Suspense in RPGs - Page 12
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  1. #111
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caliburn101 View Post
    Death is fast and easy. Tazers, force cages, sleep mist, sonic stun crowd control weapons - these are deployed much more rarely in rpgs compared to old knife in the gut, axe in the head, bullet in the brain or poison in the cup.
    That's an easy point to make, and not an unfamiliar one. Mind you, it's usually being made by folks like BADD, with an anti-RPG agenda... ;P

    Seriously, though, the fact it takes even a teeny bit of extra thought to go non-lethal does help with drama, in that killing can be the expedient way of dealing with conflict, but not the best way. When killing is automatic, thoughtless, assumed - life is cheap - drama & suspense fall away, because there's nothing much left to care about.
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  2. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    In the past, we did often tweak D&D, especially, to make it less randomly/pointlessly lethal. The other super-randomly-lethal games you mention were from the 70s, as well. But, D&D has become less lethal with each iteration.
    Generally, yes; but that also goes along with another development that's also become more common with each iteration: the campaign as a simgle start-to-finish adventure path. Here it does make sense to try and have the same PCs around at the end as at the start.

    But for more open-ended or sandbox or multi-party games (which is what I run) there's no reason to make 'em any less deadly.

    5e death saves are the most forgiving yet, and you can choose to knock out rather than kill at 0 hps. The same is broadly true of RPGs in general.
    Things like this are why I kitbash...

    Killing off protagonists for no reason is just not how storytelling is generally done...

    GoT is virtually unique in it's killing off of seeming protagonists without rhyme or reason.
    Which is (a large part of) what makes it excellent.

    The overarching story is clearly shown to be bigger than any individual participant...which is the same way I view a campaign: the overall campaign is bigger than any one character within it.

    Lanefan
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  3. #113
    Quote Originally Posted by Caliburn101 View Post
    You miss the point.

    Death may not be the end point for the PCs most of the time, but it is nearly always the end for the enemy, and if the game is being run with an eye on suspense, the enemies will be trying to kill the PCs in some credible way.

    It IS the point of the combat, it may not be the point of the adventure.
    Is there much of a point to miss? On one hand, you seem to be arguing that death happens in roleplaying games, which is a banal argument to make. On the other hand, you are arguing that death "IS the point of combat," which is demonstrably false and any time someone provides counter-examples and counter-opinions, you cast your net wider.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    Generally, yes; but that also goes along with another development that's also become more common with each iteration: the campaign as a simgle start-to-finish adventure path. Here it does make sense to try and have the same PCs around at the end as at the start.

    But for more open-ended or sandbox or multi-party games (which is what I run) there's no reason to make 'em any less deadly.
    I suspect that there are reasons to make 'em less deadly, but they are reasons that you either don't put much stock or value in for what you want in your game. My gaming group has always been relatively small set of friends (4-6 people) with different gaming needs and wants.

    The overarching story is clearly shown to be bigger than any individual participant...which is the same way I view a campaign: the overall campaign is bigger than any one character within it.
    Seems like that moves the game away from the character as the player's ego and more towards the campaign as the GM's ego. Though I admire the design goals of this approach, I can't see myself running these sort of games.
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  4. #114
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    I suspect that there are reasons to make 'em less deadly, but they are reasons that you either don't put much stock or value in for what you want in your game. My gaming group has always been relatively small set of friends (4-6 people) with different gaming needs and wants.
    Ditto here, with one major caveat: not only do I have character turnover within a campaign, on a slower scale I also have player turnover - new players join, existing ones leave or move away or whatever, and so on.

    My current campaign has seen 13 players (of which one was a one-session wonder, so 12 that matter) during its 10 years. Three or four, depending on week, remain: one founding player is still in; another founding player is the fourth who comes in for a bit then leaves, then comes back; and the other two joined along the way. I'd probably still have a few more but due to time constraints I had to shut a party down a few years back, and those players didn't jump to the remaining party due to a combination of a) some personality conflicts and b) they wouldn't all fit at the table.

    Seems like that moves the game away from the character as the player's ego and more towards the campaign as the GM's ego. Though I admire the design goals of this approach, I can't see myself running these sort of games.
    My usual (admittedly imperfect) analogy is that of a sports franchise - the actual players on the field (analagous to PCs) come and go over time, but the franchise itself (analagous to the campaign) carries on.
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  5. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    Generally, yes; but that also goes along with another development that's also become more common with each iteration: the campaign as a simgle start-to-finish adventure path. Here it does make sense to try and have the same PCs around at the end as at the start.

    But for more open-ended or sandbox or multi-party games (which is what I run) there's no reason to make 'em any less deadly.

    Things like this are why I kitbash...

    Which is (a large part of) what makes it excellent.

    The overarching story is clearly shown to be bigger than any individual participant...which is the same way I view a campaign: the overall campaign is bigger than any one character within it.

    Lanefan
    I think that a big difference between playstyles. There are no protagonists foreordained in my campaign world. There are just people (of all races) who will prosper only if they play well otherwise they will fail. If a story comes out of a campaign it will be by accident. Now having said that many memorable stories have come out of it. Not forcing it though has made those stories all the more glorious.
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  6. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    Is there much of a point to miss? On one hand, you seem to be arguing that death happens in roleplaying games, which is a banal argument to make. On the other hand, you are arguing that death "IS the point of combat," which is demonstrably false and any time someone provides counter-examples and counter-opinions, you cast your net wider.
    .
    Is there much of a point to miss?

    Yes, and I will answer as curtly as you have - you missed it again.

    I suggest you look up the literal meaning of combat - a conflict between armed forces, or battle.

    Then look at my comments on proportionality, which I have been entirely consistent about - not as you falsely claim - 'ever widening the net', and ask yourself the honest question;

    "How many battles or conflicts between armed forces haven't involved trying to kill the enemy?"

    Of course you can take the lazy way out and try to redefine what combat means retrospectively, but that's a strawman argument. You can as some have use only the exceptions to the norm to try illogically to undermine the entire premise.

    But the exceptions don't prove the rule - there are exceptions to everything, even the operation of gravity - and you don't hear physicists arguing that gravity doesn't make things come back down again when you throw them up in the air because it might not exist as we understand it in a black hole.

  7. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    That's an easy point to make, and not an unfamiliar one. Mind you, it's usually being made by folks like BADD, with an anti-RPG agenda... ;P

    Seriously, though, the fact it takes even a teeny bit of extra thought to go non-lethal does help with drama, in that killing can be the expedient way of dealing with conflict, but not the best way. When killing is automatic, thoughtless, assumed - life is cheap - drama & suspense fall away, because there's nothing much left to care about.
    Well, yes, stating the obvious is indeed easy. But some people seem to have missed it, or at the very least don't care to acknowledge it for some reason.

    As I made clear earlier - I have had 12 hours games run without a single drop of blood spilled or even a tavern brawl. Combat isn't needed to have drama.

    But because I said rpg combat is dull without the risk of death (The English dictionary definition of COMBAT that is - not a non-lethal physical contest as some are trying to redefine it as), it is lazily assumed that I advocate it in all cases of conflict.

    Such thinking is of course ridiculous.

    Once again I am drawn back to Game of Thrones, or Lord of the Rings. The moments when combat is ongoing, if the audience thought there was no chance of characters dying (very similar to a player knowing the DM just wont let their character die) then those scenes would not work.

    I am not saying combat should always happen, or that if it happens there must always be death, but it is a very common scene in rpgs and very commonly ends in death for someone.

    I am getting very tired indeed of those who argue that other outputs or purposes are valid (which I have never denied) means that I am talking rubbish.

    That is demonstrably not the case.
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  8. #118
    Quote Originally Posted by Caliburn101 View Post
    Is there much of a point to miss?

    Yes,
    and I will answer as curtly as you have - you missed it again.

    I suggest you look up the literal meaning of combat - a conflict between armed forces, or battle.

    Then look at my comments on proportionality, which I have been entirely consistent about - not as you falsely claim - 'ever widening the net', and ask yourself the honest question;

    "How many battles or conflicts between armed forces haven't involved trying to kill the enemy?"

    Of course you can take the lazy way out and try to redefine what combat means retrospectively, but that's a strawman argument. You can as some have use only the exceptions to the norm to try illogically to undermine the entire premise.

    But the exceptions don't prove the rule - there are exceptions to everything, even the operation of gravity - and you don't hear physicists arguing that gravity doesn't make things come back down again when you throw them up in the air because it might not exist as we understand it in a black hole.
    I have apparently missed it again because I do not see here where you state it. So what is your point here? That combat frequently involves death, killing, and violence? Is your grandstanding point really that insipid?

  9. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caliburn101 View Post
    But because I said rpg combat is dull without the risk of death (The English dictionary definition of COMBAT that is - not a non-lethal physical contest as some are trying to redefine it as), it is lazily assumed that I advocate it in all cases of conflict..
    It is necessarily assumed that you meant that in all cases of RPG combat, yet more than a few RPGs stand as stark counter-examples.

    Now you want to invoke a RL definition of combat to completely change the meaning of what you said, even though, in doing so, you have shifted the topic from RPGs to military simulations, and made your original assertion a self-defeating tautology: "RPG combat lethal conflict between armed forces, not a non-lethal physical contest is dull without the risk of death." Well, without the risk of death, it no longer fits your definition.

    When I see discussions start to twist in the wind like that I begin to suspect that they have slid from the topic, to the need to avoid the appearance of having been wrong.


    Since you have now clarified that your assertion about RPG combat being dull without the risk of death was meant only to apply to the actual literal definition of combat, not to any application of RPG rules under a 'combat' heading that might include non-lethal resolutions, and since you acknowledge that the latter 'non-lethal physical challenges' are not necessarily dull (they are 'valid'), there's no further need to continue that tangent.
    Last edited by Tony Vargas; Thursday, 5th July, 2018 at 05:44 PM.

  10. #120
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    I have apparently missed it again because I do not see here where you state it. So what is your point here? That combat frequently involves death, killing, and violence? Is your grandstanding point really that insipid?
    At a guess, as I'm not @Caliburn101 , I think it's a combat-as-war vs. combat-as-sport thing.

    Cali, I suspect (and please correct me if I'm wrong), sees combat as war almost all the time, save for a few exceptional situations as posted.

    I'm also in this camp. The as-war aspect and risk of death (or worse) is what makes it entertaining and (usually) suspenseful; vastly more so than it would be were it sport without the possibility of lasting (or any!) consequences.

    If a character is plot-protected then any combat - no matter how superficially exciting or suspenseful it may be at the time - is redundant, and merely an exercise in going through the motions; because one way or another the end result is preordained*. This is even more the case if-when the player is aware of said protection.

    * - that the PC will survive. The manner of that survival - as a prisoner, as a slave, as a triumphant victor - remains in doubt; but as the plot protection is almost certainly going to extend to being afforded ample opportunity to escape from prison or slavery or whatever it still doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things: the PC will still win in the end.

    Heroic, perhaps....and fine once or twice, but it quickly loses its appeal if done every time.

    Lan-"and yes, I find the 'good guys always win' aspect of movies books and other media also gets boring sometimes"-efan
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