log in or register to remove this ad

 

Realistic Consequences vs Gameplay

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I can't (and won't try to) speak for the other two, but I'd find the behavior of the player whose character insulted the tyrant while I was negotiating with him to be literally infuriating. You're not only keeping my character from achieving the goal of the negotiation now, you're keeping my character from ever achieving that goal with this NPC. It has vibes of PvP to me--and I utterly detest PvP.
The problem is that it takes 2 to tango. I don't believe we can give the DM a pass for playing the NPC to their conception while condemning the player for playing his PC to his conception.

The player insulting the tyrant didn't cause the negotiation to end. The DM choosing to have the NPC react that way did. Was such a potentially realistic NPC reaction? YES! But it wasn't the only realistic NPC reaction.

IMO. A DM should strive to play an NPC such that one or two remarks by one of the players will not totally upend the other players fun (in this case if other players were having fun negotiating then the potentially realistic NPC reaction to the insult was the wrong potentially realistic NPC reaction to go with). IMO the NPC's reaction, which the DM controls, is the direct cause of the negotiating fun ending, so why not lay the blame on the DM where it appears to belong?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The PC is part of the shared world. The PC is being retired by the player. Therefore someone else (namely the DM) needs to operate the character.
Massive disconnect here.

The PC is being retired by the player thus is (for now or forever) no longer adventuring; but the player still controls what it does in its retirement. This can be as simple as saying "I stay in town and do spell research for a few years." (which really needs little if any further input from anyone until those few years are up) or as complex as "I hire a ship and a crew and where the map is blank, I go." (which probably means a night in the pub sometime where you and the player determine what becomes of this voyage).

Can the player decide to reprise his ownership?
Reprise his ownership? Ownership never left the player in the first place!

Maybe, depending on the reason for retirement. Can the player use the PC in a different campaign? Sure! But the currently operating campaign exists with that character in it. The world is not altered by the player taking a different PC.
Ah...something's beginning to dawn on me here - are you coming from a strict standpoint of "a player may only ever have one PC in the campaign world at a time"? Because if this is so, there's another big disconnect: as both player and DM I expect players to end up with several (or more!) PCs out there in the game world, of whom one or two are active at any given time.

In the game I play in, I currently have nine. One is in the party we'll (I think) be playing tonight. Another three are in three other active parties, each currently on hold while we play this one. One is retired for now; one is retired probably forever, but they are both still mine. One has in effect made herself a hench to another player's PC and if asked I'd hand her over either to that player or the DM. And two who I had thought were long-term dead were recently found and rescued (one) and revived (the other), so in that party I'll have three active PCs if-when we get back to it, at least for the remainder of that adventure. (I've good in-character reasons to split 'em up afterwards)

I as DM control the freaking universe outside the purview of the PC(s) directly under the players' control. If you retire your control over a PC voluntarily or involuntarily, that character now belongs to me.
Retiring my PC from adventuring is my choice, and a common enough occurrence. Retiring my control over that PC - particularly if I'm still otherwise in the game - is also my choice and mine alone, and is an extremely rare occurrence. The two choices are not tied together.

That, and often I'm retiring one PC in order to cycle another back in; and in a year I might reverse the process. Gets boring playing the same one all the time. :)

Most of the time there won't be conflict because I have no vested interest in controlling one particular NPC over another and in fact have a minor vested interest in reducing the spotlight on a former PC. Sometimes, crap happens though and a particular NPC is best suited to a situation. If that happens to be a former PC, OK. I'll try to portray the character sensibly and within its established history and characterization as I would any other character.
If that PC's player is still in the game the PC is the player's to control.

If that PC's player has left the game I'll only use it with the player's permission (if I can contact said player) or I won't use it at all. The exceptions to this are a) having old characters reappear in something like a dream sequence, that has no lasting impact on anything or b) active PCs touching base with retired characters to keep up friendships, exchange info, and the like.

The former player may or may not be invited to provide input as I deem appropriate.
Even if that player is still sitting there at the table?

The NPC may or may not be eligible to be promoted back to PC status depending on their new role in the campaign.
This touches on a whole different can o' worms, that being adventuring NPCs and their status within the party. I treat 'em just like PCs, as do the players; mostly because the PCs in the fiction would treat them as just one of the team.

If the players come back a few months later to recruit a former PC, assuming it is available and still appropriate for PC status, the player will be faced with a choice: which PC does the player wish to control? The new PC or the old PC. Pick one. The other is a NPC.
Again a hard one-PC-per-player stance; I'd almost always allow the player to run both; even more so in this case because it's the other players (as PCs) seeking out that character.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
The problem is that it takes 2 to tango. I don't believe we can give the DM a pass for playing the NPC to their conception while condemning the player for playing his PC to his conception.
In principle, I'm willing to agree with you, except for the description of the player's motivations as being (paraphrasing) "probably boredom" and not any deep conception of his character.

IMO. A DM should strive to play an NPC such that one or two remarks by one of the players will not totally upend the other players fun (in this case if other players were having fun negotiating then the potentially realistic NPC reaction to the insult was the wrong potentially realistic NPC reaction to go with). IMO the NPC's reaction, which the DM controls, is the direct cause of the negotiating fun ending, so why not lay the blame on the DM where it appears to belong?
Yes, that's a reasonable way to prep an NPC, but it's not the only way to prep an NPC. And I think it's cute that you think the player would have stopped with just the one insult. I'm probably more than a little twitchy, here (I've played with someone like this, I think) but a player willing to insult the NPC I'm negotiating with is willing to insult that NPC again; how many insults is it realistic for a tyrant to tolerate? I blame the player who was "probably bored" and decided to spit on someone else's fun. Yes, there were probably GM-side alternatives, but once a player decides to be disruptive it tends to turn into an out-of-game problem with in-game implications.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Yeah, we generally don't run the types of characters that can't be trusted by the party, as it puts a serious strain on the credulity of why the characters are even tolerating this person in their group. Obviously, it's simply because that character is a PC, but that's based entirely on meta information, not on what the PCs would actually do. So we don't really do that these days. The PC can be untrustworthy towards people outside a party, but they don't violate the party's trust.
That the party knows about.

Only an idiot PC would break a party's trust in such a way as to allow the party to find out about it.

Then again, look at the first three Pirates of the Caribbean. In the end nobody trusts anybody in that series, but when they have to they work together - until the danger has passed at which point they stab each other in the back. Great stuff!

"I'm not sure I want rescue from you lot. Four of you have tried to kill me in the past; one of you succeeded." - Jack Sparrow, while in Davy Jones' locker.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
In principle, I'm willing to agree with you, except for the description of the player's motivations as being (paraphrasing) "probably boredom" and not any deep conception of his character.
1. Did the player himself say it was boredom or is that just speculation?
2. What does it matter if the player was bored and also had their PC do something that was realistic for their PC to do? It seems to me that could just as easily be categorized as good play.

I think what often gets pushed as disruptive player behavior isn't actually disruptive behavior at all.

Yes, that's a reasonable way to prep an NPC, but it's not the only way to prep an NPC.
It is if you want the group as a whole to have fun. 1 dimensional NPC's that have to be solved as a puzzle are always going to lead to situations like what we had here.

And I think it's cute that you think the player would have stopped with just the one insult.
1. You never gave him a chance with clear stakes to see where that path led.

I'm probably more than a little twitchy, here (I've played with someone like this, I think) but a player willing to insult the NPC I'm negotiating with is willing to insult that NPC again; how many insults is it realistic for a tyrant to tolerate?
I think the best answer there is he would tolerate as many as the other players talk him into tolerating.

I blame the player who was "probably bored" and decided to spit on someone else's fun. Yes, there were probably GM-side alternatives, but once a player decides to be disruptive it tends to turn into an out-of-game problem with in-game implications.
The DM chose the NPC reaction. That's at the DMs feet. You keep calling the player disruptive with nothing to support that notion - nor whether it was justifiable for him to be bored in the first place.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Because I expect the insulted character to remember that insult, and I probably used all of PC B's good mojo not getting roped into PC A's idiocy?
Maybe PC A thinks the whole talky idea is idiocy in the first place, guesses (rightly or wrongly) it's doomed to failure, and starts what he sees as the inevitable brawl before someone else starts it for him...

And sure, if it's in PC B's nature to remember this and take it up with PC A later, that's fine too. Maybe they argue over it. Maybe they even fight over it. So what? Let 'em.
Because I expect goals passed up or missed not to be available again via the same path?
Assuming they were ever available on that path to begin with; but you-as-player likely have no way of knowing that.

It's clear we have pretty wildly different expectations of play in most cases, in terms of the fiction and in terms of the rules of the game and in terms of player behavior around the table.
Not sure what the different expectations around the fiction would be - I think there's general consensus here that we all want the fiction to be more or less consistent with itself and have at least some amount of internal logic such that outcomes that do occur usually fall with the predictable range of outcomes that could occur.

As for player behavior around the table: as long as it stays in character, follow your character wherever it leads you.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The problem is that it takes 2 to tango. I don't believe we can give the DM a pass for playing the NPC to their conception while condemning the player for playing his PC to his conception.

The player insulting the tyrant didn't cause the negotiation to end. The DM choosing to have the NPC react that way did. Was such a potentially realistic NPC reaction? YES! But it wasn't the only realistic NPC reaction.

IMO. A DM should strive to play an NPC such that one or two remarks by one of the players will not totally upend the other players fun (in this case if other players were having fun negotiating then the potentially realistic NPC reaction to the insult was the wrong potentially realistic NPC reaction to go with). IMO the NPC's reaction, which the DM controls, is the direct cause of the negotiating fun ending, so why not lay the blame on the DM where it appears to belong?
I say we give them both a pass for playing their characters to their conception, and that there's no real blame to lay on either.

Something that's come up here a few times is concern for a DM sticking too rigidly to what's in her mind as to how a scene might play out; but note the same can also be said about players either individually or as a group: sometimes one or more players won't let go of a plan* even after unfolding events show that plan isn't the best.

* - often it's the players most involved with making said plan that are the most reluctant to let it go.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I say we give them both a pass for playing their characters to their conception, and that there's no real blame to lay on either.
I agree with the rest but this sentence I don't.

I agree with the general notion that players sticking to rigidly to their character conception and not considering alternative courses of action that are also plausible for their character is often a detriment to the game. And the same most definitely applies to DMs.

But in this scenario and in general also - a single insult from a single PC shouldn't solely derail and escalate an otherwise peaceful negotiation to violence. So I think we have enough from this situation to show that it's the DMs whose action should have been different to potentially change the outcome.

That said in general, the player typically could have also chosen a different plausible course of action thus it's usually the case that the blame rests equally on both the DM and the player.

Something that's come up here a few times is concern for a DM sticking too rigidly to what's in her mind as to how a scene might play out; but note the same can also be said about players either individually or as a group: sometimes one or more players won't let go of a plan* even after unfolding events show that plan isn't the best.

* - often it's the players most involved with making said plan that are the most reluctant to let it go.
This I agree with.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
@prabe @billd91 @Fanaelialae

I personally find that level of group coordination extraordinary. I do not think it should be taken as a given.

For my part a good deal of how I learned to run games is focused on getting players to play their characters as individuals. If a character is present on the scene during a social interaction I would expect that they would be actively involved in the negotiations. If they were not NPCs would bring that up. I might also ask them questions about how they see things.

Now if they are like not in the scene because they are doing other things or are on the other side of the room that's one thing. If they interrupt when I am specifically addressing someone else that's another. If your character is physically present you are in the scene.

Of course at the end of the day a lot of this confusion comes from the lack of instruction provided to players and GMs by the game. There is no meaningful sense of where your priorities ought to be so unless that is resolved by group explicitly you are apt to run into mismatched play priorities.
You're arguably right. My group certainly wasn't like that when we first got together something like 20 years ago. It was something that developed over time, and was nurtured in newcomers as they joined our game.

That said, I don't think it's an unreasonable thing to expect from mature players (if they're teenagers or something, it probably is entirely unreasonable). That's not to imply that not playing this way is immature. Mature players might enjoy non-cooperative play, and if that's their dynamic then sure, why not.

I mean, to me the fact that you should play a cooperative game cooperatively is not that much different from being aware that you shouldn't "accidentally" trip your own teammates in basketball just because you want the ball to be passed to you. It's not obvious to everyone, but I feel like for most people it is reasonably intuitive. Even back before we reached our current level of coordination, there was a general acknowledgment from most players that antagonistic play wasn't... ideal. If only because it tended to cause real world arguments and bad feelings.

It's one thing for the players to riff off each other and decide that the barbarian is going to cut the boring negotiation short by attacking the mad tyrant. It's another thing for the barbarian to pull the rug out from under the negotiator by ruining a scene that the negotiator was engaging with. Even in groups where players don't side bar to come to an agreement on the direction to go, you still often see this kind of play. It might be the DM looking at the other players and asking "are you going to let him do that". Or the negotiating player might look at the barbarian player askance and say, "come on man, let me do my thing". Certainly not every table does this, but I don't think it's a rare playstyle. We just cut out the risk of clashing egos by having a polite OOC conversation about it, which is a slightly more direct way of going about the same thing.

That the party knows about.

Only an idiot PC would break a party's trust in such a way as to allow the party to find out about it.

Then again, look at the first three Pirates of the Caribbean. In the end nobody trusts anybody in that series, but when they have to they work together - until the danger has passed at which point they stab each other in the back. Great stuff!

"I'm not sure I want rescue from you lot. Four of you have tried to kill me in the past; one of you succeeded." - Jack Sparrow, while in Davy Jones' locker.
No, because either it's such a trivial act that no one cares, or it eventually comes to light, at which point the only reason they stick together is that they're PCs (or the equivalent of PCs in the case of the pirates movies, which I've watched because my wife likes them but aren't exactly my favorite movies).

We once played an evil campaign where one of the players was a homebrew torturer class who could make a person or animal into their minion by breaking their will. My character was a medic who always found the good in everyone, especially those who didn't deserve it, and was also the leader of the party. The torturer played it up that he had rescued his minions from terrible conditions (explaining the injuries he had inflicted). It worked as an excellent dynamic at the table, and everyone was greatly entertained. But the thing is, he wasn't acting against the party's interests. He was simply doing his own thing, which might have caused the party to view him in a different light had it been known. Even had it come to light, my character would have argued his case since he was the worst kind of apologist.

Contrast that with another guy in that same campaign, who was jealous that I was party leader (it was determined by a homebrew reputation system, but I honestly never used it to force anyone to do anything). Ultimately, when it became apparent that he couldn't seize the leader position, he tried to get my character killed and instead caused a TPK that ended the campaign. We don't game with that guy anymore. We used to be more tolerant but eventually came to the conclusion that we don't get enough game time to waste it with people who are willing to ruin everyone's fun for their own selfish reasons.

YMMV
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
A couple of other points.

When we were playing in CoS the burgomaster social encounter was one of the most frustrating I've ever been a part of. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say the adventure itself in that particular aspect probably is the true source of everyones frustration. A DM running an officially published module and trying to be true to it is hard to fault. A truly exceptional DM may have recognized the potential issue with this part and modified it a bit.

I also think DM's and players both are very bad with handling social interactions and part of that is because the social interactions in our sources of inspiration are often quite different from person to person. Perhaps approaching social interaction more from a action/goal methodology would be helpful.
I think if the PC had said "I say X insult to the NPC to show my allies that he is more afraid of us than we are of him". Failure in that context may simply be that the NPC demands more. Extreme failure may be that the NPC arrests the PC and uses him as part of his leverage. Success may have been that allies get advantage.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Maybe PC A thinks the whole talky idea is idiocy in the first place, guesses (rightly or wrongly) it's doomed to failure, and starts what he sees as the inevitable brawl before someone else starts it for him...

And sure, if it's in PC B's nature to remember this and take it up with PC A later, that's fine too. Maybe they argue over it. Maybe they even fight over it. So what? Let 'em.
I really detest PvP and this sort of thing seems likely to lead to it.

Assuming they were ever available on that path to begin with; but you-as-player likely have no way of knowing that.
{/QUOTE]

And because of one player's impatience it's now unknowable. I'd rather find out whether the goal was there myself than have a fellow-PC prevent me from getting there.

Not sure what the different expectations around the fiction would be - I think there's general consensus here that we all want the fiction to be more or less consistent with itself and have at least some amount of internal logic such that outcomes that do occur usually fall with the predictable range of outcomes that could occur.
That sounds good to me, but I think there have been others here who were less interested in internal consistency than you or I are.

As for player behavior around the table: as long as it stays in character, follow your character wherever it leads you.
I'm less sure about this: There is a difference between player and character, but the stories about players using "in character" to excuse asshattery are not all apocryphal. When in doubt, don't be an asshat.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Yes, that's a reasonable way to prep an NPC, but it's not the only way to prep an NPC. And I think it's cute that you think the player would have stopped with just the one insult. I'm probably more than a little twitchy, here (I've played with someone like this, I think) but a player willing to insult the NPC I'm negotiating with is willing to insult that NPC again; how many insults is it realistic for a tyrant to tolerate? I blame the player who was "probably bored" and decided to spit on someone else's fun. Yes, there were probably GM-side alternatives, but once a player decides to be disruptive it tends to turn into an out-of-game problem with in-game implications.
It would depend on the insult, but if it's not to terrible, I'd have the NPC issue a very direct threat in response. A second would be foolish and result in what happened in the OP. The key is to let the player know that another one won't be tolerated.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
1. Did the player himself say it was boredom or is that just speculation?
2. What does it matter if the player was bored and also had their PC do something that was realistic for their PC to do? It seems to me that could just as easily be categorized as good play.

I think what often gets pushed as disruptive player behavior isn't actually disruptive behavior at all.
I reckon we have different definitions of "good play." If the Face is doing Face Things, don't interrupt, any more than you'd want someone to interrupt the Stealth Dude while he was doing Stealth Dude Things, or the I Know That Guy while he's Knowing Things (and probably drinking wine ...). I don't see how stepping on someone else's fun is "good play," especially not if while stepping on someone else's fun you prevent the party from doing what the party was trying to do.

There was a conversation between the OP and the player who insulted the tyrant, where he apologized and might have explained why he did it. I'll admit I haven't gone looking for that, and have been working from the OP's description--he knows the player, after all.


It is if you want the group as a whole to have fun. 1 dimensional NPC's that have to be solved as a puzzle are always going to lead to situations like what we had here.
"Reacts badly to being insulted" is one dimension, yes, and while there could be others this is the button that particular player pushed. It's plausible that the PC/s negotiation with him were finding other dimensions--OP sez that was progressing toward something, at least.


1. You never gave him a chance with clear stakes to see where that path led.

I think the best answer there is he would tolerate as many as the other players talk him into tolerating.
You have played or run the adventure; I have not. Is there really no evidence on which the PCs can base any guesses about the Burgermaster's personality? OP sez the PCs had some idea of whom they were going to be dealing with.

OP also sez there was some roleplay and good rolls that led to the PCs not involved in the insulting or the hostage-taking being able to leave freely-ish. Sounds to me as though they talked him into at least some forbearance.

The DM chose the NPC reaction. That's at the DMs feet. You keep calling the player disruptive with nothing to support that notion - nor whether it was justifiable for him to be bored in the first place.
The player chose the PC's reaction; why are you not laying anything at his feet?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The player chose the PC's reaction; why are you not laying anything at his feet?
Rest later, this first.

I think that perhaps I and others aren't doing a good part of linking our points together because the answer to your question IMO should have been self evident.

The answer in detail is:
The insulting PCs action could have resulted in any number of equally realistic reactions from the NPC. The DM chose a reaction which then caused another PC to choose an action to attempt to take him hostage. So then we work backwards and see whose actions were justified.

The player that attempted to take the NPC hostage - were his actions justified? From a fictional perspective, I think so. From a game perspective - any escalating action that is in direct response to a direct threat toward a party members survival seems justified in the game to me.

Was the NPC's actions justified? From a fictional perspective, I think so. From a game perspective, a single insult in a peaceful negotiation should really not be leading directly toward something that can be perceived as a threat on the PC survival. That's where the NPC's actions fail to be justified.

Was the PC's actions that insulted the NPC justified? From a fictional perspective, I think yes. From a game perspective, I believe they were justified because there is no indication that a single insult will directly lead to a threat to PC survival. In fact, given our analysis above it actually shouldn't have led to that at all.

Thus, I don't see any reason that we can fault either player for what happened.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I reckon we have different definitions of "good play." If the Face is doing Face Things, don't interrupt, any more than you'd want someone to interrupt the Stealth Dude while he was doing Stealth Dude Things, or the I Know That Guy while he's Knowing Things (and probably drinking wine ...). I don't see how stepping on someone else's fun is "good play," especially not if while stepping on someone else's fun you prevent the party from doing what the party was trying to do.
I find the game runs smoother when everyone is involved in every pillar of the game. IMO, every character should be contributing in combat, every character should be contributing in exploration, every character should be contributing in social interaction. You may be the best at one particular pillar but that doesn't mean others sit back and do nothing.

The player that did the insult didn't step on anyones fun. The DM having his NPC respond to that insult in the way he did was the cause of the fun ending.

Will you do me a favor, and before you respond, will you ask yourself whether I could make the point above about it. It just seems pointless to say something you should already know the counterpoint to.

There was a conversation between the OP and the player who insulted the tyrant, where he apologized and might have explained why he did it. I'll admit I haven't gone looking for that, and have been working from the OP's description--he knows the player, after all.
I've apologized many times for actions I felt were perfectly legitimate because someone else took them wrong - especially among friends.

"Reacts badly to being insulted" is one dimension, yes, and while there could be others this is the button that particular player pushed. It's plausible that the PC/s negotiation with him were finding other dimensions--OP sez that was progressing toward something, at least.
Sure. Reacts badly to being insulted doesn't mean will never take an insult from anyone in any situation whatsoever. It also doesn't justify immediately threatening the PC's life by calling "guards".

You have played or run the adventure; I have not. Is there really no evidence on which the PCs can base any guesses about the Burgermaster's personality? OP sez the PCs had some idea of whom they were going to be dealing with.
I've played it a long time ago. So exact details I can't tell you. I've just got general impressions at this point.

OP also sez there was some roleplay and good rolls that led to the PCs not involved in the insulting or the hostage-taking being able to leave freely-ish. Sounds to me as though they talked him into at least some forbearance.
Sure. No one said that part didn't run smoothly. Just the part leading up to it. Anyways, speaking of that part, it bothers me that 2 PC's would disavow their companions and want to leave them to die.
 
Last edited:

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
Rest later, this first.
Yeah. I have a session to run in a couple of hours, and I don't need to be as cranky I'm clearly getting about this. The PCs have enough problems ...

I think that perhaps I and others aren't doing a good part of linking our points together because the answer to your question IMO should have been self evident.

The answer in detail is:
The insulting PCs action could have resulted in any number of equally realistic reactions from the NPC. The DM chose a reaction which then caused another PC to choose an action to attempt to take him hostage. So then we work backwards and see whose actions were justified.
If you've read the adventure, how realistic are any of those other options. The best one I've seen is a response that makes it clear further insult will not be tolerated (which I predict the player would then test, which would then lead to ... what happened).

The player that attempted to take the NPC hostage - were his actions justified? From a fictional perspective, I think so. From a game perspective - any escalating action that is in direct response to a direct threat toward a party members survival seems justified in the game to me.
I'm ... willing to go along with this, if the information was really so limited that he thought the call for the guards was (for example) to have the PCs arrested and not escorted from the NPC's chambers. There were, however, two other party members who didn't try to take the Burgermaster hostage, so maybe the call for guards was understood differently by the different players/characters? Differently understood does not mean unjustified, to be sure, but it seems to indicate the situation was not as clear as all-a-that.

Was the NPC's actions justified? From a fictional perspective, I think so. From a game perspective, a single insult in a peaceful negotiation should really not be leading directly toward something that can be perceived as a threat on the PC survival. That's where the NPC's actions fail to be justified.
See, I'm seeing it more from a fictional perspective than a game-ish one. The fact there's an in-fiction justification makes the actions justified for me. I don't think that makes those the only justifiable actions, of course, and there is something to be said for making sure the PCs know what the score is before they start doing stuff.

Was the PC's actions that insulted the NPC justified? From a fictional perspective, I think yes. From a game perspective, I believe they were justified because there is no indication that a single insult will directly lead to a threat to PC survival. In fact, given our analysis above it actually shouldn't have led to that at all.
I'm less sure about this. If the PC's plan all along was to use the negotiation as a ruse to get into the chambers and attack the Burgermaster, why not just ... attack the Burgermaster? What does the PC think he's going to accomplish by insulting him? It doesn't sound as though expecting it to make the negotiations go better is reasonable, and if he wanted to draw the Burgermaster into the fight why wasn't he the one to attack the Burgermaster? You can maybe make an argument that the player didn't have a clear picture of the stakes before he declared the character's actions, which is why I see the suggestion @Maxperson made as reasonable, but it doesn't seem to me (based on what the OP said and my experience being at the table with that sort of player) as though that's likely to accomplish anything more than more insults.

Thus, I don't see any reason that we can fault either player for what happened.
And I do. I suspect this is where differences in viewpoint and experiences come into play. Among other things, I'm looking at this from more of a "makes sense as fiction" perspective and you seem to be looking at it from more of a "makes sense as (or makes good) gameplay" perspective. There's something to be said about gameplay, given that it's an actual game, and I genuinely appreciate that perspective, in spite of being cranky about this.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
I find the game runs smoother when everyone is involved in every pillar of the game. IMO, every character should be contributing in combat, every character should be contributing in exploration, every character should be contributing in social interaction. You may be the best at one particular pillar but that doesn't mean others sit back and do nothing.

The player that did the insult didn't step on anyones fun. The DM having his NPC respond to that insult in the way he did was the cause of the fun ending.

Will you do me a favor, and before you respond, will you ask yourself whether I could make the point above about it. It just seems pointless to say something you should already know the counterpoint to.

{snip}

Sure. No one said that part didn't run smoothly. Just the part leading up to it. Anyways, speaking of that part, it bothers me that 2 PC's would disavow their companions and want to leave them to die.
I think the root of my reaction to this is being stuck (to the extent one can really be stuck--all I can say is I was younger and I didn't have many friends into TRPGs) in a group with a player who was persistently disruptive in a way similar to how this player (arguably) was. He persisted in making dumb-ass smart-ass comments and insulting every NPC we came across, especially the ones we were trying not to get into fights with, daring the GM to have the NPCs stand up for themselves when it would clearly keep the party from attaining whatever goals we were trying to move toward; as the player with characters built for social interaction in several games with this player, it felt as though he was determined not to let my characters do what they were built to do. It's obvious to me that has shaped my thinking on this.

As far as everyone participating, I agree that's a fine ideal, but not every PC is going to be able to be helpful in every situation. Having a character not do anything in a given scene isn't really any different from splitting the party, which at least one of my parties does often (and which I encourage, because in-fiction it means everyone is doing something, even if at-the-table that's not exactly the case).

As to the PCs leaving their fellows to die, that's most of why I think there's more of a problem among the players than between any players and the DM. It is, frankly, something I can see myself doing as a player if another player behaved that way persistently.

I have tried not to be obtuse in my responses--especially not here, since you were finding my responses frustrating, for which I apologize.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Yeah. I have a session to run in a couple of hours, and I don't need to be as cranky I'm clearly getting about this. The PCs have enough problems ...
LOL. I will gladly be the cause of their demise! Hope you have a good session.

If you've read the adventure, how realistic are any of those other options. The best one I've seen is a response that makes it clear further insult will not be tolerated (which I predict the player would then test, which would then lead to ... what happened).
Possibly. Possibly not. I'll say this, if that happened I would be blaming the player for the same reasons I am now blaming the DM. Doing something after the stakes are clear is on the player and especially if that impacts other players fun when he would have had other legitimate reactions to such a statement of clear stakes then I would soundly list that as the players fault.

I'm ... willing to go along with this, if the information was really so limited that he thought the call for the guards was (for example) to have the PCs arrested and not escorted from the NPC's chambers. There were, however, two other party members who didn't try to take the Burgermaster hostage, so maybe the call for guards was understood differently by the different players/characters? Differently understood does not mean unjustified, to be sure, but it seems to indicate the situation was not as clear as all-a-that.
I would say that illustrates why it's a justification. Half the PC's took the calling of guards 1 way and the other half the other. That means the action of calling the guards was ambiguous at best. Which is exactly my point. It's not that the NPC's intent needs to be to kill the player's its that the players can legitimately see that as a plausible motive and thus they are justified in reacting as if their lives are on the line.

See, I'm seeing it more from a fictional perspective than a game-ish one. The fact there's an in-fiction justification makes the actions justified for me. I don't think that makes those the only justifiable actions, of course, and there is something to be said for making sure the PCs know what the score is before they start doing stuff.
I think both the fictional elements and the game elements need to align for actions to be justified.

More importantly though, it seems you are condemning the player for insulting the NPC solely for game-ish concenrs - namely ruining other players fun - which is not a fictional concern at all. It's almost like you hold a different standard for the DM and his NPC's than you do for theplayers and their PC's.

I'm less sure about this. If the PC's plan all along was to use the negotiation as a ruse to get into the chambers and attack the Burgermaster, why not just ... attack the Burgermaster? What does the PC think he's going to accomplish by insulting him? It doesn't sound as though expecting it to make the negotiations go better is reasonable, and if he wanted to draw the Burgermaster into the fight why wasn't he the one to attack the Burgermaster? You can maybe make an argument that the player didn't have a clear picture of the stakes before he declared the character's actions, which is why I see the suggestion @Maxperson made as reasonable, but it doesn't seem to me (based on what the OP said and my experience being at the table with that sort of player) as though that's likely to accomplish anything more than more insults.
Maybe. I still think it's worth testing. Maybe even asking the player why his character is insulting him on the 2nd insult.

And I do. I suspect this is where differences in viewpoint and experiences come into play. Among other things, I'm looking at this from more of a "makes sense as fiction" perspective and you seem to be looking at it from more of a "makes sense as (or makes good) gameplay" perspective. There's something to be said about gameplay, given that it's an actual game, and I genuinely appreciate that perspective, in spite of being cranky about this.
Discussion boards tend to amplify differences. We are probably much closer in reality that it sounds right now.
 
Last edited:

Just finished a Blades session and it reminded me of this thread. Not because there was any symmetry in play, but because it reminded me of how boldness of action and PCs not being on the same page can lead to absolute memorable calamity but in the best of ways (unlike this play anecdote where apparently everyone was unhappy).

The PCs are at War with their primary rival Gang who is one Tier above the PCs' Crew. War carries several negative mechanical effects and implications on play. The way to get out of War status is to (a) eliminate the enemy Faction or (b) negotiate a "cease fire" and a new Status (Status of -3 means War).

In the course of the last Information Gathering/Free Play, the PC Lurk (Infiltrator/Thief archetype) found the location of the rival Gang's financier/bank where their Stash is kept. Fortunately, its a flat in a tenement building adjacent to the Ironworks (which is a facility where they have a contact so that gives them access to rappel down to the hideout's bay window as point of entrance). Unfortunately, this financier/banker also possesses the holdings of other low Tier Gangs...so the prospect of negative Status with several Gangs and a lot of Heat is high and security will invariably be high.

The hope for the mission was the following:

1) Reduce the Hold of the rival Gang so they "Tier-down" to the same Tier as the PC's Crew.

2) Gain a lot of Stash.

3) Not incur too much collateral damage (best of luck with that) because the odds were high for that here.

The other PC is a Whisper (basically a Warlock archetype who Attunes to the Ghost Field for all kinds of supernatural affects/spiritual summonings). The Lurk and the Whisper have all kinds of issues because of the fallout that has occured because of failed attunements (demonic possessions and bargains that are haunting them, poltergeist "hanger ons", and other similar things).

Well, things were going well early and they absolutely snowballed because of a sequence of poor Action Rolls that yielded some Minor and Major consequences (and one poor decision) by the Whisper which involved dealing with a giant Python that was constricting him in the dark (the vault was accessed via a "zoo" room with all sorts of caged animals and a free-roaming python). A member of the security team came in to feed rats to the python (after hearing the noise), the Lurk knocked him out (pommel to the back of the ear) as he entered the room with a 5 (success with complication) on a Prowl that was Pushed for an extra die. Complication is the candelabra he was holding comes crashing to the floor. The "being constricted" Whisper Attuned to the Ghost Field for another Success with a Complication so ghost hands manifested to catch the candelabra and guide it safely to the floor. However, supernatural complications + further complications (and a poor decision to roll Resistance - Prowess rather than spend 1 Armor to reduce Harm 1 from the Python) = the Whisper incurred 12 total stress. That is the threshold for Trauma (in this case Haunted) and knock him out of the scene.

Complete clustereff ensued and a narrow escape.

Literally nothing they wanted to accomplished happened and they gained all sorts of bad things (Heat, Stress, Haunted Trauma, a loss of a lantern, another supernatural complication, a complication of "a member of the security team 'made' me during the escape" for the Lurk, and a Clock incurred by the Lurk to pay back a boatman driver that gave them egress via a canal that occurred as a result of the Lurk player using a Flashback - and incurring 1 Stress from it).

Again, complete clustereff.

PCs thematically in positions that place them against each other in their portfolio (the Lurk HATES the supernatural baggage and fallout caused by the Whisper) and the Whisper player made a poor decision (chose Resistance roll to reduce Harm 1 rather than spending 1 Armor).

However, this may have been our most fun Blades game to date. It was at least the most hysterical and likely the most memorable with the highest of stakes for sure (this may start a downward spiral for this Crew such that their story will end badly).

Why was this a great time and the game cited in the lead post was regaled as such a bad time?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Just finished a Blades session and it reminded me of this thread. Not because there was any symmetry in play, but because it reminded me of how boldness of action and PCs not being on the same page can lead to absolute memorable calamity but in the best of ways (unlike this play anecdote where apparently everyone was unhappy).

The PCs are at War with their primary rival Gang who is one Tier above the PCs' Crew. War carries several negative mechanical effects and implications on play. The way to get out of War status is to (a) eliminate the enemy Faction or (b) negotiate a "cease fire" and a new Status (Status of -3 means War).

In the course of the last Information Gathering/Free Play, the PC Lurk (Infiltrator/Thief archetype) found the location of the rival Gang's financier/bank where their Stash is kept. Fortunately, its a flat in a tenement building adjacent to the Ironworks (which is a facility where they have a contact so that gives them access to rappel down to the hideout's bay window as point of entrance). Unfortunately, this financier/banker also possesses the holdings of other low Tier Gangs...so the prospect of negative Status with several Gangs and a lot of Heat is high and security will invariably be high.

The hope for the mission was the following:

1) Reduce the Hold of the rival Gang so they "Tier-down" to the same Tier as the PC's Crew.

2) Gain a lot of Stash.

3) Not incur too much collateral damage (best of luck with that) because the odds were high for that here.

The other PC is a Whisper (basically a Warlock archetype who Attunes to the Ghost Field for all kinds of supernatural affects/spiritual summonings). The Lurk and the Whisper have all kinds of issues because of the fallout that has occured because of failed attunements (demonic possessions and bargains that are haunting them, poltergeist "hanger ons", and other similar things).

Well, things were going well early and they absolutely snowballed because of a sequence of poor Action Rolls that yielded some Minor and Major consequences (and one poor decision) by the Whisper which involved dealing with a giant Python that was constricting him in the dark (the vault was accessed via a "zoo" room with all sorts of caged animals and a free-roaming python). A member of the security team came in to feed rats to the python (after hearing the noise), the Lurk knocked him out (pommel to the back of the ear) as he entered the room with a 5 (success with complication) on a Prowl that was Pushed for an extra die. Complication is the candelabra he was holding comes crashing to the floor. The "being constricted" Whisper Attuned to the Ghost Field for another Success with a Complication so ghost hands manifested to catch the candelabra and guide it safely to the floor. However, supernatural complications + further complications (and a poor decision to roll Resistance - Prowess rather than spend 1 Armor to reduce Harm 1 from the Python) = the Whisper incurred 12 total stress. That is the threshold for Trauma (in this case Haunted) and knock him out of the scene.

Complete clustereff ensued and a narrow escape.

Literally nothing they wanted to accomplished happened and they gained all sorts of bad things (Heat, Stress, Haunted Trauma, a loss of a lantern, another supernatural complication, a complication of "a member of the security team 'made' me during the escape" for the Lurk, and a Clock incurred by the Lurk to pay back a boatman driver that gave them egress via a canal that occurred as a result of the Lurk player using a Flashback - and incurring 1 Stress from it).

Again, complete clustereff.

PCs thematically in positions that place them against each other in their portfolio (the Lurk HATES the supernatural baggage and fallout caused by the Whisper) and the Whisper player made a poor decision (chose Resistance roll to reduce Harm 1 rather than spending 1 Armor).

However, this may have been our most fun Blades game to date. It was at least the most hysterical and likely the most memorable with the highest of stakes for sure (this may start a downward spiral for this Crew such that their story will end badly).

Why was this a great time and the game cited in the lead post was regaled as such a bad time?
Probably because 1 PC action didn't immediately take you from step 3 to step 10 where all the bad consequences occurred.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top