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Dealing with Killer Characters

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22 hours ago, starblaze said:

This is incredibly stupid, even falling from one story could be deadly.  They could fall wrong and break their neck.

 

Not so much stupid as metagaming - I know the game mechanics mean the average 2PD, 8 BOD NPC will not die from the fall,

 

The same metagame thinking that says my True Blue Super Hero must tolerate the slasher/killer on the team because he has a PC Halo.

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I had bowed out of this thread during the discussion on paladins, but figured I'd respond to something else I had missed.

 

On 12/10/2018 at 9:07 PM, Surrealone said:

Instead of quitting, perhaps it's time to go all Dark Champions on them … and take the story in the direction in which they've expressed interest by way of their characters' actions.  You could certainly have a great deal of fun with this; all it requires is letting go of your own preconceived notions, embracing their characters' actions, and running with the idea that actions have consequences.  Dark Champions is just that … dark.  But it's loads of fun, too … in that 'morality is a mutable, gray mass … not shades of black/white' kind of way.


Frankly, it's sort of disheartening to hear that you got angry/irritated with it to begin with.  Be the GM they want you to be by showing them how dark the world is and how deep the moral rabbit hole they've opened up … goes.  And have fun doing it, because now's your chance to be EVIL; they asked for it!

 

I did pretty much this in a prior Champions campaign, though not so much as reaction to their actions as it was in reaction to a PC's backstory, plus the fairly logical progression of in-game events.  While the storyline got quite interesting, it was pretty unanimous that things got much darker than anybody liked. 

 

There was an encouraging note - the killer PC was grumbling last session about not using his HKA "because everybody's worried I might kill someone."  So perhaps the talk has borne a bit more fruit than I expected.

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9 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Not so much stupid as metagaming - I know the game mechanics mean the average 2PD, 8 BOD NPC will not die from the fall,

Acting upon an observable consequence of the laws of reality isn't metagaming, it's basic pattern recognition.  Unless bystanders have some physlim or optional rule making them more fragile than PCs, people in a world run under HERO system don't die from that sort of fall, and that's everyday life for a HERO-dweller. 

A HERO world is one where punching somebody unconscious is in fact perfectly safe, where a paramedic can save a gunshot victim in six seconds flat, and where falling from a office building roof means you can walk to the hospital afterwards.  A HERO world is a world where people don't die easily. 

When the rules dictate things about the game world, acknowledging those things isn't metagaming.  Refusing to acknowledge them because they're derived from the rules, however, is metagaming. 

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I think my reading has always been that the rules are reasonably explicit about the fragility of normals.  The rules are there to describe the PCs and their antagonists, others don't benefit from this stuff.  I remember that uneven ground etc converts normal to killing damage, and that large amounts of body delivered in one go can be considered fatal.  It is not, however, Twilight 2000 where we might have to consider all the variety of complications that might occur with such a fall.

 

I would also dispute that referencing survivability odds from the rules is indeed metagaming.  It is not observing a pattern, it is making decisions based on odds, making decisions based on numbers rather than morality and treating people (as that is what they are in the game) as counters in a game rather than independent sentient entities.  

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Try this with the afore mentioned brick, next time he uses his 6D6 HKA have the target have a power reflect the damage with a damage booster advantage as well as surprise effect doing more damage to the brick. See if he likes it.

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11 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

I would also dispute that referencing survivability odds from the rules is indeed metagaming.  It is not observing a pattern, it is making decisions based on odds, making decisions based on numbers rather than morality and treating people (as that is what they are in the game) as counters in a game rather than independent sentient entities.  

I'm not saying it's good and proper heroics, because it's not remotely heroic.  I'm saying it's not metagaming. 

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I think it is because you are working on certainties that would not exist in any real-life situation (even a real-life comic book one).

 

In my opinion, the players are making decisions that their characters could never make with the same level of certainty.  

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4 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

I think it is because you are working on certainties that would not exist in any real-life situation (even a real-life comic book one).

 

In my opinion, the players are making decisions that their characters could never make with the same level of certainty.  

A: My entire point is that HERO is not real-life. 

 

B: But the same risk assessment is fine when Sergeant Spandex is deciding if he should start punching The Caped Crook until he passes out? 

 

Playing a hero, or HERO, game requires acceptance that the world works under different rules. 

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I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree.  To me the metagaming is blatant, to you it is the acceptance of a completely different perspective on world.  I understand your point, I just do not agree with it.  🙂  Vive la difference!

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11 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

 

The same metagame thinking that says my True Blue Super Hero must tolerate the slasher/killer on the team because he has a PC Halo.

 

This is the Special Snowflake effect.  And I hate it.  Gaming is a GROUP activity and the PC should be made as a group so nobody treads on another's toes. 's

 

It reminds me of the story about a GM trying to get the party together and two PCs put out a call for employment and interviews.  So all the PCs gather together and they role play the interviews, and one PC says he's not really interested but thanks for the interest.  So the rest of the PCs gather together and leave town.  

 

The PC left behind sputters and complains and the other members say "You refused to come along.  You don't have a glowing neon sign above your head that says PC!"  Now all of a sudden he wants in on the action.  

 

I view Killer PCs in the same light.  If we are playing a four colour game, then GET WITH THE PROGRAM!  Some might say it will make for nail biting story telling, but in my experience it is players argueing and leaving the game.  

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I guess I'm gonna have to be the a-hole here (it's okay, I'm used to it :)).

 

I don't really see that the players have done anything wrong.  I immediately thought of the Batman scene that I think is posted above (link isn't working for me).  He throws the guy off the roof because Bat-Bale figured up how many dice the guy could take without going negative Body.  Great scene in a great movie.  I don't think you can really get mad at players when they're basically following the same sort of rules as one of the most popular superhero movies of all time.

 

Now, that's not to say that this kind of behavior is appropriate for every game, or that you have to smile and pretend you're having fun when they do something like this.  But I don't see any problem with it in a generic Champions game.

 

A few more general comments about things I've seen in this thread.  I don't understand where this idea of prosecuting heroes and sending them to Stronghold comes from, but a lot of you seem to love it.  In every situation (except one -- the guy who killed the "I hate America" guy and the photographer), it appears undeserved.  You're basically talking about a person who kills a terrorist while they are committing a terrorist act, and then the DA wants to send the hero to jail.  Ridiculous.  I think I'd walk away from a gaming group after something like that.  I guess I forgot the part at the beginning of Die Hard 2 where John McClane breaks out of prison for killing the bad guys in the first movie.  Your villains seized a base with a nuclear reactor???  They're lucky only one of them died.  Why would the public turn against the guy who killed a creepy mind controller who was holding a research station (and its nuke) hostage?

 

Superheroes follow a strict moral code, not because the law requires them to, but because they go above and beyond what the law requires.  When Superguy finally gives in and he kills MurderClown (who has a body count of 1000+), everybody cheers for him.  The cops don't try to send him to prison.  But Superguy is such a good person that he feels guilty about it and has to go through a character redemption arc to deal with it.  But if your players don't want to play those kinds of characters, I wouldn't try to make them.  Again, maybe you guys are just wanting different things from the game.  At that point I'd say just end the campaign.  But there's an awfully strong dose of Killer GM in this thread.

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51 minutes ago, massey said:

When Superguy finally gives in and he kills MurderClown (who has a body count of 1000+), everybody cheers for him.  The cops don't try to send him to prison

 

I do not entirely disagree, however, I think this might belong in Die Hard or Lethal Weapon but not in Superman.  The killing of a suspect warrants investigation, even if you were a mandated officer of the law with the right to use lethal force.  A vigilante cannot be allowed to function as judge, jury and executioner, even if MurderClown does have a fantastically high body count.  Obviously if he was killed while in the process of killing others, that is a defence in court, as would having no viable alternative.  If neither of those things were true the law would mandate the prosecution of a killer.

 

heroes are heroic because they effectively operate outside the law and NEEDto demonstrate that they are not even a minor threat to life.  Especially in the context of secret IDs, heroes need to stay safely on the side of no prosecution.

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2 hours ago, massey said:

 

  I immediately thought of the Batman scene that I think is posted above (link isn't working for me). 

 

 

It is spliced together with Maguire's Peter Parker fall onto the cars in the alley.

The game is cinematic. It's is supposed to be. That means the players and their opponents are hard to kill. NPCs on the other hand, live and die by the GM's will.

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It appears that some of the responses are due to a dual-level campaign going on. By that, I mean that two levels of morality: you've got murderers mentioned and you've got CvK hereos. The moment a GM starts allowing murderers loose in the games, the campaign-tone & morality has been set, which seems to be bronze for this game. Yet, the heroes are acting more in a golden/silver age way. Hence, the dual-level. The players/characters aren't sure which way to act. At least, this is my understanding.

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10 hours ago, Greywind said:

 

It is spliced together with Maguire's Peter Parker fall onto the cars in the alley.

The game is cinematic. It's is supposed to be. That means the players and their opponents are hard to kill. NPCs on the other hand, live and die by the GM's will.

 

Clearly there's some confusion about campaign tone though.  The players appear to be of the belief that the fall will be painful, not fatal.  Whether its an accurate assessment of the situation or not, the players have a somewhat reasonable basis for thinking that.  They aren't casually disregarding human life, they simply believe that the villain is threatening serious injury (that the heroes can almost instantly repair) rather than death.  

 

As a general note, when you put players in one of those "hero's choice" moral quandaries (that GMs seem to love for some reason), you're running the risk that they make a decision you don't like.  Players aren't psychic, and they don't know what the GM wants.  So they're torn between what they think the most effective option is, what they think their character would do, and what they think the GM is looking for.  The bad guy has a hostage, what do we do?  Unless everybody is on the exact same page, those sorts of encounters can end really badly.  I have had GMs who think you're supposed to shoot the bad guy in a hostage situation.  They'd get mad if you backed off and tried another approach.  "You're just going to walk away and leave the vampire holding the hostage off the roof?  What kind of hero are you?"

 

I once played in a game that had a really cool premise -- at 11:30 pm (or whenever) on one particular night, whatever people were watching on TV suddenly popped out of the screen.  The players took on the roles of heroic characters, and we had to make our way through the chaos that ensued (things are great if somebody is watching Superman, not so great if they're watching Godzilla).  I was playing the Hugh Jackman Wolverine (I think X-Men 2 had just come out).  So I turn the corner and see one of the Harry Potter kids (still young kids then) get cut up by Leatherface or Jason Voorhees or the Terminator or somebody like that.  I run over and slash the guy with my claws and put him down for the count.  So far, so good.  Actions are in character and are appropriate to the tone of the game.  Then we run into the problem, a pretty big problem actually.

 

Me:  So how is the kid?

GM: Oh he's been sliced up really bad by the bad guy.  He's lying in a huge pool of blood, his breathing is very shallow and rapid.  He's almost dead.

Me:  (thinking to myself)  Okay, this kid is screwed.  He'll be dead in seconds.  I have no healing powers.  Obviously the GM wants me to play father figure to the two remaining kids.

Me:  (to kids)  Alright kids, you're gonna have to toughen up now.  I'm sorry about your friend.  Come on, I'll try and find a safe place to take the two of you.

Me:  (to GM) I take the two remaining kids and we're going to get out of town.  I close the other kid's eyes before we go, maybe cover him up with a towel or something.

GM:  What?

Me:  Yeah, I take the other two kids and leave.

GM: (as kids)  But what about Ron?

Me:  (thinking kid is already dead) There's nothing we can do for him now.  You've gotta just make your peace with it.  Let's go before more of those monsters come back.

GM:  (as kids) But what about Ron?

Me: I can't do anything for him.  Let's go.

GM: (as kids) But what about Ron?

Me: (to GM) Okay, I guess I'm gonna just have to grab these two kids and carry them off.  Or maybe I'll just leave them here to mourn their friend.  Do you want me to take these kids with me or not?

GM:  You're not gonna do anything about the kid who is hurt?

Me:  Oh is he still alive?  I thought he was already dead.

GM:  No he's not dead.  He's really badly hurt though.  And he's in extreme pain.  It looks really really bad.

Me:  ...What?

GM:  Yeah, it looks really grim.  If you just leave him here, he'll die slowly and painfully.

Me:  Are you saying what I think you're saying?

GM: (nods)

Me:  Okay.  Kids, turn away, you're not gonna want to see this.  Alright little buddy, just close your eyes.  When you open them you'll be with Santa Claus.  Snikt.

GM: (turning pale) Gasp!

Me:  What, wasn't I supposed to put the kid out of his misery?  He was dead anyway, right?

GM:  What???  No, you're supposed to take the kid to the hospital!!!

 

The GM thought I wasn't playing Wolverine right.  The problem came in poor communication about what the situation was.  The GM thought there was one clear path forward that my character should take.  I thought there was a different clear path forward my character should take.  Just because you think there's a right answer to the situation, that doesn't mean everybody is on the same page.

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Sure, I created a life-or-death situation (reactor designed to go boom) for the heroes to deal with, as well as some killer supervillains (in the case of the Aquans, Riptide and Biohazard).  So I'll accept some of the blame for setting a potentially lethal tone in that situation.  However, I don't think that necessarily makes me a Killer GM.

 

I believe I mentioned before that the PCs went into retaking the research station already knowing about the reactor - and that Montgomery was almost certainly behind it's design to go boom - so the heroes had shut the reactor down before even starting on the supervillains.   So the potential nuke was already dealt with and to be honest, that's pretty much what I expected was going to happen when I created the situation.  Had any player tried to use the no-longer-dangerous nuke's existence as a reason for going lethal on the supervillains, when they weren't even aware of it, let alone behind it, would have been being willfully ignorant on his/her part. I'll note that the players didn't do that, so that's cool.

 

As to the killer NPCs -- if the hero had unleashed his HKA on one of the killer supervillains, I don't think I would have been irritated.  I kinda expect the players to go harder on the nastier villains.  But to act like, "Killer villain A slashed up my teammate pretty bad, so I'm going to ignore killer villain A and go hard-core lethal on one of his teammates instead" seems counter-intuitive.  Removing villain B from the ranks of the living doesn't do much of anything to stop Killer Villain A from continuing his rampage.

 

I don't mind the game world having shades of gray, including the PCs.  It's when the gray becomes really-really-dark-gray that I worry. 

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43 minutes ago, massey said:

As a general note, when you put players in one of those "hero's choice" moral quandaries (that GMs seem to love for some reason), you're running the risk that they make a decision you don't like.  Players aren't psychic, and they don't know what the GM wants.  So they're torn between what they think the most effective option is, what they think their character would do, and what they think the GM is looking for.  The bad guy has a hostage, what do we do?  Unless everybody is on the exact same page, those sorts of encounters can end really badly.  I have had GMs who think you're supposed to shoot the bad guy in a hostage situation.  They'd get mad if you backed off and tried another approach.  "You're just going to walk away and leave the vampire holding the hostage off the roof?  What kind of hero are you?"

 

Actually, given that one of the heroes was hiding invisible on the rooftop and watched the hostages walk onto the rooftop well before the hero team decided to finally make their move, I didn't really expect any of the hostages to still be there more than a Phase after the rest of the hero team teleported onto the roof.  Heck, the hero in hiding has extra limbs, stretching, and enough OCV + levels that his go-to move is to grab 2-4 supervillains at a time and squeeze.  Grabbing four 0-DCV hostages and moving them out of harm's way while the rest of his team teleports in would have been easy-peasy, especially before the vampires even laid hands on the hostages.  That the hostages were all still there when the bottom-of-the-speed-chart junior vampires moved in Segment 3 was a bit of a surprise to me.

 

But whenever I set up such moral quandaries (and yes, we GMs do like them), it's always with multiple ideas in mind for how various of the heroes might safely deal with the situation.  In the case of the vampires:

  • PC with stretching and extra limbs could have grabbed all four of them away from the vampires
  • PC with teleport UAA teleports them to safety (this is what happened)
  • PC with TK grabs one or two hostages and lowers them safely to the ground.
  • PC with mental paralysis keeps one or two vampires from dropping the hostages
  • PC with AoE entangle makes it so none of the hostages can fall
  • Invisible PC does a multiple fly-by Grab on the hostages, since the vampires were completely unaware of her.

And that's just off the top of my head.  IME, players often come up with something even better than I can think of.  I suppose "Calling their bluff" is an option.  I just would have at least expected a "hey, you got this, right?" from one hero to another over the team Mind Link beforehand. 

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I might be wrong Bolo but I am not sure Massey’s perception of killer GM was particularly aimed at you.  It may be more geared toward some of the more punishing scenarios being suggested along the lines of paper tiger villains to catch the players out.

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On 1/14/2019 at 5:04 PM, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

Acting upon an observable consequence of the laws of reality isn't metagaming, it's basic pattern recognition.  Unless bystanders have some physlim or optional rule making them more fragile than PCs, people in a world run under HERO system don't die from that sort of fall, and that's everyday life for a HERO-dweller. 

A HERO world is one where punching somebody unconscious is in fact perfectly safe, where a paramedic can save a gunshot victim in six seconds flat, and where falling from a office building roof means you can walk to the hospital afterwards.  A HERO world is a world where people don't die easily. 

When the rules dictate things about the game world, acknowledging those things isn't metagaming.  Refusing to acknowledge them because they're derived from the rules, however, is metagaming. 

 

On 1/14/2019 at 6:13 PM, Doc Democracy said:

I think my reading has always been that the rules are reasonably explicit about the fragility of normals.  The rules are there to describe the PCs and their antagonists, others don't benefit from this stuff.  I remember that uneven ground etc converts normal to killing damage, and that large amounts of body delivered in one go can be considered fatal.  It is not, however, Twilight 2000 where we might have to consider all the variety of complications that might occur with such a fall.

 

I would also dispute that referencing survivability odds from the rules is indeed metagaming.  It is not observing a pattern, it is making decisions based on odds, making decisions based on numbers rather than morality and treating people (as that is what they are in the game) as counters in a game rather than independent sentient entities.  

 

The disconnect I see here is whether

 

(a)  the PCs have actually, and regularly, seen normal people routinely fall from rooftops, get  up, brush themselves off and walk to the doctor for a check-up and a band-aid?; or

 

(b)   the PCs are assuming that the game mechanics applicable to the cinematic heros and villains are equally applicable to the non-cinematic normals in the game?

 

In the latter case, they are metagaming, and the campaign assumptions may need clarification.  "No, for a PC or significant NPC, we roll normal damage.  For a noncombatant NPC, a 3 story fall is likely to be lethal.  Your character is well aware of this.  Knowing that, do you want to take a different action?"

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Have you considered playing up on the consequences of having a hero with a healing power?  How about a plot where a villain (or even a hero) kidnaps the mage because they have a DNPC who is dying and needs regular healing.  What about a reporter challenging the hero that their time would be better spent at a hospital than chasing crazies in capes?

 

You might also want to put some doubt into that healing being 100% reliable.  How about a villain with a vulnerability to magic, so that trying to heal them causes more damage than the healing fixes?  Or introduce a character with an ability like the Gamer - no visible wounds even as they take damage, but when they do drop it is easy to kill them.  Another option is to put in some henchmen that really aren't all that tough.  Or mind control an innocent and stuff them in a costume.  I wouldn't suggest using all of them, but put them in situations where going all out has bad consequences.  

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On ‎1‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 9:08 PM, Mr. R said:

 

This is the Special Snowflake effect.  And I hate it.  Gaming is a GROUP activity and the PC should be made as a group so nobody treads on another's toes. 's

 

It reminds me of the story about a GM trying to get the party together and two PCs put out a call for employment and interviews.  So all the PCs gather together and they role play the interviews, and one PC says he's not really interested but thanks for the interest.  So the rest of the PCs gather together and leave town.  

 

The PC left behind sputters and complains and the other members say "You refused to come along.  You don't have a glowing neon sign above your head that says PC!"  Now all of a sudden he wants in on the action.  

 

I view Killer PCs in the same light.  If we are playing a four colour game, then GET WITH THE PROGRAM!  Some might say it will make for nail biting story telling, but in my experience it is players argueing and leaving the game.  

snowflake?

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DANGER:  Long, boring war story ahead...

 

Many years ago, in a larger gaming group, we had a group of characters having trouble getting along.  As the GM, watching the party about to split, or more likely fragment, I put a die on the table.  I told the group to decide which characters would be sticking with each other, staying in contact, etc.  Once that was decided, we would roll the die, counting from my immediate left.  Whoever's number came up, that was the character the campaign would follow.  Any character still associated with him stayed in the campaign.  Anyone else needed a new, compatible character.  Maybe we can return to the others in later campaigns.

 

I never did have to roll that die...

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