log in or register to remove this ad


When Your PCs Go From Paragon to Renegade


I recently had a band of Dead Suns PCs go all cold-blooded-killer on some KO'd goons. A few more details in the write-up over here, but I'm curious if any of you GMs out there have had a similar experience. Have you ever seen your Neutral/Good crew of PCs turn into a band of Neutral/Evil killers? Is it ever appropriate for a GM in this kind of situation to say, "Are you sure you want to do that?" Or are morally dubious actions like this always best left to the discretion of the PCs, even when it seems out of character?

log in or register to remove this ad


My advice is to never tell the players that they've done something that's "out of character". You can ask them why they're doing something, but all character actions should be the discretion of the PCs.

There was a fairly spicy thread on this topic on the original forum, and let me just say that it's always a bad idea (IMO) to control the actions of the PCs.

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
You may not want to tell your players how their characters should act, but you can certainly introduce consequences for their actions.

Though, when introducing consequences for violence, one should also always remember that legal standards for self defense, mutual combat, and "field justice"-- which PCs would often logically be lawfully authorized to dispense-- changed dramatically between the 15th and 20th centuries.

Remember that the original definition of "outlaw" was someone to whom the protections of the law no longer applied; the local authorities aren't going to punish the PCs for saving them a rope.


You need to realize this is an out of game problem, and out of game problems demand out of game solutions.

The problem isn't that some NPC is getting miffed. You, the GM, are getting miffed.

It's okay, it happens to all of us. And it it isn't trivial, because anything that lowers the motivation and inspiration of the GM is a bad thing for everybody. But the point is: you're outside the game while characters are inside it.

The situation here is trying to solve this problem with an in game solution. Don't. You only risk causing resentment.

The real solution is to talk to your players (not their characters). Tell them you feel recent events took a turn you don't feel uncomfortable with. The issue usually goes away when the players understand what is happening here, and that you aren't punishing the characters or catigate the players. The players might even be able to explain and justify their characters' choices in a way that helps you accept their choices.

I've seen this happen in games.

One time our PCs had entered a foreign land, and a couple of nice people led us around. They could speak our language too, which was really helpful. Most of us left to do stuff and the party split, but not very obviously. Two PCs stayed back and, suspicious that these people were too nice, killed them. The rest of the party were innocent, and had no idea this was happening.

The GM had us face realistic consequences. We were attacked by the police. My character decided to run, and was the last to be caught.

I had to throw a SWAT team at two PCs of mine once. At least that stopped the bad behavior.

Both of those occurred in d20 Modern. It's been my experience that tropes that support the game reduce this behavior. I never saw this kind of misbehavior in a superhero game or Dresden Fate, either.


Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I was a player in a game where we had to fight a cult that'd infiltrated a small town. We ended up with a lot of dead townsfolk in the crossfire/collateral damage.

We faced consequences with the king being on the hunt for us following that.

It really depends on the game and the situation.

If they're outlaws they killed it might not matter. If it's a highly lawful society which I don't know Dead Suns other than it's Starfinder, it might matter quite a lot.

If it's a D&D situation and you have a cleric of a good god, that might entail requiring an atonement or something like that.



You may not want to tell your players how their characters should act, but you can certainly introduce consequences for their actions.

Now see, I thought the phrase, "Are you sure?" was synonymous with, "Your character shouldn't do that." If they proceed anyway it's all aboard the consequences train.

I'm just talking about making the warning a little more explicit.

Philip Benz

A Dragontooth Grognard
The trope "killing changes a man" has been explored again and again in literature. I think it's a ripe melon waiting to be picked in this case. If the PCs are becoming more and more "horrible", then the DM should let them, even offer up situations where their horribleness becomes even more flagrant, morally ambiguous situations where violence may well be justifiable, but humanity is an alternate path. Explore this path together, as your PCs forsake their humanity for darker goals.

Maybe someday they will regret what they have become, and seek redemption. Or maybe Karma will come looking for them with a bigger stick.