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Realistic Consequences vs Gameplay

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
As an aside, I wish we could get away from the idea that the GM kills the PCs. That’s not fair to put that responsibilty on one person. The GM presents interesting situations/problems/obstacles and describes how the world reacts to what the PCs do. If you do stuff that’s likely to get you killed you are likely going to get killed sooner or later.
I agree with @the Jester that in this case the characters seem to be committing elaborate suicide. While I think it's possible for a GM to go past any semblance of fairness in the direction of killing the characters, I don't think that's happening here.
 

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Numidius

Explorer
I can understand that, but if the player decided his character was going to act that way because the player was bored or because the player just was expecting a different kind of game, it's kinda an OOC problem, so solving it OOC is likely to be easier and more likely to work than solving it IC. My takeaway from the OP was that this was a player decision, not something inherent in the character.
That's reasonable, but since the OP said it is a campaign going on, even if the players acted out of boredom, that seems to me a general declaration of intent and a sort of specific plot twist.
Not exactly something wrong per se.

"To ruin the campaign", I don't think so, actually maybe revitalize it, if the two of them were already bored and the others might just wait to see what happens, without engaging that much.

Consequences, yes, of course. Not as a punishment, tho, but as an opportunity for everyone, starting from the Gm showing concern and interest in those unfortunate exploits and will to build from there.

I admit I have been there, done that, as a player in the past, but I had a PLAN! A glorious plan... The Gm thought otherwise.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Sir Fang's Dentist
@Snarf Zagyg now I want to do Blades in the Dark hack of The Wire. Omar comin’!
A man gotta have a code.

As an aside, I wish we could get away from the idea that the GM kills the PCs. That’s not fair to put that responsibilty on one person. The GM presents interesting situations/problems/obstacles and describes how the world reacts to what the PCs do. If you do stuff that’s likely to get you killed you are likely going to get killed sooner or later.
Every game is different, but this is certainly true as far as I'm concerned. There is no real player empowerment if the DM is constantly intervening to save you from your own dumb mistakes; I get no joy from triumphing if I know that the DM is going to bail me out of my defeats.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I'm not fond of OOC discussions. I prefer to resolve things IC.
I'm a, "mature adults talk to each other," kind of guy. Resolving things IC is often a passive-aggressive route to misunderstanding and bad feelings all around at the table. You don't resolve questions like, "What are you expecting in the game?" by in-game action.

In this case, I don't see a reasonable expectation that laying hands on the person of the King was not going to end badly for the PCs, so I'm okay with holding them to their choices. A bit of discussion as to why they made those choices is perhaps warranted, though.
 


Mallus

Hero
That night they were given several opportunities to escape the stocks, but the would-be assassin failed and the instigator said he would rather die than let this corrupt man stay in power.
What's a DM to do? Let it play out how it would in reality (execution) or break verisimilitude and reward murder-hoboism and let them escape with a deus ex machina?
Sounds like the perfect time to introduce a group of rebels talented enough to pull off a daring daytime rescue but with several key leadership positions unfilled!

Not the end of a campaign, just an unforeseen plot-twist. Remember, it's not realism so much as verisimilitude to pulp adventure stories we're aiming for (usually).

I mean, if a hot-headed hero can't pull a shiv on a terrible king, why are we even playing?
 
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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I agree with others that this is largely an out-of-game issue that should be handled and decided upon by the group in order to get back on track.

How long did this scene go on for before the one dude started shouting at the ruler?
 

Numidius

Explorer
I'm a, "mature adults talk to each other," kind of guy. Resolving things IC is often a passive-aggressive route to misunderstanding and bad feelings all around at the table. You don't resolve questions like, "What are you expecting in the game?" by in-game action.

In this case, I don't see a reasonable expectation that laying hands on the person of the King was not going to end badly for the PCs, so I'm okay with holding them to their choices. A bit of discussion as to why they made those choices is perhaps warranted, though.
Sure. They infact already had a chat about it after the session, as @Retreater informed us in the opening post.

I'd like to offer a point of view that goes beyond the initial aut-aut: killing them vs deus ex machina, involving everyone at the table to consider & engage the present in-game situation, in particular from the Gm, who has authority to refrain from instruct them OOC and also to be creative in the following fiction.

I see a convenient correspondence between the temper of the player and the hypothetical feelings among a part of the subjects of the kingdom about the lunatic tyrant.
So if a lesson is to be taught, let it be by the king to the masses via the Pcs and not the Gm to the players.

Show, don't tell.
 

Have the King recognize their desire for violence, and send them on a mission where they can use their skills to his benefit. Use the Gaes spell or other magical means to compel their cooperation.

It seems to me the issue isn’t really with the characters, as others have pointed out. Killing the PCs and replacing them may result in the same problems.

So I’d say channel it.
 

Jaeger

Adventurer
... "It's time for a new character"!
... Hang them on board. New pcs for the players.
This!

Because:


Actions have consequences. You established what those consequences would be, and two of the pcs spat in the eye of those potential consequences. If they don't suffer those consequences, you will have undermined yourself thoroughly-...
...Your job is not to keep the PCs alive. It’s to present a realistic and consistent world. Do what you think would happen if this was real life.
...
Take it to them. Off with their heads!

Then take out new character sheets.

And if necessary emphasize that: the campaign is not ruined.

If anything, they just gave you more plot hooks. And things could get really interesting if one of the new PC is related to one of the excecuted ones.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The personalities involved and why make a big difference to the primary goal of the game - everyone have fun. And that's really going to determine how to resolve this to best fit the goal of the hobby.

Outside that, here's one way I can see it playing out.

Don't spend more time on the bored and the attacker except to have a public execution scene. The other players can intervene if they wish to try to save them, but be clear to the two players to have new characters ready.

That said, the one who attempted to kill the king and is willing to accept the consequences gets some respect from me - he wasn't the one who caused the issue, but once it happened he attempted to save the party. I would have the attempted coup be the catylist for a revolt that will grow over the next few levels, and give the player who attempted to kill the king the bennie with their new character that they can be (at their discretion) well connected with the leaders of the rebellion.

As a DM, I'd be thrilled to have something as dynamic as a PC-action inspired rebellion going on.

As a side note, if it wasn't such a think - attempted regicide against an unstable king known for harsh punishment against dissent, I would have just used this as an opprtunity to show that character failure just leads to a different branch of the story, and isn't a bad thing from the player perspective of having fun, as much as it might not be a place the character is looking to be.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
For this affront, the ruler yelled for his guards to come and arrest that character. In response, another party member tried (and failed) to grapple the ruler and put a knife to his throat to take him as a hostage.
The other two characters left the room and proclaimed their innocence. With some good roleplay (and great dice rolls) they were able to convince the ruler and his guards that they had no part of the attack and were allowed to leave.
The two other characters (the would-be assassin and the instigator) were taken to the public stocks to await trial that could end in execution (or at the very least, expulsion from the land).
It sounds like the player had the idea to make the character do "suicide by cop"...
 

Retreater

Legend
To address some of the earlier questions....
The encounter with the crazed despot hadn't been going on for long (only a few minutes). There had been a string of roleplay heavy sessions leading up to it, however, with most of them having only a combat or two - so the boredom may have been setting in over a few weeks and this had been the tipping point. Still, I try to communicate to the players at the start of the campaign and check in after each session to make sure they're having fun.
The hot-headed player who seemed to get bored with the encounter also happens to be a good friend I've gamed with for more than 20 years. It's not out of character for him to do something irrational like this, but this isn't a dungeon hack without consequences, something I've tried to instill in the group. The other player (would-be assassin) just went along with it to try to salvage a bad situation in the heat of the moment.
I had put them in contact with revolutionaries in the town over the past couple sessions. The more extreme faction (who called for the removal of the ruler) had been blown off [strangely, by the hot-headed player] and the party had been unwilling to take sides.
A lieutenant of the mad ruler even offered to return the weapons to the party and free them from the stockades under the promise that they leave town and never return. He said he would just tell the ruler he had killed them during an escape attempt, because even the lieutenant was tired of all the bloodshed. [And I feel like this was giving in too much as a DM.] Even this compromise was unacceptable to the hot-headed player.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
Execute them. But then their images show up in pamphlets and their efforts are immortalized in song. A rebellion brews after the deaths of the two ‘heroic’ would be assassins.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I've executed PCs before. When we were playing Oriental Adventures, the wu jen character made a rash decision and murdered a retired emperor (father of the current one, who had abdicated to life in a monastery). He tried to hide it but was found out (and, in fact, committed murder again to try to cover up). He was executed by boiling him alive in oil. Of his traveling companions, the cook/ninja was murdered in a prison fight (really, assassinated), the monk died in prison, the samurai committed seppuku and thus saved his family honor from the stain of being associated, even tangentially, with someone who murdered an imperial patriarch.

My players were largely fine with it and recognized that mistakes had been made - by themselves - so the only disappointment they had was for a few ill-made choices of theirs.

So, yeah, execute the pair. It's what I would do. Don't have NPCs save them out of the blue. Any attempt to thwart the execution that doesn't come from the PCs seems a bit too deus ex machina to me. Sometimes you have to lie in the bed you make.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Show, don't tell.
That is for fiction. It is not suitable for working out the table agreement/social contract. Statement that they'd gotten an apology for "ruining the campaign" does not indicate to me that they'd gotten to the reason why the players did this, understood it fully, and knew how to proceed so that everyone is okay going forward.

Despite my quick answer above... I am coming to think even more that, whatever happens with the game plot, that there may be need for discussion among the people to make sure they don't end up in another problematic situation in the future.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Execute them. But then their images show up in pamphlets and their efforts are immortalized in song. A rebellion brews after the deaths of the two ‘heroic’ would be assassins.
If, in fact, the whole thing is kind of the GM's fault ("We told you we hated this kind of scene, but you did it anyway," or somesuch) then yes. If they did it because they were acting out over something else, acting in impatience without talking about it first, or otherwise being a jerk at the table... no. You don't get rewarded for bad behavior.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As an anything-goes type of DM and somewhat-chaotic type of player I applaud the two who stirred the pot! :)

But now they're gonna pay for it in-fiction, either with loss of heads or a forced-quest mission with no hope of profit or whatever; and that's fine too. Because while anything goes, usually somewhat-predictable consequences follow.

Ages ago I had a vaguely similar thing happen: the party - all of 'em! - decided to turn the planting of the beans from a Bag of Beans into a public show, and sold tickets etc. Things went well until the last bean, which summoned a huge ancient Cloud Dragon into the main square of the city. Many civilian deaths* and a King's-word-is-the-law trial later, the PC originator of the idea was hanged, interdict was laid against reviving any PCs killed by the Dragon, and the PC survivors were banished form the land and put into a forced-quest adventure.

* - and a near-miss for the Crown Prince, who had left the square just moments before...
 

Numidius

Explorer
That is for fiction. It is not suitable for working out the table agreement/social contract. Statement that they'd gotten an apology for "ruining the campaign" does not indicate to me that they'd gotten to the reason why the players did this, understood it fully, and knew how to proceed so that everyone is okay going forward.

Despite my quick answer above... I am coming to think even more that, whatever happens with the game plot, that there may be need for discussion among the people to make sure they don't end up in another problematic situation in the future.
Fiction. Yes. From the additional info @Retreater has now added as backstory to this point, looks like the players are pretty engaged with the fiction/story, especially the "problematic duo".
I am actually more convinced that the situation should be dealed with in-game. Events have snowballed fast in the last session cause of the players, after some time of roleplaying in the setting. Maybe it is time for an avalanche by the Gm thru his Npc factions?
 

Numidius

Explorer
Pace. To me this is a matter of pacing. The Gm slowly (apparently) built the situation; the players suddenly forced a change of pace. I like it. The rebellious factions should like it, and maybe the critical mass for a revolt in the kingdom (or whatever is in the Dm notes) is soon to be reached.
 

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