Have you ever played a pacifist character?

Tuzenbach

First Post
The character goes along with the party and is very useful, but kills no creatures and doesn't even try to attack them.



Does it happen?



Discuss!!!
 

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Dandu

First Post
You aren't a pacifist just because you don't attack people. It's more accurate to ask if anyone's played a non-violent character.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I never have because it's too disruptive to the premise of D&D the way it is usually played. I'd only do it if the entire group was pacifist.
 

Tuzenbach

First Post
I never have because it's too disruptive to the premise of D&D the way it is usually played. I'd only do it if the entire group was pacifist.



YES!!! That's just the idea. You see, I'm disruptive by nature. I'm so "outside the box", that I haven't seen the inside of the box for a couple of decades.


Should "the premise of D&D the way it is usually played" become stale or tiresome, then ways of alleviating the monotony must be found to instill new vigor into the game play. One idea I had was creating characters who gain experience in ways other than attacking. Maybe it'd be more fun to run from and evade a kobold rather that just nonchalantly extinguishing it?


LoL. I suggested this idea to a friend of mine and he proceeded to blast me into oblivion for even making that suggestion. In another discussion entirely, he was trying to tell me how good the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) was. I recently had to opportunity to sit down and watch the film. Do you know what? With the exception of the final 10 minutes, the protagonists spend the bulk of the film not fighting, but running from opponents. I had to laugh. ;)
 

ccs

41st lv DM
No & I doubt I ever will as the basic premise of the game IS fighting monsters.
That said, I have played a few characters who aren't violent by nature. They tend to be explorer types. They'll fight if neccecary, even kill. But they aren't out on seek-&-destroy missions.

I'm not sure how I'll have my current character react when the party kills something not clearly a "monster".
So far all that's crossed the parties path is a (dire?) Wolf, an animated suit of armor, a beetle swarm, and a grick. (Playing CoS). And we've talked to a pair of ghost children.
Blowing away skeletons & zombies later? No problem.
Assorted viscous animals? No problem. Even eventually staking Strahd? No problem {vampires aren't people, they are monsters}
 

Dandu

First Post
Well, strictly speaking, there's no thing stopping you from solving problem with orcs raiding towns with a diplomatic solution...
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
YES!!! That's just the idea. You see, I'm disruptive by nature. I'm so "outside the box", that I haven't seen the inside of the box for a couple of decades.

Outside the box is fun and good. Disruptive is bad and needs to be shut down. I'm all for you having fun, and outside the box does that. However, disruptive is called disruptive because it interferes with the fun of others. That's a big no no.

Should "the premise of D&D the way it is usually played" become stale or tiresome, then ways of alleviating the monotony must be found to instill new vigor into the game play. One idea I had was creating characters who gain experience in ways other than attacking. Maybe it'd be more fun to run from and evade a kobold rather that just nonchalantly extinguishing it?

If everyone is on board for playing D&D in unusual ways, then there's no problem with it. One person doing it tends to throw a wrench into the game and I've seen it often shut a campaign down.
 

religon

First Post
No.

However, I did play a character… a ranger… that had a strange religious conversion. He went from a paranoid, borderline psychotic to a serene, holy warrior in a very short span. Not a pacifist, but really sought to avoid violence after his conversion experience.

The other PC's were a little miffed as I had gained some super-powers that would have been really useful in combat. I agonized over using them to their chagrin. Great role-playing for a few months.
 

Well, strictly speaking, there's no thing stopping you from solving problem with orcs raiding towns with a diplomatic solution...

Except the 4 or 5 other murderhobos you travel with...

Playing a pacifist PC is not in and of itself un-doable, or even problematic, but deciding to play one HAS to involve understanding and appreciating what kind of characters the rest of the players are going to play. If you're a pacifist in with a bunch of the aforementioned murderhobos then you've elected to play a PC that will be seen as useless dead weight. The other players will be keen to get into a lot of combat and your character, being a pacifist, would do what in all that combat? If you're not a healer or buffer type and instead are concentrating on attempting to reach diplomatic conclusions in the middle of freewheeling combat then your PC is almost certainly going to be seen as a burden by other players/pc's and the player is likely to see it as not much fun to play.

On the other hand, if the party and the campaign are actually geared to lots of diplomacy and RP over hack-and-slash then a pacifist PC becomes a MUCH more viable concept - even a valuable one since you can devote skills and abilities to alternatives to outright combat that will PAY OFF.

Since I've never played in or run a game that shied away from combat for any reason a pacifist character has always been a complete non-starter. It just would not make any sense except as an albatross around the neck of the game.
 

Dandu

First Post
At a minimum, it would work with a party that's willing to give diplomacy a shot before resorting to actual shooting.
 

Tuzenbach

First Post
No.

However, I did play a character… a ranger… that had a strange religious conversion. He went from a paranoid, borderline psychotic to a serene, holy warrior in a very short span. Not a pacifist, but really sought to avoid violence after his conversion experience.

The other PC's were a little miffed as I had gained some super-powers that would have been really useful in combat. I agonized over using them to their chagrin. Great role-playing for a few months.


When that character wasn't killing, what was the basis for earning experience points? Thanks!!!
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
Sort of.

In our current campaign we're low level. My character prefers non-lethal solutions. Being low level, I'm presuming that he isn't yet the hardened, casual killer that most players seem to run.

Several times, when we face an implacable opponent (one who attacks on sight and can't be reasoned with), my character will bandage their people-type fallen after the fight (after ours are handled, of course.)

Aside from the fact that he occasionally loses his lunch after we're forced to kill, he figures that we might be better received should we ever have to come back this way.

In short, I'm running a civilian, with a civilized upbringing, for whom casually killing opponents will never sit well.

******

In a 4e game I was DMing I had the party meet a Tiefling lady who claimed to be a simple cook. The party proceeded to not-very-casually question her about her combat skills, a conversation that culminated in one of them finally asking her bluntly, "How do you kill people?".

She was shocked, and asked, "What kind of person do you think I am?"

Then it was their turn to be shocked: She really was an NPC, a commoner who wanted nothing to do with war or killing, and who had a commoner's view of, well, murder.

Taking life is such a casual thing for most PCs that I thought I would remind them that, to most civilians, the line between being a Player character and a serial killer was very very thin.
 

Tuzenbach

First Post
Sort of.

In our current campaign we're low level. My character prefers non-lethal solutions. Being low level, I'm presuming that he isn't yet the hardened, casual killer that most players seem to run.

Several times, when we face an implacable opponent (one who attacks on sight and can't be reasoned with), my character will bandage their people-type fallen after the fight (after ours are handled, of course.)

Aside from the fact that he occasionally loses his lunch after we're forced to kill, he figures that we might be better received should we ever have to come back this way.

In short, I'm running a civilian, with a civilized upbringing, for whom casually killing opponents will never sit well.

******

In a 4e game I was DMing I had the party meet a Tiefling lady who claimed to be a simple cook. The party proceeded to not-very-casually question her about her combat skills, a conversation that culminated in one of them finally asking her bluntly, "How do you kill people?".

She was shocked, and asked, "What kind of person do you think I am?"

Then it was their turn to be shocked: She really was an NPC, a commoner who wanted nothing to do with war or killing, and who had a commoner's view of, well, murder.

Taking life is such a casual thing for most PCs that I thought I would remind them that, to most civilians, the line between being a Player character and a serial killer was very very thin.


Hey, good answer!!!! :)
 

Mishihari Lord

First Post
I've played a pacifist character of sorts, and DM'ed for a player who had a pacifist PC.

My PC was trained from birth to be an assassin, and the first time he killed a person (prior to the campaign start) it felt so horrible he swore he'd never do it again, kill a thinking being, that is, he had no issue with killing animals, undead, constructs, etc. He would still fight, but would use knock-out tactics (the DM generously let me exchange some assassin abilities for some of these) He was very powerful in combat. There was some in-party contention though, when he found out that one of the other PCs was trailing along behind him coup-de-grace'ing all the people he was trying to spare.

The guy I DM'ed for had a cleric of the goddess of healing. I'd made all of the clerics in my 2E campaign specialist clerics with custom abilities, so while the class was forbidden from attacking with weapons or spells, they also had very strong healing ability and a variety of abilities to make up for it, the strongest of which was a permanent sanctuary-like effect. This PC's contributions to the game were very valuable and respected by the other players. It also helped that the campaign was roughly equal parts combat, social, and exploration, so the PC had no hindrances for much of the play time. The most memorable moment was when the cleric stepped between a sorely wounded PC and an enemy, counting on his sanctuary to protect him and trying to persuade the enemy of the virtue of non-violence. Unfortunately for him, I rolled a 19 for the enemy's save and the cleric ended up pinned to the wall like a bug in a case, but it was still a noble attempt.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
You aren't a pacifist just because you don't attack people. It's more accurate to ask if anyone's played a non-violent character.

No.

And from an RPG perspective, it's almost impossible to balance the game for a pacifist hero.

The problem with the pacifist is that to overcome problems, they have to be either basically invulnerable or else some form of diplomancer.

And to make them good enough at those things to compensate for the fact that they have no fall back options if their first recourse fails, then basically they have to be good enough to handle challenges solo.

And any character that can handle a challenge solo is a poor fit for an RPG which is normally a social exercise involving group cooperation.

Worse, you end up in a situation where the approaches that the characters have to problem solving are so radically different, that it becomes nearly impossible to explain why they continue to work together. Allowing someone else to commit violence on your behalf isn't really pacifism.
 

innerdude

Legend
. . . from an RPG perspective, it's almost impossible to balance the game for a pacifist hero.

The problem with the pacifist is that to overcome problems, they have to be either basically invulnerable or else some form of diplomancer.

And to make them good enough at those things to compensate for the fact that they have no fall back options if their first recourse fails, then basically they have to be good enough to handle challenges solo.

Not true.

Savage Worlds robustly supports the idea of a pacifistic PC --- it even includes a hindrance called "Pacifist." The system also supports a variety of combat actions that don't automatically assume lethal violence --- tricks, tests of will, unarmed combat that allows for non-lethal damage, a ranged combat system that makes it easy to support a character using drugged darts to knock players unconscious, etc.
 

Celebrim

Legend
The system also supports a variety of combat actions that don't automatically assume lethal violence --- tricks, tests of will, unarmed combat that allows for non-lethal damage, a ranged combat system that makes it easy to support a character using drugged darts to knock players unconscious, etc.

None of which would meet the common definition of pacifism.

Pretty much any system can support non-strict pacifists. If Batman qualifies as a pacifist, then sure, most systems can support that.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
We were playing Arcana Evolved and one player was playing an anti-violence Greenbond (basically a healer type).

His most potent threat was, "Stop now or I won't heal you."

He made good on that threat many times, and no one ever noticed. (He usually delivered it to people attacking us.)

The simple fact is that most RPGs are action-oriented. As in "Action-Hero", as in "violent".

Or, to quote an unnamed peasant in an infamous British comedy, "Come see the violence inherent in the system!!!" :)
 


I DM'd for a player that would refrain from taking lives and would usually try diplomacy if given a chance. She dealt only nonlethal damage, would take prisoners and turn them over to the local constabulary. If the party was far from civilization, she would spare her foes if they swore an oath to not interfere. I think I had the baddies break their vow once, maybe twice, in the course of the game. When the rest of the party dealt with the betrayal, she made no move to spare them a second time. The PC was kind not stupid.

She got a long well with the party because she wasn't preachy about her ideals. If the fighter killed his opponent that was on him. But if she took someone prisoner or knocked out her opponent she expected that person to be treated kindly.

As a DM I've had a few people bring to me characters with Vow of Peace. This is something I only allow after buy in from the entire party. It's never passed a group vote.

I've toyed with the idea of a PC that is a benevolent healer. But unless it was some sort of solo campaign I don't feel that it would mesh in a game that is played cooperatively with a group. Best to leave something like that to NPCs.
 

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