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Would you rather have your heroes fight to the death to avoid capture?


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So far my heroes have not had this happen yet. Given the mentality of some of the players. They may try to fight to the death. As some still think in terms of Dungeons and Dragons. Must kill everything on site. We are just starting up, so I am giving them adventures that is designed to teach them, not all the bad guys will be chaotic evil, or evil in your typical dungeons and dragons terms. You do not need to kill everyone you see, its ok to hold back. I stated it was not Dark Champions and more DC comics like.

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I commented in e thread either in NGD or General Roleplaying a while back that I have an irrational aversion to having my characters get captured. I've used the last loaded flintlock on board an age of sail vessel to have my character blow his brains out rather than get captured. There was some amazement expressed, and I don't know where it comes from, but it is irrational, a RL psychlim on my part. I just won't do it, unless the GM takes me aside personally and tells me it's necessary for the plot. And even then, I'm really unhappy.

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I commented in e thread either in NGD or General Roleplaying a while back that I have an irrational aversion to having my characters get captured. I've used the last loaded flintlock on board an age of sail vessel to have my character blow his brains out rather than get captured. There was some amazement expressed, and I don't know where it comes from, but it is irrational, a RL psychlim on my part. I just won't do it, unless the GM takes me aside personally and tells me it's necessary for the plot. And even then, I'm really unhappy.
Yeah, I've been there. For many years I played with a single group back in Virginia (Steamteck's, actually). It was a very pulp-oriented game, so getting captured, confronting the villain, and destroying his lair/plans in our escape was a commonplace plot development. And mostly I was fine with that.

 

Mostly. But I sometimes tired of the bad guy always getting away to bedevil us again later on. So I'd fight like my immortal soul depended upon it, doing my level best to KILL that SOB before he could escape.

 

The same was true of getting captured. Occasionally one player or another, and even more rarely all the players, would decide (for whatever reason) that THIS was the battle in which we. Would. Not. Be. Captured. Sometimes we succeeded. Sometimes we didn't.

 

The moral of the story is, it can work as a plot device, but it can be overused like anything else.

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As a GM I didn't put my heroes into situations where they could die (at least not in Champions situations, DnD was a different story).

 

I did knock them all out from time to time, and drag off one of the supers who would need to be rescued by the rest of the team.

 

One time I captured all the heroes, had a sorcerer put spells on them so they looked like the villains and had them all shipped off to Stronghold... Players ran alts until they could figure out what had happened to the main toons. Was a fun time, lots of role play!

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For the gold-silver-bronze-age super-hero genre, I would prefer if they didn't fight to the death. Of course, players may refuse to surrender and be captured, anyways. Not every attack is necessarily lethal. On the other hand, I understand when players choose the death before dishonor option. Most players have 1) played in genres where "bad things" can be expected if you are captured, and 2) dealt with sadistic game-masters, or game-masters who didn't ken the genre. As a result, both trust and comfort can take time to develop. If players are worried about rape, maiming, disfigurement, graphic torture, enslavement, or death due to capture they will choose to fight to the death. You have to be clear about the genre tropes and expectations. Another issue is, how players react to hopeless scenarios. I understand they can be dramatically appropriate, but many players don't like no-win scenarios because it pushed their "I hate being rail-roaded" button. You can do it, but you have to tread lightly. As for death traps, I have used them, but you have to do them right. You have to 1) give players reasonable odds, 2) sufficient information, and 3) lee-way to hatch reasonable escape plans you yourself weren't expecting. Too many GM's only plan for one way to escape and fail to make it clear to players who may be interpreting descriptions differently tan you think they will.

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That situation is so standard its a cliche, get captured, get the villain monologuing about their plan, get put in to a slow and easily escapable detah trap, escape, capture the villain then blow up the base on the way out before going home for tea and medals.

 

Plus, getting captured and pretending to change sides is a good way to infiltrate a villainous organisation. (My group almost joined viper because they gave away free beer).

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That situation is so standard its a cliche, get captured, get the villain monologuing about their plan, get put in to a slow and easily escapable detah trap, escape, capture the villain then blow up the base on the way out before going home for tea and medals.

 

Plus, getting captured and pretending to change sides is a good way to infiltrate a villainous organisation. (My group almost joined viper because they gave away free beer).

Free beer? The villains!
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I have an irrational aversion to having my characters get captured...

I don't know where it comes from, but it is irrational, a RL psychlim on my part.

If it makes you feel better, you're hardly alone; an awful lot of players seem to feel that way. I admit I don't quite get it myself, as being captured by the villain is such a common trope in most genre fiction. (Trope vs cliche is all in the execution.) I think part of the problem is most RPGers start out in fantasy gaming, and getting captured is less common in that genre.

 

I've always made sure to have that conversation with my players, make sure they know that losing a battle and/or getting captured does not equal character death, or other nastiness, but that it allows us to tell stories beyond just One Side Dies. I also promise not to pull it too often.

 

As for death traps: a little too silver age for my taste.

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Other thoughts: I make sure my players understand that not every fight they get into is going to be a carefully balanced level-appropriate encounter. This is especially important for wargamers and D&D devotees, who have been trained to expect this. So yeah, sometimes they're going to be outgunned, and they may get slapped around or even knocked unconscious. But everyone knows the hero always wins the rematch!

 

Also, getting captured can be a great way to force Focus-based heroes to have to work without their items for a Turn or two. For example if a character builds a power armor character, I make it clear that the "price" they pay for the IAF discount is that at some point they're going to get in a "situation" without it. Since it can't be grabbed, the most common way to have it taken away is if they get captured. That's part of the contract, so don't be surprised when it happens. But in return, I don't expect them to take on Grond bare-handed, so I give them some mooks to smack around.

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