware that, in so doing, I create a Schrodinger's Cat situation that gives the player some wiggle room - that's why I don't always do it.  Above all, I try to be fair.)

I also didn't mean to imply that a GM who lives by the creed of Karma always has clean hands.  It's all too easy as GM to withhold information players should have because "they didn't ask" or, "they didn't look" and let them twist or flail when common sense argues otherwise.  It's all too easy to take what players say in jest as their next action and then chant that "no tap-backs" rule.  It is a game, and games should have easily understandable rules and codes of conduct.  The GM is more than a combat engine - he or she brings fairness and rightness to the game.

Our environment here at RPoL helps greatly in separating OOC from IC actions and words if a GM knows how to organize a game.  Again, it's about setting clear expectations.

Yes, there are players in every group who play "to win", to become as powerful and as wealthy as they can, or to kill another player's character at every session to savor the schadenfreude.  We call these by many names, most of which have unpleasant connotations.

There are ways and there are ways of dealing with this, just as there are ways and there are ways of dealing with character death or debilitating permanent injury.
Mrrshann618
 member, 111 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 02:05
Re: The price of defeat
engine:
Rez:
Actually, no. The DM asked us if we get crit we could take the damage OR lose a limb.

He decided to lose the limb. The DM did it randomly and off came his hand.
This confuses me a little. The choices seem to be: take a lot of damage or lose one of four limbs. Unless the damage would kill the character risking a maiming seems strange. And in any case, he seems to have gotten one of the two results that let him at least stay mobile. I think a lot fewer people would enjoy playing a character who couldn't really walk.


This is the crux of my comment. What did the player expect? would a foot be any worse? By choosing to loose a limb they were voluntarily placing those feats at risk. This was a voluntary situation. This places the example of the instances I gave as a plausible end goal for the character.

Now I know no GM or player can read minds. However "pouting" about getting your choice is makes me say "it is a bit off"
Novocrane
 member, 327 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 02:08
Re: The price of defeat
I'm just surprised no one thought, "Hey, you could strap your light sabre to your stump until you get an opportunity to do something else."

engine:
The people complaining felt like there was no risk. This was part of what made me realize that there were and are gamers who really enjoy the game when their characters can and do die.

At least in theory. I've had trouble pinning down people on how often they think character death should occur, and how often it has occurred for them, and what exactly they enjoy about their character actually dying. In a lot of cases I get the impression that the person wants death to be possible, but primarily only if a player is "foolish," which can mean always charging into combat, or taking on excessively powerful foes, or not taking basic precautions. They themselves would never do those things, but if they did their character would die and they would all but rejoice in that, because things would be as they should. Death is for other people.
Can't speak for anyone else, and it doesn't feel appropriate for all games, but I want (for instance) Only War to be more of a meatgrinder in pbp than it otherwise might be. Being on a massive scale battlefield is foolish, and characters are going to die. The last OW game I was in, I wholly expected my first character to die when caught in the open under enemy sights. Bullets pinged off their armour, blades did tiny amounts of damage, and the result was unexpectedly like being hit with nerf weapons. The props on a stage fight were revealed for what they were, and my dive to prone under enemy fire seemed foolish and overreacting by comparison.

"Don't worry, enemy damage will go up when you upgrade your gear!" ... everything clicked together at that point; the player that mentioned even 'regular' death would only be every few weeks, group preoccupation with reducing damage (I thought we'd be facing tougher opponents for sure at that), etc. There would never be a landing at space-Normandy. No Black Hawk Down-esque death spirals as more troops are thrown at a situation. 'Friendly' artillery fire was never going to scatter onto our position before we switched to another squad or regiment. A glut of personalised gear meant we'd never need to use an ally to climb over razor wire. The group was more comfortable turning the page back to D&D after the initial pre-game enthusiasm.

This message was last edited by the user at 03:56, Fri 17 Mar.

facemaker329
 member, 6897 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 03:45
Re: The price of defeat
A lot of it comes down to expectations...at least, in my mind and experience.

Case in point...back in college, I was sharing a house with a bunch of other people.  We were all gamers.  Luckily, one guy really liked running games, since most of the rest of us preferred playing, so he was kind of the designated GM.

This resulted in us playing a wide spectrum of games...but for purposes of this discussion, I'll focus on two.  We played a lot of Star Wars (the old D6, WEG rules, back when they were still in print), and we also played a D6 adaptation of Aliens.  Aliens is, I think, the only game I've ever played where they specifically state that all players should start with multiple characters...because people are going to die.  Ironically, the only character to survive that group was our sergeant...who broke her ankle getting out of the APC while it was still moving.  And, initially, she was really frustrated by that...until it became apparent that the only reason the mission was going to succeed was because she could make it back to the ship to nuke the site from orbit.

But we all knew, going into the game, that characters would, indeed, die.  And they did, some of them gloriously, and some of them with little more that a surprised cry before it was too late (I had a heavy gunner who took rear-guard as the squad was getting out of an elevator, and an alien jumped on top of the car just as it was stopping.  When the squad came back around, all they found was one foot and a bit of the leg above the ankle, on the edge of a smoking, acid-burned hole in the floor of the elevator...)  So, nobody freaked out about dying...it became kind of a contest, of sorts, to see who could have the most heroic, cinematic death (Corporal Hudson would have fit right in with our group...)

Same group, same players, same GM...Star Wars.  I don't think any of us played with the thought that 'I can't die in this game', but we also understood that, short of gross stupidity on the part of the player, the odds of dying were incredibly slim...because it's not that kind of game.  We could have turned it into one, had we so desired...but if we wanted a lot of bloodshed and death and disfigurement, we played Aliens (or Dark Conspiracy, which had its own twisted way of handling things...)

So...it's not necessarily about the game.  Or the GM.  Or the players. As long as everyone's on the same page, going into the game, and has the same expectations of what can happen...then you'll end up with players (assuming they're honest about it) who are going to play their character through good times and bad.  But if they aren't expecting 'bad times' to be an option, having them come up can feel like a betrayal of trust, of sorts..."This isn't what I signed on to play!"  By the same token, just because you, as GM, have said that 'bad times' are possible, don't try to create situations to inflict them...they should come along as naturally as the good times, and if the players are smart enough or lucky enough to avoid them, let it unfold that way (one of my favorite GMs skipped almost half a published adventure, one time, because someone in the group was smart enough to search, specifically, for a method to prevent the creation of the scenario that the second half of the adventure was built around...not through any familiarity with the storyline, just...the group was that thorough about covering their tracks.  The flipside, however, was that one of the characters in the group wound up being on the top-ten most wanted list for the Empire, because he did NOT take any kind of preventive measures and was therefore the only person in the group identified in association with the events...)

Some people turn to RPGs for escapism, and they don't want that kind of 'bad' in their RPG life.  And there's nothing wrong with that...it's the way they want to play.  If that's not the way you, as a GM, run your game, you should make that known up front, so they (and you) aren't disappointed when it comes along.
engine
 member, 265 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 04:56
Re: The price of defeat
horus:
A lot of it boils down to a clear understanding among all members of a group, players and GM alike, and some maturity and civility at the table, especially when things do not go "your way".  (It's, if anything, even more important for the GM than for the players.)
I think what I'm poking at is that it's possible for a game to consist almost entirely of different "ways" that would all be interesting to the players, if not the characters. No one necessarily has to encounter an outcome that they don't enjoy.

horus:
I didn't mean to imply there was a secret switch that could be flipped in every case (even if, in review, it looks like that's what I did).  Sometimes avoiding difficulty is just what real adventurers should do.
Well, sort of. If one was going to be real about it, there wouldn't be any adventurers, not in the usual Tolkienish way. The premise of most games is preposterous, because without that it's just real life.

"What real adventurers should do" is not always the driving force. "Is it interesting while being plausible" is more what I go for, and what I hope my players go for.

horus:
How the characters die, how their players handle their deaths, will depend in large part on the believability of the situation.
Arguably. It's important to realize that how believable something is has a lot to do with how much the players want it to be believable. For some, Star Trek is ridiculous, and so every dramatic moment is also ridiculous. There are those that do vast amounts of work to fill in what the show doesn't, because they want it to be believable. They're bought in.

horus:
Me?  I'm the guy who will sometimes ask, "Hey, did you say that in-character?  Are you certain?" just to confirm I heard what I thought I heard before locking an action in and reacting to it.
My ideal (not always achievable) is that the GM doesn't need to ask that, because the players are interested in every outcome the GM might deliver - not because they are interested in every possible outcome, but because the GM will only deliver interesting outcomes (for whatever that means at a given table).

horus:
The GM is more than a combat engine - he or she brings fairness and rightness to the game.
Agreed. RPGs work because they are tailorable, on the fly.

horus:
Yes, there are players in every group who play "to win", to become as powerful and as wealthy as they can, or to kill another player's character at every session to savor the schadenfreude.  We call these by many names, most of which have unpleasant connotations.
They don't have to be considered problematic, necessarily. I believe that unless a person is a sociopath, there is a type of game they would buy into and help make work, and other likeminded people to join them. There are games, or at least approaches to games, that are about "winning" and becoming as powerful and wealthy as they can

horus:
here are ways and there are ways of dealing with this, just as there are ways and there are ways of dealing with character death or debilitating permanent injury.
Or of making the stakes about something else entirely.

Mrrshann618:
This is the crux of my comment. What did the player expect? would a foot be any worse? By choosing to loose a limb they were voluntarily placing those feats at risk. This was a voluntary situation. This places the example of the instances I gave as a plausible end goal for the character.
Oh, I see. My apologies. I hope that part gets explained a bit further.

Novocrane:
Can't speak for anyone else, and it doesn't feel appropriate for all games, but I want (for instance) Only War to be more of a meatgrinder in pbp than it otherwise might be.
This was a great example, thanks. Sometimes if the game isn't brutal, that's what's disappointing. This is important to realize.

I think that some games, particularly the various incarnations of D&D, have in their attempts to be broadly appealing, not made adequately clear what their intent was. I know that when I started, I saw that everything had stats to let you know how hard it was to kill and how much it could hurt you, and so I assumed that the game was primarily about fighting various things. But that was only part of it, and so my group and I had to adjust some things, like starting hit points, to make the game do better what we thought it had been designed to do.

Years later, I was keyed into the concept that, no, it's not about fighting everything, but about picking one's battles, maybe not fighting at all, and making off with the treasure, which tended to be a richer source of XP anyway. I'm not entirely convinced that that was the whole intent either, but my point is that people can read the same set of rules and come away with drastically different ideas of how its designers meant it to be played.

I can't really think of a single game older than about 2005 that does much in the way of addressing what we're talking about here. WEG Star Wars talked a lot about tone and fudging and making the players sweat before ultimately succeeding and surviving. It wasn't until 4th Edition D&D that the DMG suggested, hey, maybe set things up so that the PCs can fail, but that failure doesn't bring things to a screeching halt.

If just one of the games I played early on had said something like "Characters are expected to die and here's how we intend for that not to ruin the fun" instead of patching things with Raise Dead and leaving it for each table to figure it out, I think I would be a lot less frustrated with this hobby.

facemaker329:
But we all knew, going into the game, that characters would, indeed, die.
...
Same group, same players, same GM...Star Wars.  I don't think any of us played with the thought that 'I can't die in this game', but we also understood that, short of gross stupidity on the part of the player, the odds of dying were incredibly slim...because it's not that kind of game.
Two great examples. Thanks. The Aliens game sounds like it worked in part because there wasn't (correct me if I'm wrong) much sting to death. You knew not to get attached, and though you fought hard, you let them go when the game called for it. Do I have that right?00

facemaker329:
By the same token, just because you, as GM, have said that 'bad times' are possible, don't try to create situations to inflict them...they should come along as naturally as the good times, and if the players are smart enough or lucky enough to avoid them, let it unfold that way
Maybe. I think we've seen here that that varies. A suicide mission seems entirely appropriate for Only War. The players can approach it cleverly, and probably would have to in order to succeed, but there would be no way not to make it a suicide mission. That would be baked in, and the players (if they understood the game) would eagerly shepherd it in, when it was time.

If players are maxing out their cleverness to avoid there being a real likelihood of "bad things," that's usually when I pause the game to find out what kinds of "bad things" would they spend less effort on trying to avoid, so I can prepare those instead of the stuff they keep sidestepping.

facemaker329:
Some people turn to RPGs for escapism, and they don't want that kind of 'bad' in their RPG life.  And there's nothing wrong with that...it's the way they want to play.  If that's not the way you, as a GM, run your game, you should make that known up front, so they (and you) aren't disappointed when it comes along.
Agreed. I think most of us are in violent agreement here. I like wrestling with the ideas, though.
facemaker329
 member, 6899 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 05:56
Re: The price of defeat
You are correct about Aliens...but, then again, the explicit direction to start with at least two characters (many of us had three) was kind of a really big hint that we should expect to say goodbye to most of them.  Plus, we'd all seen the movie (repeatedly)...we knew what happened to the Marines that landed there.  I can't speak for anyone else that was playing, but I approached the game more like Space Hulk, if you've ever played that...

The friend who introduced me to it gave me some great advice as we were setting up for my very first game..."Play to accomplish the mission, not survive.  If you accomplish the mission, you win.  If you play to survive, you won't accomplish the mission and you'll die anyway."  That's kind of carried forward into most of the rest of my gaming...I just tend to accomplish missions in ways that leave the GM saying, "Well, yeah...there's no reason that shouldn't work.  Okay...you get away clean," or at least without losing any major body parts.  Most of the time...*grin*

RE: suicide missions...if that's what the mission is laid out to be, then the bad stuff I'm talking about IS a natural part of the development.  I'm talking about things like a GM saying, "That was too easy, the dice were really lucky and they shouldn't be able to walk away clean from this...so here's another fifty bad guys who are armed to the teeth and more experienced that all the guys you just wiped out.  They probably won't kill you..." (yes, I've had vindictive GMs throw random crap at me in the past...)

If I'm sneaking around a Star Destroyer (staying with my preferred setting), I expect a lot of security checkpoints, random traffic, etc...and if I botch a check and/or fail to take precautions, I expect to face a whole lotta trouble.  But if I was smart enough to shanghai the first stormtrooper I came across and dump his body out an airlock after relieving him of his armor, I don't expect every Imperial officer I pass to demand an ID check.  That's the kind of thing I'm talking about...if it makes sense for grim and frightful things to happen, let them happen...but don't MAKE them happen just because you don't think the situation is grim enough.  If the players were smart enough to find a way to get half the party back from the suicide mission, don't have them suddenly wander into a minefield just to keep the threat level high (unless they had to cross it on the way in...if they forgot it was there, it's their own fault.)  That's the point I'm trying to make.  Most GMs I've seen are really good about it...but I've crossed paths with a few who just...wanted the PCs to be miserable, apparently, or wanted them dead.  And that sucks the fun right out of the game, when there's no plausible reason for your character to be locked up right away...and then shot.  (Yes, I was in a game where the entirety of my one-week tenure was spent trying to explain that I was NOT a mutineer, to a military officer who didn't even check my ID to verify who I was before he ordered me shot.  Suffice it to say, I didn't stick around to try my luck with another character.)
horus
 member, 101 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 06:20
Re: The price of defeat
engine:
I think what I'm poking at is that it's possible for a game to consist almost entirely of different "ways" that would all be interesting to the players, if not the characters. No one necessarily has to encounter an outcome that they don't enjoy.


Again, yeah, we agree in spirit.  Part of being a good GM is the ability to think on one's feet and use all the tools to provide a rich experience in the game.

engine:
Well, sort of. If one was going to be real about it, there wouldn't be any adventurers, not in the usual Tolkienish way. The premise of most games is preposterous, because without that it's just real life.


I get that, but I'm primarily a science-fiction gamer so maybe it's a difference of perspective?  (I have done fantasy in the past, but it's not my first choice.)

engine:
"What real adventurers should do" is not always the driving force. "Is it interesting while being plausible" is more what I go for, and what I hope my players go for.


I use the word "real" advisedly.  You know, as in "real men of genius"? (blink, blink)

engine:
Arguably. It's important to realize that how believable something is has a lot to do with how much the players want it to be believable. For some, Star Trek is ridiculous, and so every dramatic moment is also ridiculous. There are those that do vast amounts of work to fill in what the show doesn't, because they want it to be believable. They're bought in.


Yeah, I get that.  It's surprising, though, how just a little "grit in the gears" will make things seem more "real".  That's a matter of set dressing, though.

engine:
horus:
Me?  I'm the guy who will sometimes ask, "Hey, did you say that in-character?  Are you certain?" just to confirm I heard what I thought I heard before locking an action in and reacting to it.
My ideal (not always achievable) is that the GM doesn't need to ask that, because the players are interested in every outcome the GM might deliver - not because they are interested in every possible outcome, but because the GM will only deliver interesting outcomes (for whatever that means at a given table).


Yeah, I try to minimize occurrences where I have to ask, but I'm not afraid to do it if I feel the need to.  We are pretty much close enough to agree on most points here.

engine:
horus:
Yes, there are players in every group who play "to win", to become as powerful and as wealthy as they can, or to kill another player's character at every session to savor the schadenfreude.  We call these by many names, most of which have unpleasant connotations.
They don't have to be considered problematic, necessarily. I believe that unless a person is a sociopath, there is a type of game they would buy into and help make work, and other likeminded people to join them. There are games, or at least approaches to games, that are about "winning" and becoming as powerful and wealthy as they can.


You're right, of course.  Sometimes it's fun to let things run wild and free for a while, depending on how much tolerance the other players have for it.  I only consider a player problematic if their behavior affects the enjoyment of others adversely on a consistent basis.  Does that sound like a good objective criterion?

engine:
horus:
There are ways and there are ways of dealing with this, just as there are ways and there are ways of dealing with character death or debilitating permanent injury.
Or of making the stakes about something else entirely.


Steel sharpens steel, friend.  That's a line worthy of some contemplation. Thanks.

engine:
Mrrshann618:
This is the crux of my comment. What did the player expect? would a foot be any worse? By choosing to loose a limb they were voluntarily placing those feats at risk. This was a voluntary situation. This places the example of the instances I gave as a plausible end goal for the character.
Oh, I see. My apologies. I hope that part gets explained a bit further.


Yes, that's an interesting line of discussion.  I wonder, though, did this particular player even stop to consider impact to feats before making the decision?

Lots of other good stuff merged in this post, and my compliments to all participating.  Well Done!
engine
 member, 266 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 06:40
Re: The price of defeat
facemaker329:
I approached the game more like Space Hulk, if you've ever played that...
Yes, I have. That's a good example for this thread.

facemaker329:
The friend who introduced me to it gave me some great advice as we were setting up for my very first game..."Play to accomplish the mission, not survive.  If you accomplish the mission, you win.  If you play to survive, you won't accomplish the mission and you'll die anyway."  That's kind of carried forward into most of the rest of my gaming...I just tend to accomplish missions in ways that leave the GM saying, "Well, yeah...there's no reason that shouldn't work.  Okay...you get away clean," or at least without losing any major body parts.  Most of the time...*grin*
That's not how I expected that paragraph to go. I thought you were going to say that you play in ways that result in personal discomfort for your character, but that achieve the in-game goal.

facemaker329:
RE: suicide missions...if that's what the mission is laid out to be, then the bad stuff I'm talking about IS a natural part of the development.  I'm talking about things like a GM saying, "That was too easy, the dice were really lucky and they shouldn't be able to walk away clean from this...so here's another fifty bad guys who are armed to the teeth and more experienced that all the guys you just wiped out.  They probably won't kill you..." (yes, I've had vindictive GMs throw random crap at me in the past...)
Hm. I think I see what you mean, but it seems just as likely that the players might agree that something was too easy and that some new complication sets in.

facemaker329:
If the players were smart enough to find a way to get half the party back from the suicide mission, don't have them suddenly wander into a minefield just to keep the threat level high (unless they had to cross it on the way in...if they forgot it was there, it's their own fault.)  That's the point I'm trying to make.
Okay, I think I understand. My take on it was that if the players are putting effort into figuring out how to get back safe from a suicide mission, then they're not bought into the scenario. That's assuming that it is, in the setting, a real suicide mission and not just hype by genre-blind NPCs. Players in, say, on Only War game (from what I understand of it) might, if it looked like the actually were going to be able to hijack a transport and get back to base, suggest that they've spotted a valuable objective of opportunity that they can only take out by a kamikaze attack.

I think the difference might be that I am, at long last, terribly tired of player "cleverness" when it comes to subverting scenarios and I'm more interested in player cleverness when it comes to making scenarios do better what it is they are intended to do.

facemaker329:
Most GMs I've seen are really good about it...but I've crossed paths with a few who just...wanted the PCs to be miserable, apparently, or wanted them dead.
Yes, just as it behooves the GM to ask what kinds of failure the players would find fun, it behooves the players to get from the GM what kinds of consequences the GM plans to impose and how they intend it to be interesting. When a GM says stuff like "consequences will just be a natural result of character choices" I start looking for a polite way to exit. I don't see that as assurance of clever play getting good results, but of a warning that the GM is setting up hoops to jump through.

horus:
You're right, of course.  Sometimes it's fun to let things run wild and free for a while, depending on how much tolerance the other players have for it.  I only consider a player problematic if their behavior affects the enjoyment of others adversely on a consistent basis.  Does that sound like a good objective criterion?
Mostly it does, with a strong dependence on circumstance. Often, all it takes is for the GM to justify the "wild and free" player's actions in an interesting way (or at least a way that doesn't make things less fun for the other players).

I was playing a quick one-off D&D game with a couple of guys, and one had made an evil character. It was a one-off and so I didn't want to fuss about it, as long as he was going to participate in the adventure, which he said he would. During the course of a chase scene, the character literally stumbled across a beggar, and decided that he was going to kill him. Evil, right? And I said "Okay. In the confusion and chaos, no one sees you do it. What do you do next?" We carried on. The guards didn't show up to harass or attack the PC, and it never came up again.

If it had been part of a longer series of games, maybe it would have gotten implausible for his tendencies not to draw some consequences, but I like to think I could have allowed lots of little evil, if-ultimately-inconsequential acts to happen and kept everyone happy. Or maybe the authorities who step in are not the cops but the Cultists of Zehir who object to the killing of innocents that doesn't involve sacrificial altars. Then the paladin and cleric can still be ticked at the evil character, but the game is still likely to be fun for the players.

Someone intent on being disruptive will find a way to do so, but I've been pleasantly surprised how often someone just needs a little extra creative accommodation to have fun.

I'm straying a bit here: point is, consequences. They can very often be both plausible and enjoyable. Finding out how can be a fun challenge, but I recognize that not everyone wants to get into that. To each their own.
csroy
 member, 102 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 07:02
Re: The price of defeat
So let's assume this, the bad event (amputation, the town burned down etc) happened.

For our purposes assume the following:

  • The players knew what they were getting into (a system with critical hit location, the consequence of failing to repelling the invaders).
  • The GM did not plan on this event to happen, it just happen because RP choices (poor or not) of the players.
  • The GM and the game is not set on failure as a theme, nor is the GM seeking out his players (ideally he is working in cooperation with them).
  • Neither the GM nor the player are in favor of a RETCON



How would you deal with moving forward, as a player, as another player or as the GM?
Togashi Kenshin
 member, 3 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 07:24
Re: The price of defeat
My two pennies on the situation:

In that case several scenarios are possible:

1) The PC is given something that will allow them to continue being effective or to contribute to the party.
This is the biggest gripe I hear from players; their PC is gimped and is essentially a passenger or a burden to the gaming group. For example a D&D party has its primary fighter lose his sword arm to a gelatinous cube. He might receive a prosthetic like the Silver Arm of Nuada from Irish Myth, it's not quite as good but it will do. Maybe he suffers a -2DEX penalty to actions with that arm to represent that it is not as adept as his real hand but nothing too crippling. Another is a deal with a devil (or angel). Someone offers to cast Regeneration on the fighter for a favour to be paid back later. You'd be surprised just how much worse it can be to owe a good-aligned creature rather than an evil one. Evil creatures have selfish motives but good ones often have bigger issues that can easily put the PCs into a final stand.

2) The party is allowed to ameliorate their failure somehow.
They might have sacked the PCs' castle and burned their fief to the ground but some of the people remain; their families and primary servants were kept as hostages. Time to do your best Liam Neeson voice and get them back.

3) The PC is allowed to retrain.
Depending on the game and any attendant system, this might be a viable option. Given a time skip where the rest of the party are kept busy and have this PC retrain into another role where the injury will not be as severe.

4) The Bad Thing that happened happens to everyone.
In other words, welcome to Ravenloft! In some games it is appropriate that whatever happened is just ladled onto the other PCs. Not so much maiming but an event failure can have far reaching consequences that impact everyone. For example a wizard is arguing a court case about the Banishment of Arcane Magic from the realm. He has a good INT score, he has a sky high Knowledge: Law skill. And then he botches. Oh crap. Well the Wizard PC is boned but what about everyone else? Well the Clerics and Paladins of goodly faiths might protest this tyranny only to be outlawed themselves. The Thieves' Guild offers shelter for Arcanists because, hey if you make a living breaking the law you might as well have Wizards owe you a favour while you're at it. This is counterbalanced by the crackdown on the Guild of course. The fighter might be told to hand over all his magical gear or else. Everyone gets shafted in the end and the campaign now moves into high gear as the Mad King needs someone to stick a preferably magical sword into his face before he destroys the whole kingdom.

In the end my best advice is to keep the game fun for the player(s) and use the event as an opportunity. Yes the dice might have screwed over your players but that does not mean that you can't cheat. In fact if you subscribe to the idea that a GM is there to make the game fun for everyone, then you should cheat.
icosahedron152
 member, 732 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 07:49
Re: The price of defeat
Just wanted to add that my comment above, about walking out of the game, was based on the assumption of a realistic game as described. If my treasured fighter loses a limb and I'm expected to play a crippled character thereafter, yes, I'd walk.

However, if the GM explained that in the next town there is a 'good chance' (nudge, wink) that a wizard can be found who is capable of resurrecting lost limbs, then the amputation is not a permanent disability, but becomes similar to (perhaps even a description of) losing 90% of your hit points - you just have to play carefully until you're healed. Not a problem, I'd stay and play the game through.

Likewise, if I'd signed up for a 'brutal' game (unlikely but not impossible) I'd perhaps be willing to play the character forward to a point where he sacrificed himself for the mission.

It's a matter of expectations, as discussed above. Generally, if the players and GM are on the same page, the game works whether or not the pill is bitter. It founders where the GM and players have different concepts, or their concepts are not made clear enough.

Incidentally, I recall I had a disagreement with a contributor to this thread a while back on this same topic. It's obviously something that he feels strongly about, but he was somewhat less eloquent at the time so I was never really sure what the crux of the disagreement was. From the above, we seem to be broadly on the same page, so I feel it was perhaps more of a misunderstanding than anything.

I bring this up as it is a prime example that I probably hadn't made my concept clear enough, and it's vital that everyone knows they're playing the same game.

That's the spoonful of sugar you need.
Gaffer
 member, 1441 posts
 Ocoee FL
 40 yrs of RPGs
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 11:32
Re: The price of defeat
Rez:
Basically he acted like he was unstoppable and when he found out he could die-he bailed. Everyone was upset towards him after the game and he knew it.
*snip*
As for the Sith, he felt only he could take him on and ignored the group.


You know, that could have been the basis for some great role play. It's like Han taking his payoff and refusing to join the attack on the Death Star. Then he roars in at the last minute to save Luke and give him the chance to make his successful run.

This character could have reacted in all the same ways the player did, then showed up once the battle was joined to save the party. Epic.
engine
 member, 267 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 16:27
Re: The price of defeat
csroy:
[*] The GM and the game is not set on failure as a theme, nor is the GM seeking out his players (ideally he is working in cooperation with them).
I'm not sure I understand this stipulation. Is there a word missing?

csroy:
How would you deal with moving forward, as a player, as another player or as the GM?
I'm also not sure I understand, based on the stipulations, what is hindering or complicating the game moving forward. Is it that, despite all of the stipulations, one of the players "would rather reboot (switching character or campaign)"? If so:

I'd let the player switch characters, as quickly and smoothly as possible, to one that they felt like playing and was, presumably, not affected by the bad event (or I would go along with such a switch if I were a player). Obviously, a new character would not have suffered the injury that happened to the old character, or if it somehow had, could have been built around that to the player's satisfaction. A new character could also be one that is or feels unaffected by whatever other kind of failure had occurred. They're not from that city/planet, say, or they just take a different view of things.

If the character is, for the player, unplayable, then it has effectively just "died." When a character dies, I want a player to get a new character, as quickly and smoothly as possible. Obviously, the new character isn't dead, and it might not be hard to make a new character who isn't affected negatively by the death of the old one.

I'd personally be interested in talking to the player at some point about their decision. I'd want to understand what kind of a set-back or consequence they would be willing to play through so that as a GM or player I could send the game more in that kind of direction. This is because, as I would explain to the player, I prefer to play in scenarios in which the characters sometimes lose and then have to deal with that, just as I enjoy stories in which the characters have to deal with loss.

It might come out that this player and I have incompatible approaches, but I try as much as I can these days to be sanguine about different attitudes toward a game, even by people at the same table.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:37, Fri 17 Mar.

swordchucks
 member, 1355 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 19:12
Re: The price of defeat
csroy:
How would you deal with moving forward, as a player, as another player or as the GM?

If a shift is great enough that "what the game was about" or "what the character was about" changes, the fundamental question becomes "what is it about now?"

If the GM and player(s) can work together to figure that out in a way that they all want to play, then the game continues.

Example: The town is burned.  However, the PCs realize that most of the villagers were actually rounded up as slaves.  The game then becomes about the PCs rescuing the enslaved villagers.

Example: The fighter lost a hand.  However, the GM offers a possible replacement for the hand in fairly short order (long term goals rarely work in PBP) that will involve new character complications of some sort.

If they can't reach a consensus, it's usually best to start a new game or character.  The one-handed fighter doesn't have to vanish, but now he's an NPC training recruits to the city watch or something.  Similarly, the next game could be set in the next town and the new party goes to investigate what happened to the last town, etc.

If you don't have both the GM and the players on-board for the story... there's really not much point in it.

And next time, don't make failures that you can't live with a possible outcome.

This message was last edited by the user at 19:13, Fri 17 Mar.

NowhereMan
 member, 122 posts
Fri 17 Mar 2017
at 22:56
Re: The price of defeat
I know that this thread is more about defeats and failures in general, what I don't understand about Rez's particular example is what the player was thinking in taking the dismemberment option in the first place.

Unless said critical hit was likely to kill him outright (which is fruitin' hard in Saga), he had to have known that there was a hard 50% chance of making his character "unplayable". Though how he thought he was going to be any more combat-effective as a one-legged Jedi than a one-handed one is beyond me anyhow.
Rez
 member, 3573 posts
 So....yeah...sure.....
Sat 18 Mar 2017
at 02:06
Re: The price of defeat
Concept: He did NOT want to take the critical hit so he went for the dismemberment. Feeling like he could not play the character he quit the game instead of making a new character. If he took the hit he would have died. He wanted to play and decided that he could not because his character was unplayable instead of going through the one handed times and gotten a new hand (or perhaps gene splicing something new). He acted like a jerk. Everyone was hurt not just him but he acted like he was the only person dealing any damaged and didn't bother taking in the point of his character needed us and vice versa. So basically, he bailed.

If something happened like that in any of the games I run, I would allow the PC to make a new character or play it as is, allowing a quest or something else to regain the lost limb or whatnot :)
facemaker329
 member, 6900 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Sat 18 Mar 2017
at 05:39
Re: The price of defeat
If something like that happened to one of my characters, and I thought he was unplayable after the injury, I'd have at least had him go out fighting...a suicidal attack on the Sith to set up the rest of the team to kill him or something like that (it would be more in character for my typical SW characters to wade in with a thermal detonator and say, "Deflect THIS!" just before setting it off, actually...)

I mean, I can understand feeling like the injury would make the character no fun to play, to some extent...I don't agree with it, but I understand it.  But just walking away from the game over it?  It would take a lot more than just that to make me quit a game.
csroy
 member, 104 posts
Sat 18 Mar 2017
at 07:15
Re: The price of defeat
This statement "My character became unplayable because of X" is exactly what I want to challenge.

I think that most of us (me included) are too quick in jumping into that conclusion, a minor setback and we slap on the UNPLAYABLE label on our character. Many time, as per Rez story, the fallouts from our statement has strong impact on the rest of the group.

The amputation is a classic example, even with a single hand a warrior is very lethal and effective. Sure for a time being he might get penalties to his attack but in most cases these are not deliberating penalties and as Rez had mentioned, that warrior is not working solo, he has a team with him that could compensate. Not to mention that we slap the UNPLAYABLE label most of the time before even checking that there are other options for recovery (as in Rez story).

I think that slapping the label does us injustice, we narrow down our character to a single narrow use as if he/she was a tool, if you had a sword and it broke it is reasonable to say it is useless and replace it but a character is far more versatile than a sword and most games (and players ingenuity) have ways to overcome such minor setback (in a game).

A more delicate example, is when several PC actions cause another player to announce that actions/words/etc of said group have made it impossible for his character to be with them.... but that is a whole different thread.

engine: what I meant was that in some games there is a theme that failure is part of the game (Torchbearer for example). Likewise some GMs seem to take it as a personal quest to have the PC fail (which is fine if both GM and PCs are cool with this).

EDIT: my point is that most of us are too fast in slapping the UNPLAYABLE label. Usually it happens just after the event happened. Without us even trying to see how playable the character is because what was really hurt was not the character but our very narrow concept of the character. Your PC could still be very badass one hand warrior it only mean you'd need to adjust and adapt for a new circumstance.

Consider that if instead of losing a hand, the PCs will be tossed into a dungeon naked and without their pet sword +4 bane s. everything. Would any player claim his PC just became unplayable because they lost all their gear?

This message was last edited by the user at 07:38, Sat 18 Mar.

engine
 member, 268 posts
Sat 18 Mar 2017
at 08:44
Re: The price of defeat
csroy:
This statement "My character became unplayable because of X" is exactly what I want to challenge.
I think you're welcome to challenge it, but I think that challenging someone who is currently holding that view about their own character is usually going to be more trouble and more frustration than it's worth.

csroy:
I think that most of us (me included) are too quick in jumping into that conclusion, a minor setback and we slap on the UNPLAYABLE label on our character. Many time, as per Rez story, the fallouts from our statement has strong impact on the rest of the group.
If the fallouts are a problem, there are ways to reduce the likelihood of fallouts occurring. To the same degree a player can be expected not to be frustrated with the disruption of their character concept, a GM can be expected not to be frustrated with the disruption of their game concept.

csroy:
I think that slapping the label does us injustice, we narrow down our character to a single narrow use as if he/she was a tool, if you had a sword and it broke it is reasonable to say it is useless and replace it but a character is far more versatile than a sword and most games (and players ingenuity) have ways to overcome such minor setback (in a game).
I don't think I've seen anyone here say anything counter to that. It's just that those "ways," that "potential," are not necessarily something the player is interested in at that time, or in that moment. Or perhaps ever.

csroy:
A more delicate example, is when several PC actions cause another player to announce that actions/words/etc of said group have made it impossible for his character to be with them.... but that is a whole different thread.
It's much the same thing, and the ways to address it are also much the same. But I agree that it's a different thread, one I'd happily participate in,

csroy:
engine: what I meant was that in some games there is a theme that failure is part of the game (Torchbearer for example). Likewise some GMs seem to take it as a personal quest to have the PC fail (which is fine if both GM and PCs are cool with this).
Then you have a firm grasp of the core of the issue: being cool with it.

csroy:
EDIT: my point is that most of us are too fast in slapping the UNPLAYABLE label. Usually it happens just after the event happened. Without us even trying to see how playable the character is because what was really hurt was not the character but our very narrow concept of the character. Your PC could still be very badass one hand warrior it only mean you'd need to adjust and adapt for a new circumstance.
As true as that may be, it doesn't really matter. Some people enjoy that kind of scenario, as we've seen in this thread, others don't. Some people like it sometimes and not others. If a person isn't into it, isn't bought in, then suggesting that they're being "too quick" in their choice doesn't strike me as a good way to convince them not to make that choice.

csroy:
Consider that if instead of losing a hand, the PCs will be tossed into a dungeon naked and without their pet sword +4 bane s. everything. Would any player claim his PC just became unplayable because they lost all their gear?
Yes, many would. And they wouldn't necessarily be wrong.

Related to buy-in is trust. Because we know there are GMs who just want to see the players crushed and embarrassed, we might need to know that our GM isn't one such before we'll take up playing a character we perceive as disadvantaged. And if we do trust our GM, we might be interested in our characters starting in a tough spot because we know the GM won't let us get too frustrated, or will anyway help us find enjoyment.

Also related is control. If a player has a lot of control trust is a) not as necessary and b) a bit more easily gained. A player who has the ability to modify the game directly, or make decisions about how events unfold, can be more at ease with misfortune. I know that's not a popular preference, but as I've said, I've seen players call down terrible outcomes for their characters when they had control, and really enjoy playing through those.

I don't like to min-max my characters. I don't like to take obvious, easy choices. I will make and play a character that other people would not want to play because they would deem it too weak, too "unplayable". I have my own limits, and I'm sure there are characters others would play that I would deem too "unplayable." There's no much anyone can say that is going to convince someone that they should play a character they don't want to play, and what there is boils down to trust-building. If I want to show that a type of character is "playable" and in what way, then all that's worth doing is playing that type of character and demonstrating it. But even that might not help, since I might be okay with something (say, missing a lot of attacks) that would drive someone else crazy.

The classic approaches DMs take is that they just don't let people get new characters, or they apply character creation rules. Me, I don't let people min max their ability scores in D&D; everyone has to use a standard array. It's my little way of trying to prove (mostly to myself) that characters built that way are "playable," but you know what? Some players grumble about it, and sometimes I think about not bothering. We can't often force people to like things, or even to take a chance on them.

Forcing players to keep characters they don't like is the other traditional approach for achieving the kind of thing you want, but it's pretty risky, even if you've gone over it with the players beforehand. If it's "play a character you don't want to play (for some indefinite amount of time until it becomes a character you want to play)," or "walk," it's all-too-often going to be the second choice.

People keep talking about how characters who have had "bad things" happen to them can still, maybe, potentially, be awesome. Maybe (possibly) even more awesome than what the player wanted from the character. But, unless there's a guarantee that the character will be more awesome, they risk playing a character they don't like and being not awesome at all, when they could be playing a character they don't like, and being baseline awesome.

I get the impression that you, and other GMs, would help the character be awesome, if the player chose to soldier on. If that's the case, then the "bad thing" isn't really, and never was intended to be, all that bad, but is just a motivation to try to achieve greatness in a particular way, perhaps a way preferred by the GM, and not the player. And some people would simply rather not take that dip in awesomeness. Some people want to just keep getting more awesome. Some people want to stick with a nice baseline for the whole time. Some people want to see the character degrade from the get-go. I can imagine an Only War player not really being jazzed about access to an amazing weapon, even if it was limited-use. That's not because the character would be "unplayable" but because it's not the path they want to be on. It's "unplayable" in the way they want to play it.

I'd forget about the label that's being used. It distracts from the underlying issues. What it comes down to is that they don't want to play that character, and the reason doesn't really matter. Some people don't want to drink coffee, even if they probably would get used to it, and even come to take comfort in it.