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When do you roll Disadvantages?


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I am part of a Champions PBEM (Wyldstrike) as a gm. We've been talking about certain disadas and how to handle them.

How do you tend to handle rolled Disadvantages/Complications like Hunteds? Do you roll them each time, put them in when it 'feels' right, some combination like roll for it and if you can't come up with a interesting, plausible why to work it into the scenario, save that occurrence for a scenario where it does fit? 

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Oh man;

 

I responded to this question once before, in another thread.  Unfortunately, that reply was bit lengthy and lost and now I'm on a touch screen, creation of all that is evil, so I can't really get into it as well. 

 

However, I _generally_ roll disads during the pregame chit-chat and catching up that invariably happens in face-to-face groups.  Not all of them, but let's say the "social" ones: hunted, hunting, dnpc: the ones that can kind of knock something off the rails if you don't know it's coming. 

 

Then I have to decide _how_ they appear.  Sure; when I was a young, niave new GM, the only understanding I had was "your hunter shows up, and here he is!  Phase 12!"

 

But that's been a long time ago. Sometimes, he doesn't actually show up, but he has begun to put something in motion, something that I will keep track of as the time passes: something bad, and aimed straight at you. 

 

Then I have to decide if I am going to leave clues in this session, or start that the next one.  Same if he actually shows up, to: are we at a dramatic point that could be lessened by a side quest?  Is the word outside the game on kind of a tight schedule this session?   If yes, then I will spend time after the game working whatever is relevant into the very next session. 

 

Similar with Secret ID issues (I know: no roll, but if you treat it as one, it's easier to plan around) 

 

I have, I admit, cruised vulnerabilities and succeptabilities pre-game and made slight adjustments to the session accordingly: sometimes adding a trigger so a player gets a little extra look-at-me time, or removing something that may affect the flow of that session (more than the actual players do, mind you ;)) 

 

Sometimes it's as simple as changing the villain in your planned session from Baddie-of-the-week to Dr Hatesmyguts.   Or maybe the guy your trying to catch is part of the good doctor's plan.  Change the hiest from mcguffin Ray to cutting-edge computer chip set, and change "so I will have a better ranged attack!" to "Dr. Hatesmyguts will feed me my children!" 

 

If they thwart him, toss out a clue or two.  Don't push it.  The hunted has come into play, and you have a seed for another story. 

 

Dnpcs may actually show up, in story mode or mid-battle, dramatic appropriateness decides.  Sometimes they don't actually show up; sometimes they get in trouble (super bad guy kind, or small claims court kind) 

 

One of my favorite uses of a dnpc involved a boyfriend who was dating a private-identity pc.  He had been arrested for D&D and was loudly proclaiming to the entire precinct house that they should treat him better because he was dating Scimitar, so he was kind of a big deal, and if they'd just let him have his phone, he'd show some pictures to prove it. 

 

Worse?  In her private life, she was one of the many lesser lawyers in the da's office. Guess who's job called mid-battle telling her she was up, and telling her the whole deal? 

 

That was a fun one.  But it's not easy to come with on the fly; roll before the game starts, and take a minute or two to think it through while everyone else thinks you're just neutralizing the dice. ;)

 

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I treat Disads as part of session planning.

 

If a Hunted shows up, they're the villain of the week. If more than one shows up, things can get tricky, so I usually work out the attitudes they have towards each other early on, and evolve them as a result of what happens in play. Sometimes they are allies, at other times opponents, and they can be both at different times.

 

If DNPCs show up, they usually have some connection to what is going on, or sometimes they just blunder into things.

 

And so on.

 

Depending on the number of players you have, how many disads each has and their frequency, disads can pretty much define the entire campaign. Sometimes they have to be replaced, of course, to stop things from getting stale. ("Not VIPER again!")

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The Disads and complications are a great way to take a premade published adventure and personalize it. I tend to look for niches mentioned in a see if DNPC can compliment or even replace an NPC in the published adventure.  Sometimes folks appear even when they're not in their usual purpose. Frex, I once started an adventure with a Hunted actually seeking a PC's hero's help because there was Dark Champion type vigilante in the city. 

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I tried to figure out ways to work complications into the storyline for each game session, so that they were wrapped up into the game.  But sometimes they would come up in play such as Psych Lims and I roll those on the spot.

 

For example if a hunted was common, then they would tend to show up every adventure in some manner or another.  If very common, then every session.  Susceptibility, Physical Lims, etc comes up as the situation arises.

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14 hours ago, assault said:

I treat Disads as part of session planning.

 

If a Hunted shows up, they're the villain of the week. If more than one shows up, things can get tricky, so I usually work out the attitudes they have towards each other early on, and evolve them as a result of what happens in play. Sometimes they are allies, at other times opponents, and they can be both at different times.

 

If DNPCs show up, they usually have some connection to what is going on, or sometimes they just blunder into things.

 

And so on.

 

Depending on the number of players you have, how many disads each has and their frequency, disads can pretty much define the entire campaign. Sometimes they have to be replaced, of course, to stop things from getting stale. ("Not VIPER again!")

 

Same. If a Disadvantage/Complication is common rather than uncommon, I plan to add it in part of the episode. Same with Hunted. Now, they don't have to actually have an impact on the game, sometimes it's just a cameo (The game is just about over. You've beaten everyone and wondering who was behind this this theft. You hear a whistle from above and look up. Across the street, you see <the hunted> wave at you and leave. Game over.)

I rarely have to do anything with Psych Limits as sometimes they just come around by themselves, sometimes in rapid fire. If a character has a vulnerability, I'll have a villain with that attack take a shot at the hero and if they hit, take your 1.5x Stun or Body (or 2x).

 

Working it into the game also leaves with a sense of surprise when they do show up since you're not calling out "Who's got a hunted and the chance?" Players never know when a hunted will show up (not that many heroes have hunteds anymore in the campaign).

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The way we always did it was that the first thing the GM did at the start of each session was roll all the Hunteds and Watcheds and so forth, and jot down in his notes which ones came up. If it felt plausible and dramatically appropriate to have one or more of the Hunteds show up that session, the GM would add them to the mix. Otherwise he would treat the roll as the Hunted being near by and studying the hero, plotting his next move, and would then figure out how to work the Hunted into a future session.

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I have an Access database for creating my speedsheets.  I added a table of the heroes' Complications as well as some code to roll and report the results.  As I prepare for each session, I have it roll and report, then use those results to tweak the adventure plans to include those successfully rolled.  If something runs counter the main adventure, I put it on hold for next game session.  And I include Secret Identities in the table, each with an 11- roll.

 

I also use the amount of the roll's success to determine the impact the Complication has.  I once rolled a critical success on a DNPC showing up, along with that same PC's Hunted..  In this case, the DNPC was a PC's mom, and the adventure plot was for a supervillain's minor disease damage shield to get mutated to become deadly and incredibly virulent.  So I made the PC's mom Patient Zero, with the PC's Hunted being the reason for the disease being mutated.

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  • 3 weeks later...

So, today I ran the first half of an adventure involving Deathstroke, the classic bad-luck team.  Since there are 7 players (and thus 7 heroes) in my game, and the 4E version of Deathstroke only had 6 members, I've added a new one:  Draconic, a crop duster pilot and mechanic who found an old facility that once belonged to Dr. Draconis, and included one of his old battlesuits.  So of course Draconic is Hunted by Dr. Draconis.

 

Because many of the members of Deathstroke have Hunteds (including 3 hunted by the Purity League, my version of IHA / Genocide), I rolled all of their Hunteds.  Not surprisingly, the Purity League was one of my successful rolls.

 

For Draconic, I rolled a critical success for his Hunted.  So I decided that Dr. Draconis, having learned of Deathstroke's latest plot, has supplied the Purity League with scanners to help them locate Draconic (by detecting the battlesuit's neural feedback signals).  And when the PCs run across some of those Purity League Pawns, they'll soon have one of those scanners.  Should be interesting.

 

 

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