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Realistic Consequences vs Gameplay

Of course it's GM whim!

The King is an NPC. NPCs are the GM's characters to play, just as PCs are those of the players, and thus the GM gets to - based on the King's personality and motivations - decide exactly what the King's reaction will be. (I can't believe I actually have to spell this out!)

Amnd if the King's word is the law, which here seems to be the case, then if he says "Off with their heads!" then those PCs are about to get a bit shorter.
The king's reaction is decided by the GM, sure....but the results of that action are typically left to dice, no? We don't know exactly what dice or mechanics were used to handle this situation. Nor do we know what opportunities may present themselves before the PCs are killed off by GM fiat, and how such opportunities would be handled mechanically.

All this to say that having my PC die due to HP loss and failed death saves (or whatever relevant mechanic determines such) is one thing. It's observable, it's clear what the risks are, you know how you arrive at that end. And it doesn't come just because the GM says so.....there are rules that the GM is meant to follow that lead to this.

Having an NPC put PCs in stocks and then execute them out of hand is significantly less specific.

Assume that in either case the answer is "as many as required to kill the PC beyond easy revivability", for comparison's sake, and proceed. :)
Why would we assume that?

Based on your previous descriptions of play, I can't imagine that you or your players would simply accept such a fate for their PC if that's what happened in your game. I feel like you'd try to escape, or bargain, or whatever would make sense. And why not?
 

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BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Sounds like things worked out ok. The Baron and his family are not long for the world anyway. You can only be a mad tyrant for so long before one or mroe powerful nobles or the people themselves successfully do something about it.

The PCs could probably come back to town after the revolution if they wanted.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
I don't understand how something can be handled offscreeen and yet also be the result of the game's resolution mechanics.
Most extreme case:
Pendragon: characters roll for children annually. The sex isn't portrayed in a scene, nor the childbirth. It's subsumed into the Winter Phase, which, in KAP, isn't actually written for scene gen., but to reduce the hundreds of hours of practice, the probably dozens of hours of sex, hundreds of hours of sewing, and such to a 5 to 15 minute non-scene.

Other examples, less extreme, include taxing your peasants in BECMI and Cyclopedia D&D, many people's social interaction in-game, especially pawn-stance as opposed to actor-stance. Yes, the character spent an hour yammering, but the resolution is one line by the player, and a die-roll.
 

Sounds like things worked out ok. The Baron and his family are not long for the world anyway. You can only be a mad tyrant for so long before one or mroe powerful nobles or the people themselves successfully do something about it.

The PCs could probably come back to town after the revolution if they wanted.
Why shouldn't the PCs ignite it? Or lead it?

Why should a revolution like this be handled offscreen, particularly when one of the PCs expressed interest in inciting or imposing a revolution! If they're perceived (and I don't know if this is correct or not) as "bored", yet they expressed a dramatic need ("Lets Revolution!"), why not see where it goes rather than decrying it (for all of the reasons expressed here).

Shutting it down (I don't have remotely enough information on precisely how the action resolution mechanics were deployed here...or if one or two of the players felt there was a block deployed by the GM to maintain the AP's plot trajectory) and handling it offscreen when its an area of interest is tantamount to a GM prioritizing their own version of "Setting Solitaire" over engaging with an expressed thematic interest during play! That makes absolutely no sense to me.

Now, if its what I wrote earlier ("when all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail"), that is another area that needs to be addressed outside of play (however, it could very well be related if the players felt like the action resolution mechanics deployed to resolve the social conflict > physical conflict > escape conflict were opaque or deployed unintuitively).
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
Why shouldn't the PCs ignite it? Or lead it?

Why should a revolution like this be handled offscreen, particularly when one of the PCs expressed interest in inciting or imposing a revolution! If they're perceived (and I don't know if this is correct or not) as "bored", yet they expressed a dramatic need ("Lets Revolution!"), why not see where it goes rather than decrying it (for all of the reasons expressed here).

Shutting it down (I don't have remotely enough information on precisely how the action resolution mechanics were deployed here...or if one or two of the players felt there was a block deployed by the GM to maintain the AP's plot trajectory) and handling it offscreen when its an area of interest is tantamount to a GM prioritizing their own version of "Setting Solitaire" over engaging with an expressed thematic interest during play! That makes absolutely no sense to me.

Now, if its what I wrote earlier ("when all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail"), that is another area that needs to be addressed outside of play (however, it could very well be related if the players felt like the action resolution mechanics deployed to resolve the social conflict > physical conflict > escape conflict were opaque or deployed unintuitively).
I've said nothing about what should happen. I'm saying the module is clear about what does happens if the PCs choose not to start the revolution. It happens anyway.

It's the OP that has said that the PCs did not ally with the noble that wanted to oust the baron, or really try to enlist any aid to do so. They still could if they wanted too at least until the next festival when the people finally get too tired of the baron's crap. Of course this is all subject to change according to the DM.
 

I've said nothing about what should happen. I'm saying the module is clear about what does happens if the PCs choose not to start the revolution. It happens anyway.

It's the OP that has said that the PCs did not ally with the noble that wanted to oust the baron, or really try to enlist any aid to do so. They still could if they wanted too at least until the next festival when the people finally get too tired of the baron's crap. Of course this is all subject to change according to the DM.
No I know you didn't say what should happen.

I was using your statement as a springboard because its the first I saw regarding what the module says about revolution while I've simultaneously seen a lot of conversation in the thread about the GM handling things offscreen (which, again, it seems odd to disparage a player's specifically expressed interest and declared action...even if its just a compulsive one...in inciting revolution if you're just going to handle it offscreen); playing "Setting Solitaire" if you're ignoring player's input and expressed interest.

Threads like this just reinforce how much I tend to disagree with the way the significant bulk of posters in this forum when it comes to casting/perceiving table behavior, authority over and responsibility to the shared fiction, various participant roles during play, and system.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
No I know you didn't say what should happen.

I was using your statement as a springboard because its the first I saw regarding what the module says about revolution while I've simultaneously seen a lot of conversation in the thread about the GM handling things offscreen (which, again, it seems odd to disparage a player's specifically expressed interest and declared action...even if its just a compulsive one...in inciting revolution if you're just going to handle it offscreen); playing "Setting Solitaire" if you're ignoring player's input and expressed interest.

Threads like this just reinforce how much I tend to disagree with the way the significant bulk of posters in this forum when it comes to casting/perceiving table behavior, authority over and responsibility to the shared fiction, various participant roles during play, and system.
One the one hand, having the characters in the world pursue their own goals (IE freeing themselves form a mad tyrant) seems quite fine with me but I do agree that that it seems like a perfect way to unite those NPC desires with what aligns to, as far as I can tell, at least one players desire to topple the tyrant.

But yeah I think you are right. If it were me in the DM chair I probably would have had the Baron move up the next festival to the very next morning and have the player characters execution scheduled for that very event. There's going to be a riot there anyway. Might has well have the PCs in the middle of it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The king's reaction is decided by the GM, sure....but the results of that action are typically left to dice, no? We don't know exactly what dice or mechanics were used to handle this situation. Nor do we know what opportunities may present themselves before the PCs are killed off by GM fiat, and how such opportunities would be handled mechanically.

All this to say that having my PC die due to HP loss and failed death saves (or whatever relevant mechanic determines such) is one thing. It's observable, it's clear what the risks are, you know how you arrive at that end. And it doesn't come just because the GM says so.....there are rules that the GM is meant to follow that lead to this.

Having an NPC put PCs in stocks and then execute them out of hand is significantly less specific.
Less specific; and yet more specific at the same time. By the sound of things the PCs in this case had all kinds of in-fiction reasons to believe that the King wasn't exactly either nice or forgiving, and that pissing him off (and trying to kill him certainly qualifies under that!) would very likely have dire and fatal consequences.

Which means there's a strong case to be made here than trying to kill him is in effect a glorified version of an educated save-or-die: you either succeed or you die trying or shortly thereafter. All the other mechanics have already been either expended or bypassed.

I applaud those players who took this gamble. It sucks that they lost.

Why would we assume that?
Someone was comparing a save-or-die trap vs the save-or-die variant situation I note just above. You asked how much h.p. damage it'd do, and my point is that "die" doesn't care about hit points. :)

Based on your previous descriptions of play, I can't imagine that you or your players would simply accept such a fate for their PC if that's what happened in your game. I feel like you'd try to escape, or bargain, or whatever would make sense. And why not?
Were I a player here and the King threw my PC in jail (as opposed to having my head lopped off there and then, which sounds like it's in play for this guy) then sure I'd try to escape - though unless I was playing a Thief-like character I'd assume my odds of success to be approaching zero; it would largely be an exercise in going through the motions.

More realistically, any escape attempt would have to be externally driven; my PC's fate would largely be in the hands of those PCs who were still at large. So, I'd proactively get started on rolling up something new while they sort that out (or decide not to :) ) and if my existing PC does get freed then whatever I roll up can be stowed away for later.
 

bloodtide

Explorer
Keep in mind that realistic consequences are only what you as the DM say they are. I have seen so many DMs get trapped in this box that they "must" only do ONE thing. If a PC commits a crime they MUST be arrested and they MUST be put to death, and the DM will sit back like there is "nothing" they can do and the game is on AutoPlay or something.

The truth is that a DM can have Anything happen. For the jail one two kinda obvious ones are: a judge comes and lets them go to do some dirty work(maybe with a geas or whatever) or the sneaky jail "lets them escape" as part of some fiendish plot.

THAT being said, the best way to handle a disruptive player is to simply alter the game reality so they cannot effect the game. Like the lord would just say "oh thank you for the complement, they do call me the Crazy Lord after all".

Once Upon a Time: At the start of an adventure the group had dinner with the king. Player Clyde of Thief Zim got boarded so he tried to loot the fine silverware at the kings table....only to find out it was all animated :) So while the other players role played talking to the king, Zim was fighting for his life vs animated silverware. All the while Clyde was trying to hide his thievery and the attacking silverware from everyone. In the end Zim lost all but one hit point, and used up all his healing potions and did not even get a single peice of silverware. But the other Pcs talked to the king, and Clyde was kept busy.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Well, no, realistic consequences are not whatever the DM says they are. Unless what the DM says also happens to be realistic. 'Realistic' there means that the consequences flow naturally from the fiction in some way. You're right that it is never just one answer though.
 

pemerton

Legend
The unexpected happens from time-to-time, but I'd say the results of combat in D&D are typically logical in that they make sense within the context of the game.
OK. But if you use action resolution to work out what happens to the characters who insult the king the same thing will be true: you'll get something that makes sense in the context of the game.
 

MGibster

Hero
OK. But if you use action resolution to work out what happens to the characters who insult the king the same thing will be true: you'll get something that makes sense in the context of the game.
I'm sorry, but I don't quite follow what you mean. What action resolution mechanics are you referring to here?
 

pemerton

Legend
Most extreme case:
Pendragon: characters roll for children annually. The sex isn't portrayed in a scene, nor the childbirth. It's subsumed into the Winter Phase, which, in KAP, isn't actually written for scene gen., but to reduce the hundreds of hours of practice, the probably dozens of hours of sex, hundreds of hours of sewing, and such to a 5 to 15 minute non-scene.
I've used those Pendragon rules. It's not offscreen. The players are there, making rolls, finding out what happens to their families.

For current purposes it's functionally the same as adjudicating a Resources cycel in BW.

The time is truncated compared to (say) D&D combat, but it's not offscreeen ie the GM simply telling you afterwards what happened to your PC.
 

pemerton

Legend
the idea that players, out of boredom, malice or sheer bloody-minded solipsism, can't take actions or exhibit behaviors that are damaging to the table and campaign isn't a flight of someone's imagination. Of course there are players like that, and of course they can derail a campaign.
I think the number of people who turn up to chess clubs so they can flip over the table part-way through a game is pretty small.

If RPGIng has a significantly larger number of such participants, that would be a worry. But I don't see anything in the OP to suggest that that is what is happening here.

There seems at least to be a difference in expectations at the table. There are players taking seriously that they need to tiptoe around the Mad Tyrant, expecting a game (or at least a mini-game) of negotiation; there is at least one other who is expecting a game where violence is the universal solvent, and out of boredom is blowing up the negotiation mini-game.
If A is bored by B's play, and therefore takes steps to make things interesting, without knowing more I have to treat it as an open question whether it's the proactive A or the boring B who is "in the wrong". But in any event that's not what I saw in the OP: a player, presuably playing his PC is frustrated by the Mad Tyrant and verbalises that frustration, then the GM narrates more stuff which includes an escalation to violence, and then another player has his PC respond in kind:

{A PC] yell[ed] out something to the effect of "you're crazy and don't deserve leadership here." 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​

That's the GM, not any player, who treated violence as the universal solvent.

The PCs antagonized the Mad Tyrant. That was handled via the game's resolution mechanics. As a result, the PCs are executed.
They knew the Mad Tyrant was, well, a mad tyrant, and they attacked him (first verbally, then physically). Action, meet consequence.
First, as with @chaochou I'm curious about what the resolution method is that was used to make the move from PC yells out to Mad Tyrant takes it badly to Mad Tyrant calls for guards to guards arrive and follow his order to arrest PC. At every point I can see a different possibility: the Mad Tyrant laughs off the insult; the Mad Tyrant personally challenges the affronting PC to a duel of honour; the guards are all drunk and don't come when called; the guard captain agrees with the PC that the Mad Tyrant doesn't deserve to rule, and seeing now a chance to strike against the tyrant takes up that chance. And I came up with those possibilities in the time it took me to type them up.

Second, the Mad Tyrant isn't a natural phenomenon. It's an element of the fiction in a RPG, presumably intended to serve some purpose for RPGing. What's that purpose? To create a puzzle for the players, where if they don't guess the right thing their PCs die? (This is @Nagol's analogy to the trapped door.) To allow the GM to tell the players what their PCs should do on pain of dying? A chance for the players to show off their ability to follow the GM's lead? Something else?
 

pemerton

Legend
I'm sorry, but I don't quite follow what you mean. What action resolution mechanics are you referring to here?
Whichever ones are available. In D&D that might be a reaction roll table - first to see how the tyrant responds to the insult, then (if that is adverse) to see if the guards answer the call, then (if they do) to see how the guards respond to the situation of the tyrant being under attack.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I disagree. There isn't a long roleplaying session dealing with the trapped door where you have to continuously show deference to the trap or it goes off...
True story...

In a campaign I joined for its latter half, upon introduction of my character, I was told about a previous exploit of one of the characters, to explain their approach to the Universe to me. They'd been going through a wizard's lair, and had been opening doors - three door handles in a row were trapped to explode with fire. The PC reached for the handle of the fourth door, and one of the PCs cried at them to stop.

"Why?" the PC said, "It isn't like they can ALL be tra-- BOOM!"
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
If A is bored by B's play, and therefore takes steps to make things interesting, without knowing more I have to treat it as an open question whether it's the proactive A or the boring B who is "in the wrong". But in any event that's not what I saw in the OP: a player, presuably playing his PC is frustrated by the Mad Tyrant and verbalises that frustration, then the GM narrates more stuff which includes an escalation to violence, and then another player has his PC respond in kind:

{A PC] yell[ed] out something to the effect of "you're crazy and don't deserve leadership here." 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​

That's the GM, not any player, who treated violence as the universal solvent.


First, as with @chaochou I'm curious about what the resolution method is that was used to make the move from PC yells out to Mad Tyrant takes it badly to Mad Tyrant calls for guards to guards arrive and follow his order to arrest PC. At every point I can see a different possibility: the Mad Tyrant laughs off the insult; the Mad Tyrant personally challenges the affronting PC to a duel of honour; the guards are all drunk and don't come when called; the guard captain agrees with the PC that the Mad Tyrant doesn't deserve to rule, and seeing now a chance to strike against the tyrant takes up that chance. And I came up with those possibilities in the time it took me to type them up.

Second, the Mad Tyrant isn't a natural phenomenon. It's an element of the fiction in a RPG, presumably intended to serve some purpose for RPGing. What's that purpose? To create a puzzle for the players, where if they don't guess the right thing their PCs die? (This is @Nagol's analogy to the trapped door.) To allow the GM to tell the players what their PCs should do on pain of dying? A chance for the players to show off their ability to follow the GM's lead? Something else?
Huh, chaochou is complaining about the whim of the DM but apparently you'd rather submit to the whim of the dice? I dunno - which is more predictable to the players giving them a chance to make meaningful choices? Playing the mad tyrant according to his well-known personality quirks of being thin-skinned and arresting malcontents or rolling against a list that might make him play completely against personality or include things not at all causally related to the players' decisions like guards being drunk? How are the PCs going to guess anything rational if that's the alternative.

And no, having the guards arrest an insolent PC isn't the start of violence in this scenario. The PC could have gone along quietly and plotted a daring escape, but like a lot of players do, they overreact when faced with their PCs losing any sense of their physical freedom (even temporarily) and whip their weapons out, escalating the situation further like they were in a Knights of the Dinner Table story.
 


Hriston

Adventurer
I'm sorry, but I don't quite follow what you mean. What action resolution mechanics are you referring to here?
Whichever ones are available. In D&D that might be a reaction roll table - first to see how the tyrant responds to the insult, then (if that is adverse) to see if the guards answer the call, then (if they do) to see how the guards respond to the situation of the tyrant being under attack.
Or presumably, an ability check to influence any one of those NPCs.
 


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