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Things not covered/addressed in Hero

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2 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

I have heard the reverse comment of "what's the point of a game with no risk of character loss".  There's a balance to be found.  Some players really invest themselves in their characters, and they don't want them to be disposable.  Others find the thrill of success enhanced when the risk of failure is greater. 

 

Well put.

 

It's not about when our characters die, but how. I think most of us want to feel like our characters' actions matter and that our characters have had an impact (ideally a legendary one) on the game world, so that if/when they do die, whenever that may be, they will not have died in vain.

 

I don't like Care Bear campaigns because I'm firmly in the "what's the point of a game with no risk of character loss" camp. I once played a paladin-like character in a GURPS Fantasy campaign and I got so sick of the GM fudging outcomes to keep my character from nasty consequences that in frustration I deliberately tried to sacrifice the character in the most glorious and epicly heroic way possible, and even then the GM would not let my character die. He assumed that just because the other players were Care Bears that I was too. Ugh! I stopped playing shortly after that.

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9 hours ago, zslane said:

I don't like Care Bear campaigns because I'm firmly in the "what's the point of a game with no risk of character loss" camp. I once played a paladin-like character in a GURPS Fantasy campaign and I got so sick of the GM fudging outcomes to keep my character from nasty consequences that in frustration I deliberately tried to sacrifice the character in the most glorious and epicly heroic way possible, and even then the GM would not let my character die. He assumed that just because the other players were Care Bears that I was too. Ugh! I stopped playing shortly after that.

 

There's a gulf of difference between characters that last a few sessions and ones that have some kind of story arc.  That doesn't mean care-bear; if you do something grossly stupid or sacrificial, so be it.  But when was the last time you saw any Champions game end up in TPK with any competent GM?

 

Not to mention, how often do comic book heroes die irrevocably?

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For most genres, a campaign becomes a Care Bear campaign when the GM, out of fear/concern of upsetting his or her players, routinely overrides the mechanics/outcomes in order to guarantee that no story arc ever actually puts the PCs' lives in jeopardy, no matter how implausible that becomes (given the genre and the characters' actions). Since I began playing in 1983, I think I've seen only one Champions PC die. Pretty much everyone I ever played Champions with understood that the characters were not typically at risk in the superhero genre, only their DNPCs and their reputations (and their xp earning potential, I suppose). To turn a Champions campaign into a Care Bear campaign, you don't fudge things to make sure nobody ever dies, you fudge things to make sure nobody is ever defeated. On the other hand, if you're going to play a game like CoC or Kult, then it must be understood that your character's life or sanity are at risk at all times. Similarly, given my literary influences in the fantasy genre, I expect PCs' lives to be at risk in every significant encounter, and I find myself like a fish out of water when the rest of the group is not similarly inclined.

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In most fantasy literature, I question whether it is reasonable to say the characters' lives are at risk in every encounter - most of the Fellowship of the Ring made it through a pretty lengthy campaign, although it often seemed like they were in significant jeopardy and risk of death.  Campaign lethality is a matter of group consensus, in my view, and as zslane notes, if there is a significant difference in the group's expectations, not everyone is likely to be happy.

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20 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

I think the hardest game to GM is a game where you want the illusion of it being deadly but not be. 

 

I think that comes into the GM style.  It almost has to be shown early on that if the players screw up (not usually the dice unless they are only being rolled due to bad decisions) then someone is likely to die.

 

When my players decide that they are going to embark on a headlong assault on a hard point that I have demonstrated by wasting countless NPC lives to be deadly, then they accept they are now in life or death dice rolling.  If one of them dies in this, I am pretty unsympathetic.

 

If they had sought another way round the hard-point, trying to think but it all goes wrong due to issues they had no way of knowing about, I am more likely to seek to transform death into capture or severe disadvantage (loss of equipment, disabling wounds etc).

 

It is almost impossible for the game to be both deadly and forgiving.  Gamers will game.  If the system has built in mechanisms to escape death, gamers will not keep them for special situations, they will consider them as part of the tactical landscape.  (I am not using gamers pejoratively here, just saying we are playing a game and players will often look to play optimally, even when making bad strategic decisions).

 

Doc

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The is neither here nor there, but I was playing in a D&D Encounters group for a while that met on Wednesdays at my FLGS. It was an informal core group of 5 or 6 guys, and whoever wandered in to learn the game. A "care bear" setting if ever there was one, and characters with short story arcs for sure (just by how WoC organizes it). It was a blend of personalities and goals, so there was always some dissatisfaction on some front, but the GM did a great job of balancing interests, especially with new people. 

 

But I happened to miss one week when a guy showed up randomly and built a chaotic evil character, and role played him appropriately. It ended out leading to a Majority Party Self-Kill (MPK?) where they all turned on each other in the middle of an adventure over a role-played misunderstanding. I came back the following week to find half the players and most of the characters gone! It led to hurt feelings, players quitting, but also an epic story for the guys who stayed. 

 

The GM had the opportunity to scale back that particular encounter in order to smooth things over, but as the conflict unfolded he let them play it out. Once they turned on each other there was no turning back. So in the end, it was a mix of good GMing and good role playing that led to a bad outcome, but I think nearly everyone appreciated their own agency in how the story unfolded. 

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There's substantial difference between a GM who seeks to make death (or ignominious defeat) a possible consequence of poor decision making on the part of the PCs, and a GM who seeks to ruthlessly kill the party every chance he gets. I'd say the former is simply normative roleplaying, whereas the latter is borderline sociopathic. At the other end of the spectrum, a care bear GM seeks to soften the blow of every poor PC decision so that there are virtually no negative consequences (character death in particular). That may be a reasonable approach for a one-off demonstration game intended to attract newcomers, but it is not the kind of long-term campaign I'd recommend for most players, especially those involving children. Such campaigns denude the game's tremendous potential for teaching valuable lessons about actions and consequences, all folded into the fabric of fun adventure and engagement through creative problem solving.

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I'd like to see a rewrite of the Teleportation power to have two options.  The standard default, and one similar to a Warp  which creates a gateway from A to B.  Doing it with mass rules can be clunky if you want something that affects volume instead of mass.

 

IT would also be nice to have an index of where to find things that have vanished form previous editions.  Instant Change?  See Transform.  Find Weakness, See (I forget). Etc.

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