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  1. #121
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    ° Block Aenghus


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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    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
    As I and over people have mentioned more than once, if there is some sort of script immunity in operation in a game the play is about stakes other than mere survival. The very script immunity allows players to feel safer forming bonds with NPCs and laying down roots in setting, safe in the knowledge that a random deathtrap won't meaninglessly kill them the next day.

    The village can burn, the beloved npc can be hurt, killed or kidnapped, war can break out etc (I'm assuming the feelings are "real, not faked here). There's a whole multiverse of stakes other than personal survival to play for.

    I find "combat as war" to degenerate into a "PCs escalate first" until one side is wiped out cycle that I see as just as unrealistic as the alternatives.

    Negotiation and treaties aren't an unrealistic way to temporarily or semi-permanently end hostilities, but IMO they are less likely if the PCs are just trying to wipe out the opposition (which can seem rational if the PCs only care about themselves and don't give a damn about the setting).
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  2. #122
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    ° Block Tony Vargas


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aenghus View Post
    I find "combat as war" to degenerate into a "PCs escalate first" until one side is wiped out cycle that I see as just as unrealistic as the alternatives.
    Every playstyle has its degenerate forms, sure. CaW can also devolve into a metagame of DM manipulation (yes, either the players manipulating the DM to get easy victories every time, or the DM manipulating the players to jump through his hoops in pursuit thereof). CaW is also the style that makes "what if LotR were in D&D" jokes, where Gandalf scry/buff/teleport pwns Sauron or whatever, funny - because to a much lesser extreme, some of the fun of an RPG /can/ come from doing the 'smart' thing in defiance of genre conventions.
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  3. #123
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    ° Block Lanefan


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    Quote Originally Posted by Aenghus View Post
    Negotiation and treaties aren't an unrealistic way to temporarily or semi-permanently end hostilities, but IMO they are less likely if the PCs are just trying to wipe out the opposition (which can seem rational if the PCs only care about themselves and don't give a damn about the setting).
    Negotiation will only realistically happen when a) one side knows it cannot win and tries negotiation as a plan B, or b) both sides realize the cost of continuing (or starting) battle will be too high.

    For a) to work the winning side has to consent to negotiate - which IME isn't something PCs often do, though the opposition will on occasion.

    For either a) or b) to work there needs to be enough intelligence and reason on both sides to make it worthwhile. Negotiating with a purple worm, for example, is only going to get you eaten faster; negotiating with fanatical cultists is also likely doomed to failure before it starts.

    And, for either a) or b) to work one or both sides has to have something to bargain with that the other side wants and can't otherwise easily get: this isn't always the case.

    And whether or not the PCs give a damn about the setting, I always take it as default that the setting doesn't give any more of a damn about the PCs than it does any of its other many inhabitants.

    Lanefan
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  4. #124
    Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
    Negotiation will only realistically happen when a) one side knows it cannot win and tries negotiation as a plan B, or b) both sides realize the cost of continuing (or starting) battle will be too high.
    The lethality of the RPG system you're using is definitely a big factor in this. In games like Runequest or Ars Magica, negotiations are quite frequent, if not the default. And if the PCs are facing an opponent that cannot be negotiated with, .e.g. in RQ the Broo or in Ars Magica (magical) beasts without an IQ stat, they'll either try to avoid combat completely (by fleeing) or at least delay it until they've taken measures to stack the odds in their favor (preparing an ambush, hiring reinforcements, etc.).

    But even in our Earthdawn games, we often tried to negotiate with our enemies (the exception being Horrors and their constructs). Here, however, it was entirely because of our GMs preference of presenting us with adversaries that clearly weren't 'evil'. Instead they may have been misguided, desperate, or simply acting out of fear. I've never been faced with so many moral dilemmas as in this game group!
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  5. #125
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    ° Block Emerikol


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    In my games, it is war and not sport. More often than not the monsters are trying to kill the PCs. There are exceptions of course but they are exceptional. The same is true of the group. They may want to capture someone for interrogation so they don't kill every enemy. That would be an exceptional case. Most of the time they just kill the enemy.

    Now given all of that above, that does not mean that there are no other activities beside combat going on. No every encounter with NPCs is a situation where they are viewed as an enemy. That is less true in a traditional dungeon but still true in exceptional cases. So one does not preclude the other.

    In my games poor play will result in death a lot. So if a PC is dying over an over that means the person playing that PC is not playing very well. Part of that is group dynamics. Even a new player will understand when a group lays out a battle plan or a marching order. My group works like a well trained military unit early on. Why? Because death happens more often otherwise. Because they play well though, even at low levels, death is rare. As they get into the higher levels where raise dead is available (at mid levels by paying a kinds ransom and at 9+ by casting it themselves), the downside to death is that the PC loses a character level. Now in 5e perhaps that is a little more difficult so I could just reduce a random attribute by one point ( or just go with one point of CON every time ).

    So my players have always treated death very seriously. Given that truth though, they still have lots of other in game goals. They have even risked their PC lives for those goals on occasion. They roleplay. They make alliances. They do everything outside of combat that I think a lot of you do. They always have a lot of downtime activities in play (more as they advance in level of course).
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  6. #126
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    As an addendum to my previous post.

    1. I am not a big CR guy. I do of course build dungeons around some concept of a level but I don't have a preset bunch of planned encounters that have an appropriate CR.

    2. I prefer the 1e philosophy where the wilderness is random (though perhaps I create my own wandering monster tables based on the world). The dungeons are based on the habitat of the enemy. So if for example my group wages a long battle in a particular room within earshot of other rooms, the monsters in those other rooms are going to come running. (Assuming they are allies of course and not some lurking creature).

    3. Running is definitely on the agenda for my PCs. How to do a fighting retreat is one of their "close action drills" if you will. Seek favorable terrain for a fighting retreat etc...

    4. Sleeping/resting whatever are not accomplished easily within the dungeon and leaving often leads to unpleasant surprises when the PCs return unless they've truly finished a particular enemy first. This partly depends on the intelligence of the monsters of course. So my groups tend to face at minimum the recommended encounters and often more.

    5. All of the above tends to eliminate the Wizard dominates the game problems. A wizard will very rarely expend a resource if he doesn't have to because he may need it in the next encounter. The group treats all the casters as valuable reservoirs of expendable resources.


    I try to avoid too much obvious structure. No given that my 1st level PCs are not going into a dungeon to battle an Arch Devil. They might be fighting kobolds but if not careful the number of kobolds could easily exceed the CR if they don't play things right.

    My group depending on the level typically has "stances" that they go into which they document. They then just state they go into the stance and a whole bunch of things happen. Just like a combat team.
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  7. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Vargas View Post
    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.
    My admittedly repeated mistake proceeding from the assumption that the dictionary definitions of words are those understood by people using English to communicate with.

    As for the bolded part of your response - you should consider that this kind of thing also has the appearance of doing so when those who are wrong critique someone who is right demanding ever more myopic clarifications on this word or that, that phrase or the other (targeted incrementally out of context) in order to massage the debate into a 'winning' position by them. Some might even then characterise the respondent as having been guilty of the same tactic to cover their own verbal sleight of hand.

    This draws in a lot of people because they understandably cannot be bothered to take all the time necessary to backtrack the argument to it's source point and follow it with an analytical frame of mind. The one doing it can then accuse first and like every kid in the playground knows, as they called foul first with something at least appearing to be some kind of justification group-think will assume there is no smoke without fire, and they can trumpet their 'win' either directly or by a generally framed reference to the specific person, so as not to trigger moderation.

    Most people on here who cynically and consistently indulge in that sort of thing are on my ignore list, but it's a common enough tactic to be almost unavoidable.
    Last edited by Caliburn101; Monday, 9th July, 2018 at 01:20 PM.
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  8. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aenghus View Post
    As I and over people have mentioned more than once, if there is some sort of script immunity in operation in a game the play is about stakes other than mere survival. The very script immunity allows players to feel safer forming bonds with NPCs and laying down roots in setting, safe in the knowledge that a random deathtrap won't meaninglessly kill them the next day.

    The village can burn, the beloved npc can be hurt, killed or kidnapped, war can break out etc (I'm assuming the feelings are "real, not faked here). There's a whole multiverse of stakes other than personal survival to play for.

    I find "combat as war" to degenerate into a "PCs escalate first" until one side is wiped out cycle that I see as just as unrealistic as the alternatives.

    Negotiation and treaties aren't an unrealistic way to temporarily or semi-permanently end hostilities, but IMO they are less likely if the PCs are just trying to wipe out the opposition (which can seem rational if the PCs only care about themselves and don't give a damn about the setting).
    You are conflating quite unfairly the 'risk of death provides drama' point I support with a 'arbitrary death is unfair' statement.

    Combat as war leading to escalation is usually what the antagonist are about - not the player characters as antagonists.

    Where death has occurred for instance, have you ever heard of a clichÚ involving Orcs entering a pub to meet and old Night Hag whose coven was raided and murdered by adventurers, and who is offering gold for the terrible threat to be dealt with?

    Characters are commonly reactive, and lots of people like it that way - they get to have fin adventures and the GM has the time to prepare the adventure in advance.

    Think about all the published adventures you can and ask yourself how many of them start with 'evil x does something really bad and brave heroes are called to fix it' and how many of those things involve either death, the threat of death, or death and further death in support of some scheme against the interests of someone(s) or something(s) that was/were innocent, or wealthy enough to employ adventurers to fix it.

    If your PCs are escalating unduly, that's on them, but usually the BBEG got there well ahead of them or is prepared to escalate at the drop of a hat.
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  9. #129
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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?
    Arguing my corner is grandstanding?

    Why is that?

    Because I feel the need to point out the obvious to those who won't acknowledge it because it doesn't suit their argument?

    I stated entirely that - and some respondents said that was false and the rarer examples cited proved me wrong. I made the obvious point that exceptions, however valid, do not prove the rule.

    If you are going to lower the bar so far on what you rather uniquely think 'grandstanding' means, then we are all guilty of it on these forums, including you.
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  10. #130
    Quote Originally Posted by Caliburn101 View Post
    Arguing my corner is grandstanding?

    Why is that?
    Your rude, condescending tone that reeking of one-true-wayism you have been repeatedly called out for using for starters. Or maybe comments like this:
    I've been running games for 40 years. I run convention games on a regular basis, and I have successfully completed all the novel and script writing courses offered in the Groucho Club in Soho - London.

    I wouldn't use the word 'authority', especially as a backhanded put-down, but I would say that I have the experience to comment with clarity and insight. The word 'should' was offered quite clearly as an opinion after the equally stated caveat that games of other sorts are in no way invalid, just duller if they involve a risk of death that everyone knows is fake.
    Were we not supposed to bask in awe at your experience and expertise as you toot your own horn?

    Because I feel the need to point out the obvious to those who won't acknowledge it because it doesn't suit their argument?
    Theirs or yours?

    Perhaps if you want people to be receptive to the sagacity of your arguments, you should work on your tone and how you are coming across here because you are clearly not making much headway and possibly quite the opposite. Of course, you could continue insulting their intelligence or talking down to other posters while insisting thing that you have done no wrong and are in the right, but I don't foresee much progress on this forum should you choose that path.
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