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How much RP set up should a DM do for players?

So started a new game. This is a 'general' question, but if it matters the game is the (Old School) Marvel Superheroes game. So everyone makes custom heroes. Sally loves Deadpool, so she makes a Deadpool-like character("Deathbrush"). So the game starts, and we have had a couple sessions now. And Sally only makes maybe one "Deadpool like pop culture reference". At the end of our last game Sally made a quick comment that she would like me to add more pop culture references to set her up so she could make a "deadpool like comment on them". We did not get to talk about it, as she just said it and her ride showed up and she ran off.

So, now I'm getting ready to send an e-mail to her......

So....my default answer would be "no I won't set up stuff for you". Though, talking with another player, Alex, she did think it was a good idea that I "set up" more things for Sally so she could "Deadpool comment" them. Alex says "lots of games do stuff like that?"

So that is the basic question: How much RP set up should a DM do for players?

I really don't like the silly "a pack of rabid werewolves attack...oh and Bob, one werewolf is a charisma based foe for your character", just so as while the rest of the group fights the battle, Bob can be off in a spot using his "Face" character.

Now...more on the "Deadpool" problem. So Sally is mid 20 something. So her knowledge of pop culture is only about 2010 until now. But, it's very focused on only "what she likes". She does not watch much TV, watch movies or follow the news. She is on Ticktock and YouTube and follows some "influencers", but not too much more. She does not even know a lot of "classic" pop culture....like she knows Wizard of Oz is a movie...but has not seen it and knows nothing about it.

So, the big reason Sally does not have more "Deadpool sayings", is she does not have much of a "pool" to draw from. Deadpool looks at things that happen and makes a wacky pop culture reference. Though Deadpool(aka his writers) have a huge ocean of pop culture to draw on. And too, it does take skill and creativity to see something and be able to remember and make a reference.

Just to take myself....I know a ton ton of pop culture from the last 75 years or so. This would make it easy for me to play a Deadpool character. In the third game, the heroes went into the New York City sewers...and my first though was "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and when they moved into some caves "Fragile Rock". Sally , said nothing, as I'm sure she does not know either reference. So really, it seems Sally picked a character she can't really role play well.....

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A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm all for setting up RP opportunities for the various PCs. But there are two big caveats:

1. Share the spot light. If you are going out of the way to give this one player her special moments, make sure you provide similar opportunities for other players.

2. I have my limits. I'm only going to do this where I am able and where I'm comfortable.

In your example, I'm not sure that I would share sufficient pop references with the player to give her what she is hoping for. I would ask her to brainstorm and e-mail me a list of pop references for movies, books, internet memes, etc. that she is familiar with and enjoys. That would give me something to try to work into the sessions.

Another approach is to simply say that I just don't think that I can inject obvious opportunities for Deadpool-style commentary, without it being hamfisted. But maybe encourage her to do the work by giving some mechanical benefit when she comes up with something. I'm not familiar with the system you are playing. In D&D, inspiration is the most obvious metacurrency for something like this. Not sure if Marvel Superheros has an equivalent. You could even draw in other players, asking them to give her ideas. I don't know your players, so I don't know if they would welcome or balk at this idea.

Bottom line: while I'm a big believer in providing opportunities for PCs to have their special moments, I reject any responsibility to take on additional burdens to design sessions around bespoke requests. Don't be guilted into doing something you are uncomfortable with or which makes running the game more of a burden or unfun for you.


Trust the Fungus
I'm really not going to sit here and try to give you advice about how much you should set players up for character moments... especially since you already tried and the player didn't step up. But I'll tell you that I would self-defense an entire orphanage off a cliff to get players willing to pull me aside and ask me to give them setups like that.

The whole thing. Right into the sea.


Maybe you could say that as the GM, you don't have time between personal and work life, and prepping the game to research and set such opportunities up. But she could provide suggestions and pop culture references that she is aware of and ask her fellow players to help set up such moments in the game. Have them bring something up from that list, that she can then bounce off with an appropriate response. Seeking help and advice from fellow players is just as viable as trying to get the GM to help out.

1. Ask her what her favorite movies books are. If you've read or seen them (you have 75 years to reference), you can just throw stuff in. It doesn't even need to be part of a main event or encounter. It could just be part of description. Like, maybe she knows about TMNT but didn't put it together. Noting, as part of the description of the sewers that a company was pouring toxic waste down there back in the 80s might be that extra hint.

I definitely wouldn't go so far as to customize encounters for her - at least not all the time. Maybe once in a blue moon but I'd do that for all the PCs at some point.

2. "Here's some really cool movies/books. Watch/read these. I'll try to throw some stuff in there that might relate."

That's the only thing I can think of. You know what adventures are coming up and, instead of spoon feeding her lines to use, you can offer a bunch of 'pop culture' education that might fit your scenes and then you can let her come up with her own pop culture jokes.

Then, at least, you're educating her as well as helping her out.

Beyond that, sometimes playing a specific character is a bad fit. I try not to play quick-witted characters because I'm really bad at one-timers and thinking on my feet.

Over time, her character will develop a natural personality that isn't too fixed on being a copy of some trope and will be more an extension of the player.


Maybe she can play her character more like this and not exactly Deadpoolish if she cannot pull it off.


The player should make a list of quips and bring it with her and use them as they come up (checking them off so as not to get repetitive). Players have one responsibility: playing their characters.

That said, there is nothing wrong with tee-ing one up for her now and again. If she never swings, I would probably make it an in joke and do it ALL THE TIME.


I really don't like the silly "a pack of rabid werewolves attack...oh and Bob, one werewolf is a charisma based foe for your character", just so as while the rest of the group fights the battle, Bob can be off in a spot using his "Face" character.
This is a different issue, though. The player's PCs are a list of things they want to do in the game. If someone made a face character, they want to talk their way into and out of situations. It is your job as GM to present them with things their characters can do -- especially, IMO, in a super hero game.

The DM job is to setup a variety of NPCs with different motivations, abilities, strength and weakness.

While a player playing a Deadpool inspired character has to find a way to place sarcasms, opposition to authority, gross, laughing at violence and death. that could be done without any pop culture reference.

but he should not forget that there is an hidden hero with a kind heart inside any Deadpool character.


the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
I think the point of Deadpool's commentary is he observes what he experiences and draws a comparison to a pop culture reference. You can't easily set that up for another person without knowing 1) what pop culture sources they have seen and remember, and 2) the path their brain will take to "connect the dots" to a pop culture reference when presented with a specific event in the game.

It's more on the player to be quick-witted, able to see things from different perspectives, and recognize similarities/parallels/analogies on the fly. Then they have to be funny. This is why writers work for months or years on a two hour movie script.

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