GreenTongue
 member, 882 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 22:26
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
If you keep giving them options to avoid unneeded combat with a more powerful foe and they keep making choices that lead closer to combat, do you give more "outs" or do you let combat start?
Egleris
 member, 177 posts
Fri 18 Oct 2019
at 23:11
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
In reply to GreenTongue (msg # 1):

If they are aware that the combat is dangerous and keep seeking it, I say let them have it.

The important thing is to make sure they are aware; it's not enough to say "the dragon looks scary and intimidating", it's much better to say "that's the famous dragon S, he once took on eight knights at once and killed them all without a wound", and even better if you deliver the information by having a character the player know is more powerful than them relay it - so, Gandalf saying "oh, yeah, dragon S - I barely managed to escape with my life the last time I faced it, but my master and my five much more skilled fellow apprenticed weren't as lucky".

If necessary, just tell the players straight out OOC that the person they're trying to provoke is very dangerous - a line like "this one is level 50, you're all level 15" can help players understand that the enemy in question needs to be outmanouvered or stealthed past or diplomanced or something else other than directly fought.

It's a sad aspect of many RPGs that players tend to think that any enemy they meet will scale to their power level, and thus defeating anybody they met is always possible; showcasing that this is not the case in your game can be very hard, but once the players understand it, they'll learn to be more careful of their own accord.

This message was last edited by the user at 23:12, Fri 18 Oct.

donsr
 member, 1732 posts
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 00:50
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
 I have sand box  type  games... conflict  will always be there, but the players  can  ecade some...or start some...

 I am not a character killer, but  if you  do  stupid  stuff..then  you pay the price... some 'less then desirable' players thought they could do whatever they felt like, because 'he won't kill the PCs"

  surprise!.. you killed them.. I just set the parameters
evileeyore
 member, 250 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 01:04
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
What is best in life?

To crush their characters, to see their sheets shredded before you, and hear the lamentations of the players!
MelJill
 member, 34 posts
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 01:10
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
I take a more nuanced approach to mercy--combat happens, and if I want to be merciful, instead of killing outright, the powerful opponent knocks the PC out, takes the PC's good stuff, and leaves the PC trussed like a Thanksgiving turkey.  (Of course, there are some player for whom that is seen as less merciful than "roll up a new character".)
seraphmoon
 member, 117 posts
 OSX10.14; iOS12.4 & 10.3
 Talks lots. Reads more.
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 03:05
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
I tend to say something like, "Are you sure you want to do that?" Most of the players I've had will get the message, but for the ones that insist, well . . . I gave them a chance to change their mind about trying to taunt Cthulhu. And if they do happen to succeed, they get some IC fame and a great OOC story to tell.
facemaker329
 member, 7126 posts
 Gaming for over 30
 years, and counting!
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 05:39
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
I'm GMing for the first time in a LONG time, but I'm trying to emulate the example of some really great GMs I've had through the years...

How merciful I am depends on how stupid the players have been.  If the ultimate misfortune strikes as the result of bad luck, I'll give them an out...even if that means leaving them at Death's door, with an NPC rescuing them from death.  If they made some bad choices and then tried to find a way out of it, I'll give them a helping hand.  If they walked into the dragon's den and tried to kill it with a dagger, they're gonna die.
horus
 member, 905 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 06:58
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
evileeyore:
What is best in life?

To crush their characters, to see their sheets shredded before you, and hear the lamentations of the players!


Have a cookie for that one, man!  Thanks, I needed a chuckle.
GreenTongue
 member, 883 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 12:08
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
How about when it seems like they have not read back over all the clues/hints that got them to this point.
When taken together the danger is clear but from just the last post, not so much.

Do you expect the players to reread what has gone before and make their update or just respond to the latest post?

I've had multiple games now where it sure looks like they forgot what got them to the point they are and they didn't read back to refresh the situation before posting.
Egleris
 member, 178 posts
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 12:16
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
In reply to GreenTongue (msg # 9):

Players do that all the time.

I just send them a PM to confirm they haven't forgotten some information, or perhaps failed to connect certain dots that can seem obvious to the GM but aren't always so to players. In general, I just assume people are having a day off and are missing some details, so I make sure they know what they're doing and the consequences they should know it might lead to by straight up telling them.

I also like to ask what is it the players are aiming for when they take some action that doesn't make sense to me. Players are generally smarter than me, and often will come up with very good plans that I didn't see coming; once you know what the players are aiming for, it's easy to double check with the character and either tell them "what you're trying will likely not lead to what you want" or "if you want that, this might be a better approach".

Or sometimes, just realizing the players are right, and nodding along, saying "carry on" and have things go in the direction they want rather than the one I as GM thought they would, is the superior choice.

This message was last edited by the user at 12:20, Sat 19 Oct.

donsr
 member, 1733 posts
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 12:18
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
 my  game posts have a lot of 'fluff ' in to add to teh story. Most of it  is  for  color, emotion ect.

 but  buried in them are clues , if  not for what is on hand...for what might happen down the road. It a great feeling ,when a Player discovers, or think they discover something.

 of course? most miss a clue because  they didn't read the post of mine or others?

  Some pick it up, but heir character 'wasn't there' so they can't  do  anything about it..but will say in PMs  to me or OOC.."hey , I saw that!"

 during  differant  periods  of the  year, some players   are busier in RL then other, and  might  ask where they are at, or  what is goign one for them... I will either  give the t the thread to read up on, or  give them a 'you are here, doing this"

 I do  tell new players to skim all posts, in case thier character is mentioned in a COM, or another player  is   trying to get intouch. Most do it, some miss out, it works that way in RL as well.
evileeyore
 member, 251 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 14:13
Re: How Merciful Are You As A GM?
horus:
evileeyore:
What is best in life?

To crush their characters, to see their sheets shredded before you, and hear the lamentations of the players!


Have a cookie for that one, man!  Thanks, I needed a chuckle.

Thanks!

In all seriousness, for me "mercy" depends on the genre of the campaign.  If the damage is within the bounds of the campaign premise, I am merciless.  If the damage is outside the bounds of the genre, then I'm far, far, far more lenient.

Frex:

In a Dungeon Fantasy game, repeated character death, TPKs, maiming, complete loss of equipment, money, "levels", NPCs betraying them or dying in the 'dungeon', etc are all on the table.  If the Player is on their third character since entering the 'dungeon', that's well within bounds.

4-Color "Golden Age" Supers, death is off the table, as is actually revealing their secret identity, killing sidekicks, or other Important NPCs.  Destroying equipment is okay, but it's 'immediately' replaceable within the context of the story (or it's off limits).  Important NPCs will not betray them unless it's a face-heel-face turn to help out the heroes in the end.

Classic Call of Cthulhu is very much like Dungeon Fantasy, just with a setting change.

Modern Wainscott/Noir fantasy?  The main PCs won't die (unless the Player is behind it), but maiming and serious injury are on the table, as is possible NPC betrayal/death (depends on the specific style* I'm emulating), the PCs should be in constant financial despair, equipment is cheap and disposable, etc.

Generic 'Tolkien' Fantasy?  The heroes should either survive or get to Boromir themselves out, equipment lasts or gets replaced/repaired pretty easily (if it is 'important'), NPCs are on the chopping block and useful or are invincible and rarely (but potently) useful, etc.

I don't run 'Romance', but it has its own set of genre rules.

Etc.



* It's a trope, but the 'Dame' always turns on the 'Dick' for some reason, I blame noir detective stories.  Even if it's a Face-Heel-Face turn, the Dame won't be trustworthy afterwards (unless it was mind control or A Very Good Reason).
engine
 member, 744 posts
 There's a brain alright
 but it's made out of meat
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 15:43
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
In reply to GreenTongue (msg # 1):

This seems predicated on the idea that the only possible goal either they or the foe could have is to kill the other one.

I'll put in powerful foes and groups and if they move toward them great. I wouldn't put them in there if I didn't want an encounter to happen. But the creatures in question have things to do, goals to accomplish that have nothing to do with the PCs and which don't require them to kill the PCs.

So,if the PCs show up, sure the enemies will fight, but they'll be fighting to accomplish their goal, rather than to kill the PCs. Death is still possible, but it's much less likely. Either the PCs kill the foes (or, more interestingly, accomplish their /own/ goals) of the monsters accomplish theirs and disengage. Or they accomplish theirs and /then/ the PCs kill them. Or some combination.

I've never understood any kind of interest in either killing PCs or in keeping them alive whenever the monsters have the goal of killing them. Killing them is an aggravation because that means the game has to stop for anyone whose character is dead, until the GM can figure out how to bring them back in.

On the other hand, if the point of the monsters is to kill them, the GM and players should be prepared for that with new characters that can be quickly slotted in and with low emotional attachment to the characters. Except I rarely if ever see that arranged. I don't arrange it myself, but then my monsters aren't generally trying to kill the characters.

It's really a ridiculous conundrum that should have long ago been resolved, except almost all game rules are all but silent on the topic.
donsr
 member, 1735 posts
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 15:54
How Merciful Are You As A GM?
 I like to think...bad  stuff  can happen to my character..i don't want it to?  But the danger is part of  game..right?

 there are worst things then death...  wounded badly. losing something..failing the mission, and even losing  a  beloved  NPC.

 when I interview  an RTJ  I make it known you can die..but..things  would have to  get bad...( or  do really stupid  stuff)..

 I had a very good player  who had to leave  the game and want eh  PC  to 'go out  with flair'... the player gave  me   the  thought, and   within the next two missions,  the player  was able to  'convert' in game, with out twisting the plot  lines.

 It was sad.. and very good RP..some of the other players   kept  wondering how  we were gopign to save her... the answer?...we couldn't..it made for very good RP  and  affects  some of the PCs  to this day ( those who were around when it happened anyway).

 Too many players   try to 'beat the GM  ' or Beat the Game"...too many GM  say " I spent   all this time  , this is gonna happen"

 our  game is  fluid... I have plots that were missed and will never see the light of day... new plots  created  by PC's  RP have grown, and  , now and again they  find a hidden subplot.

 No Force march...no guaranteed  endings..and surprises.. it keeps the game fresh  for me as well as the players

 but in the end.. part of the excitement, is whether you'll make it through then next op, or battle ..whether  you'll fail or not... and what springs up from the actions yuou and  your  crewmates  have taken.
evileeyore
 member, 252 posts
 GURPS GM and Player
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 16:47
Re: How Merciful Are You As A GM?
donsr:
there are worst things then death...

I've never understood and will (likely) never agree with this concept.  With death* it is an end to growth, and end to change, it ends all possibility (and thus hope) of betterment.

No matter what the character faces in terms of loss, as long as the character is 'alive' and playable, things can always improve†.




* Let's not mince descriptives, you know what I mean, death, destruction, end of character playability, how ever this occurs.  I'm not negating genres in which 'dying' is the beginning of the character's adventure.  Also note, I'm fine with you lumping 'rendered continued play undesirable' into 'death', as I've abandoned games in which the hope of things getting better seemed to be nil.

†  If this isn't one of those games where it's a 'grim-porn' style where the entire premise is "how much loss, suffering, and failing can the Characters take before the Players quit playing".
donsr
 member, 1736 posts
Sat 19 Oct 2019
at 17:07
Re: How Merciful Are You As A GM?
 this is  more  or less a take from player in games I was  with..and very few I had in my game, where  they  figure.." so what?  my guy dies, I make another"

 I had a guy who  either  didn't  understand  'Semi-freeform'  or   thought he would 'power through'..but  it cost him his charcter.. he freaked out..PMed   me nasty stuff and asked  how  he charcter was coming back.

 I told him, he's space dust..the PC with  him  hit the POD  and  escaped... that's the way it goes.

 it also makes  it a good coaching point for other players.